‘La Brega,’ a Podcast Series About Puerto Rico’s Resilience

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Photo courtesy of NBC News.

Puerto Rico’s history goes beyond its Commonwealth status.

Despite the media narrative, the island has a deep history of resilience, having survived natural disasters, corruption, and scandals.

Puerto Rico is a people of fighters, of “bregadores,” an expression that, although it has no direct English translation, means something like “one who always overcomes obstacles.”

Now, a seven-episode bilingual podcast series called ‘La Brega’ wants to tell this story precisely.

Created by a group of specialists and focused on discussing Puerto Rico’s history and identity, ‘La Brega’ seeks to shed light on a different trait of Boricuas.

Through investigative journalism, the show’s producers narrate and walk through different aspects of life in Puerto Rico. Those involved with the show include musicians, artists, journalists, and producers who are in diaspora.

Hosted by On the Media’s Alana Casanova-Burgess, and co-produced by WNYC Studies, which is part of New York’s public radio station WNYC, the initiative is part of Futuro Studios founded by Latinx journalist Maria Hinojosa. 

One of the hosts is Nuyorican journalist Alana Casanova-Burgess, who told NBC News, “Why do we have a society and a government that asks us to be in ‘la brega’ so often? It has so many different facets because the term is hopeful in a way, but it’s also sad and tiring because, at the end of the day, we deserve more.”

The introductory segment of the podcast goes deep into the island’s history, beginning with United States-esque suburban towns to U.S. surveillance known as ‘las carpetas.’ These were files made up by Puerto Rican police and the FBI that disclosed their surveillance on Puerto Rico’s citizens who wanted the country to be independent for almost 40 years. 

Puerto Rican journalist Chris Gregory-Rivera told NBC News that in addition to these people, it was also “feminist organizations, unions, basically anybody that was advocating for social change in Puerto Rico.”

Gregory-Rivera has studied ‘las carpetas’ in detail, reporting on them for about six years. Now, his investigative work is being displayed at an exhibition in Abrons Arts Center in NYC.

Today, the island is still reeling from the damage the government has done. Gregory-Rivera said, “There was not a fair chance for Puerto Ricans to explore independence as an option, because both the government of Puerto Rico and the United States government did not allow that option to be on the table. And now, we have to ‘bregar’ with that fact.”

Beyond that, the series speaks about the Olympics episode, and more recently, the damages caused by natural disasters. The last episode of the series is with a political anthropologist that studies the territorial states of Puerto Rico today and when it began in 1952. 

The entire series will be released in English and Spanish on February 24 through all podcast streaming stations.