photo essay: evo morales speech canceled in ever changing harlem

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dear readers,

eager attendees learned that evo morales canceled his harlem speech today just minutes before he was due to take the podium. the disappointing message was relayed in spanish by a spokeswoman who took the podium at salem universal mothodist church in harlem, and asked for, “please, just 5 minutes of silence,” before breaking the news that morales would not be speaking due to health issues.

4.22.09 (photo: roopa singh)

4.22.09 (photo: roopa singh)

morales cancels harlem speech, 4.22.09 (photo: roopa singh)

morales cancels harlem speech, 4.22.09 (photo: roopa singh)

there was a line down the block, stretching back from adam clayton powell boulevard (7th avenue) all the way through a massive projects courtyard off 6th avenue. the colorfully layered bolivian flag shone from the palms of all in line. the flag was emblazoned across tickets for entry and press passes. the press credential table was strewn with passes for the gamut of la prensa, including the new york times, el diario, manhattan neighborhood network, and pbs. the spokeswomen said he was sick. others said it may have been security reasons. still others postulated that morales may have been silenced.

morales harlem speech canceled (4.22.09, photo:roopa singh)

morales harlem speech canceled (4.22.09, photo:roopa singh)

press table, morales harlem speech canceled (4.22.09, photo:roopa singh)

press table, morales harlem speech canceled (4.22.09, photo:roopa singh

all set up with nothing to shoot, evo morales canceled harlem speech (photo:roopa singh)

all set up with nothing to shoot, evo morales canceled harlem speech (photo:roopa singh)

morales harlem speech canceled (4.22.09, photo:roopa singh)

morales harlem speech canceled (4.22.09, photo:roopa singh)

regardless, the crowd was palpably disappointed, barely buyoed by the musicians who took the stage with traditional bolivian windpipes and drums. the long line outside split apart into circles of people, still waiting, as though perhaps there had been a mistake.

inside the church, musicians to bolster the crowds disappointment (photo: roopa singh)

inside the church, musicians to bolster the crowds disappointment (photo: roopa singh)

morales, bolivia’s first indigenous head of state, recently began erecting universities designed to educate indigenous people. thus far around 40 have been built, and around 80 more are in the works. that morales is invested in long term change is unquestionable.  so why is his stance on the obama administration gritty, at best?

the miami herald ran an article on morales april 18, 2009, in which he was quoted as saying: ”Those staff members [the DEA stationed in Bolivia] continue to operate as if they were serving the Bush administration,” he said. “It’s up to the U.S. government to improve our relations. If diplomatic relations have to do with investments … and not meddling and conspiracies, they are welcomed.”

 Bolivia's President Evo Morales gestures during a press conference Saturday at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (ariana cubillos/ap photo)

Morales said he came to the summit “seeking a dialogue of cooperation, not relations built on conspiracies.” ”One hundred days have gone by and we in Boliva have yet to feel any changes,” Morales said, referring to Obama’s length in office. “The policy of conspiracy continues.” Regardless of why the Morales Harlem speech was canceled, the disappointment was felt by all present.

Hopefully Morales will be able to speak to the American people sooner than later.  Harlem, a foundational African American enclave undergoing massive race and class based change, would be a powerful location for Morales to address the American people.  Known as “Harlem World,” or simply “Uptown,” by hip hop heads around the world, this historic neighborhood can currently related to “right to remain,” and “right of return” struggles around the world.  These shots reflect the Harlem which surrounds Salem Church, location of the canceled Morales speech.  Enjoy.

harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

support community struggles mural: harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

condos: harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

sotheby's and nypd: harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

sotheby's and nypd: harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

free puerto rican political prisoners: harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

free puerto rican political prisoners: harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

health food and fried chicken: harlem world right now (4.22.09, photo: roopa singh)

Stay tuned for more,
Roopa Singh
http://www.twitter.com/politicalpoet

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One thought on “photo essay: evo morales speech canceled in ever changing harlem

  1. Love seeing the world through your eyes. I haven’t been to Harlem in a few months but I am bracing myself for the outcome of the rezoning of 125th. What will happen if Harlem is no longer Harlem?

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