(Happy Land Fire) MARCH 25th, The FIFTEENTH Day of GARIFUNA American Heritage Month in New York (Happy Land Social Club Fire Tragedy)

 

Front Page of The New York Times, MONDAY, March 26th 1990.

Front Page of The New York Times, MONDAY, March 26th 1990.

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Bronx, New York — MARCH 25th is the FIFTEENTH Day of GARIFUNA American Heritage Month in New York. Today’s posting is about the infamous Happy Land Social Club Fire, a Tragedy for many Garifuna People and residents of New York City.

New York Daily News Coverage of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

New York Daily News Coverage of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

The Happy Land Social Club Fire Tragedy refers to a tragic fire which took place at The Happy Land Social Club, an unlicensed social club in the Bronx located at 1959 Southern Boulevard.  It took place after an argument between JULIO GONZALEZ, a Cuban refugee and LYDIA FELICIANO, his ex-girlfriend.

They had broken up and apparently he had gone to the club, where she worked as a coat check girl, and allegedly tried to discuss getting back together.  She was not interested in taking him back and an argument ensued.

After being kicked out the club by bouncers, he found a container in the street, filled it with $1 worth of gasoline bought from a nearby Amoco gas station on E. 174th and Southern Boulevard (about three blocks away from The Happy Land Social Club), returned and set fire to the only known exit in the venue.

Amoco Gas Station on E. 174th Street and Southern Boulevard where Julio Gonzalez bought $1 worth of gasoline.

Amoco Gas Station on E. 174th Street and Southern Boulevard where Julio Gonzalez bought $1 worth of gasoline.

Most of the victims died from smoke asphixiation.  The fire was set on SUNDAY March 25th 1990 at approximately 3:38am.

Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx.

Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx.

New York Daily News coverage of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

New York Daily News coverage of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

The Happy Land Social Club Fire Tragedy served to introduce the Garifuna Ethnic group to the New York City (and world population).  I do not have access to LexusNexus service, but I believe that it was not until this tragedy where the mainstream press in New York City began to use the term Garifuna to describe the Garifuna ethnic group. The term Garifuna could be found in the world of Academia and was used in Anthropological papers and such.  This is why I am writing about this and including this as part of Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York.  This Tragedy is part of New York City (and American) lore.

New York Newsday Coverage Of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

New York Newsday Coverage Of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

A comprehensive report on The Happy Land Social Club Fire can be found on the crime website, TruTV.com.   1  Here is a link to an ABC news story on the 20th Commemoration of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.  2

New York Post coverage of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

New York Post coverage of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

According to Wikipedia, Julio Gonzalez, a Cuban refugee, was charged with 174 counts of murder—- two for each victim—- and was found guilty on 87 counts of arson and 87 counts of murder on August 19, 1991. For each count he received the sentence maximum of 25 years to life (a total of 4,350 years).  It was the most substantial prison term ever imposed in the state of New York.  3

Julio Gonzalez, who set fire to the only known exit of The Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx.

Julio Gonzalez, who set fire to the only known exit of The Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx.

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He will be eligible for parole on during March 2015 as New York law states that multiple murders occurring during one act will be served concurrently, rather than consecutively.  4  Julio Gonzalez is currently serving his sentence at Clinton Prison in Dannemora, New York.

UPDATE: In February 2015, Julio Gonzalez was denied parole.  His next scheduled parole hearing is scheduled for November 2016.

UPDATE:  Julio Gonzalez, Arsonist responsible for The 1990 Happy Land Social Club Fire, died in Prison in September 2016.

Born on October 10th 1954, Julio Gonzalez’s  Department Identification Number (DIN) is 91A7544 and according to Julio Gonzalez’s profile on the New York State Department Of Prisons website, he is scheduled for parole on March 20th 2015.  UPDATE: In February 2015, Julio Gonzalez was denied parole.  His next scheduled parole hearing is scheduled for November 2016.  5

In April, 1990.  At a memorial mass less than a Month after The Happy Land Social Club Fire, the president of Honduras at the time, Rafael Leonardo Callejas as well as the archdiocese of New York; promised to build a recreational center in the Bronx neighborhood where the Happy Land Social Club Fire took place.  Honduran President Rafael Leonardo Callejas said that Honduras was donating $25,000; which included $1,000 of his own money.  Cardinal O’Connor said the Catholic Church would match the contribution if the city donated the land to be used for a community center.  He promised $999.99 on his own.  6

In 1990, The Federation of Honduran Organizations of New York–an umbrella organization of various Honduran groups in New York–was created in response to the Happy Land Social Club Fire.  What happened to that organization?  They were cited in their role in gathering supplies and resources in response to the devastation that 1998’s Hurricane Mitch brought to Honduras.  But I do not know of their current status.  7

In 1992, Alexander DiLorenzo plead Guilty to not having a sprinkler system in the building that housed the Happy Land Social Club.  Mr. Alexander DiLorenzo III agreed to pay $150,000 towards a community center for Hondurans in the Bronx as well as 50 hours of community service.  I am not aware of any community center built as a result of this tragedy.  8

In 1995, the victim’s families split a $15.8 settlement (out of a proposed $5 Billion)  with various insurance companies and Alexander DiLorenzo III, the Owner of the building that housed the Happy Land Social Club. 9  That averages out to $170,000 per victim or killed victim’s family. And that’s BEFORE attorney fees are considered.  10

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In the wake of The Happy Land Social Club, a New York City task force with 200 inspectors was formed to inspect and close dangerous locations.  Now that task force is known as MARCH (Multi Agency Response To Community Hotspots).

Below is a list of the names of the 87 victims of The Happy Land Social Club Fire, which took place on Sunday, March 25th, 1990. 59 of the victims were from the country of Honduras.  According to a report in the New York Newsday Newspaper, 41 or 42 (70%) of the 59 Honduran victims were Garifuna.  11

A report in the New York Times Newspaper indicates that 20 of the victims came from other Latin American countries and 9 of the victims were U.S. Citizens, mostly from Puerto Rico.  12

I hope to identify and confirm all the victims of Garifuna descent as soon as I can so that I could CONFIRM the numbers above.  Feel free to write to me and let me know which victims in this list were Garifuna.  May they all rest in peace.  Notes below are my thoughts along with brief biographical information from various Newspapers (mostly the tabloid New York City newspapers, The New York Daily News, New York Newsday, The New York Post and The New York Times–not a tabloid, but a major newspaper).  Exact sources / references are listed in the footnotes.  In addition to New York City tabloid newspapers, I also included Associated Press stories as well.  Information may be incomplete and spellings of the names are not confirmed.

NOTE: Most of the victims were from Honduras, but that doesn’t automatically mean that they were Garifuna.  Considering the circumstances regarding this tragedy–namely the fact that many of the victims were illegal immigrants, pinning down who and what the victims were is a considerable challenge.  Add to that fact that Honduras is ethnically and racially diverse, and you have a task (confirming just who is Garifuna) filled with headaches.  Not being able to SEE who many of the victims were also posed a challenge–and those you did see, you saw in Black and White newspaper photos, which in some cases, isn’t conclusive.

QUICK HONDURAS RACIAL / ETHNIC HISTORY LESSON

In the early history of Honduras, you have ethnic groups that arose from in essence, three racial groups or categories.  (Following information is taken from the Sarah England book, “Afro Central Americans in New York City: Garifuna Tales of Transnational Movements in Racialized Space” Copyright 2006, Publisher University Press of Florida)

  • Indigenous peoples (Tolupanes, Tawakas, Pech, Miskitu, Chorti, Lencas)
  • Poor whites (Spanish peninsulares–Spainard living in New World–or their American children, known as criollos)
  • Freed Blacks (descendants of African slaves brought as early as 1540 to replace the indigenous peoples in the mines of the interior of Honduras).

These groups formed a bunch of different racial groups out of all the possible mixtures of these ‘pure’ races.

  • Mulatos (Black mixed with White)
  • Zambos (Black Mixed with Indigenous)
  • Mestizos (Indigenous mixed with White)
  • Ladinos (term used to refer to anyone of any race mixture that had acculturated to Spanish culture and language)
  • Indio (Although in English, it translates into ‘Indian’, the term can also be used to not only to refer to members of an indigenous group like ‘miskito’ but also to the majority population of Honduras, ‘mestizos’, often with connotations of lower class or peasant status.  The term can also be used as an insult implying ignorance, low status, and/or propensity to violence.  13

Another group to mention are castas (“castes” in English).  Mixed population of above mentioned racial/ethnic groups that were excluded from wealth and power in Honduras.  Despite that, they served as a ready supply of cheap and mobile labor.

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By the time the Garifuna people arrived in Honduras in 1797; the castas represented 60 percent of the population–mainly in the southern and central regions of Honduras.

In the 1840s, English-speaking Blacks and Whites from the Cayman Islands arrived.  They mostled settled on the Bay Islands off the Honduran coast.  At that time, the British controlled the Bay Islands, like Roatan (which explains how the Garifuna people were sent there after being exiled from St. Vincent Island) and didn’t give Honduras sovereignity until 1860.  These Blacks are also referred to as Negro Ingles/Creoles.

In early 1900s, West indian labor was brought in to Honduras to work at the multinational fruit companies, which were based in Honduras.  After the Depression of the 1930s brought down production of bananas and such, many West Indians went back to countries like Jamaica.  However, a few settled in port towns like Tela, Puerto Cortes, and La Ceiba.

Finally, you also have Palestinian and Lebanese Arabs  who began to arrive in the early 1900s attracted by business opportunities they could exploit in the banana enclave.  They’ve since become the wealthiest capitalists in Honduras, where they dominate the agricultural and industrial sectors in the North Coast.  Usually they aren’t included in lists of ethnic groups in Honduras and are considered racially and culturally distinct from the ladino population.   14

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I mention all this to note that when thinking about the ethnic identity of some of the Honduran Happy Land Fire Victims, there’s a LOT of factors to consider.  In fact, as far as I can tell, some of the victims of Garifuna descent are perhaps, ‘mixed’.

You ask, “Why does this matter?  Aren’t they all human?”  Of course they are.  However in New York City, the majority of the Honduran population are in fact of Garifuna descent and in New York City circles, Honduran is synonymous with Garifuna and when thinking of the Happy Land Social Club Fire, it’s tempting to just say that all the victims are Garifuna.  Upon closer examination, that isn’t necessarily so in this instance.

In short, the victims of The Happy Land Social Club Fire were NOT all of Garifuna descent and it’s inconsiderate to the ethnicities and nationalities of the various victims to suggest otherwise.  Don’t forget, the Garifuna make up a very small minority within the Honduran population.

In reading the New York City news stories about the Happy Land Social Club Fire, I’m struck by how many of the victims were teenagers and young adults.  Despite their humble backgrounds, many had high ambitions.  Looking at the chart below can give you a glimpse into their biographical information.

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1) Lourdes Rosario Aguilar Rodriguez  — 24 years old.  A housekeeper from New Jersey.  15From Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  From Talanga, Honduras.  16[/ref] 30) Omar Escobar – 20 years old, from Tela, Honduras.  Part-time delivery man.  Was in the United States for a year and a half.  17 60) Daphne Beaumont McKenzie — 29 years old From Honduras.    Cousin is Beverly Amaya from Roxbury, Massachusetts. She had partied at The Happy Land Social Club 2 weeks prior while visiting from Boston with husband Samuel McKenzie. 18  From Puerto Cortes, Honduras.  Beaumont family lives in Calejon Campo Rojo in Puerto Cortes, Honduras.  The Beaumonts are a well known family in Honduras.  Many work in the professional ranks. Dr. Austin Beaumont is a popular physician.  Daphne left Honduras in 1980 to study nursing in California.  A few years later, she moved to Boston, where she met and married Samuel McKenzie.  Daphne worked in a hospital in Boston.  Had two children, who lived in Honduras being cared for by their Grandmother. Daughter is named Jasan Beaumont.  Sister is Beatric Beaumont.  19
2) Caloctro Calixto (Carlos?) Alfaro Paz – 22 years old, from Potrerillos, Honduras 20  Arrived in New York City, three years prior.  21Spent his money at private night school to learn English.  Worked at Delicioso Coco Helado Ice Cream company of Alfredo Phibaud.  22 31) Alba Escoto Romero (Garifuna? Related to Wendy Manaiza) — 18 years old, Student at Roosevelt High School.  From Francia, Colon, Honduras.  Worked part-time as a home attendant on weekends.  Matriarch of Family, Ruby Manaiza from Limon, Honduras.  Arrived in the United States in mid-1985.  Dreamed of becoming a teacher.  Boyfriend was Juan Carlos Colon, 18 years old, who also died in the Happy Land Fire. Mother is Alba Romero Diaz.  23 61) Hilda McKenzie – 32 years old, husband (Carlos E. Contreras / Henry Contreras / Henry Reyes?) also died in Happy Land Fire. Sister of Samuel McKenzie.  From Puerto Cortes, Honduras.  Lived in the Bronx.  24Son named Christopher.  Studied business administration at Hostos Community College.  Sold Tupperware and Avon products.  Often packed extra Avon inventory into care packages sent back to family in Puerto Cortes,  Honduras.  Toothpaste, soap, shampoo bottles and cosmetics were also in these care packages. 25NOTE: There’s confusion on my part as to whether Hilda McKenzie was married to Samuel McKenzie or whether it was Daphne McKenzie who was married to Samuel McKenzie as differing Daily News stories offer conflicting depictions.
3) Jose Amilcar Alfaro Paz – 17 years old, from Potrerillos, Honduras.  26  Arrived in New York City three years prior.  27 32) Casimiro Evo Lopez / Ebo Lopez — 31 years old. Father to two young children.  28 Was Honduran according to comment made by Jackie Martinez on youtube.  29Deisy Canales is friend.  From Honduras. Will Nevas was a friend.  30 62) Samuel R. McKenzie — From  Honduras.   31 From Puerto Cortes, Honduras.  Lived in Boston.  Husband of Daphne Beaumont-McKenzie, who also died with him in the Happy Land Social Club Fire.  Samuel owned a small restaurant in Boston.  32
4) Malvin Alicea 33) Daisy Marie Falco – 16 years old, Daughter of Ann Marie Hunt, who also died in the fire.  Her boyfriend was Israel Bulnes Jr, who also died in the fire.  33 63) Evelio Mejia — Had a childhood friend in Hector Escoto (from Honduras).  From Honduras according to Jose Prado on youtube.
5) Denny Elroy Alvarez – (Correction from Bella Gotay via Facebook) Denny Eloy Alvarez –(Garifuna?) 22 years old.  Worked at a candy factory.  He was from Honduras.  Survivor Felipe Figueroa was a friend.  34From neighborhood of Barrio Cristales in Trujillo, Honduras.  Good friend of Marco Vinicio Martinez, who also died in the Happy Land Fire.  Detail of dialect spoken by women at the wake being described as garisuna as well as reporter noting traditional uruga tale being told during wake suggests he is GARIFUNA. 35(Following Information From Bella Gotay via Facebook–FRIDAY March 27th 2015).  Mr. Denny Eloy Alvarez is from Trujillo, Colon, Honduras.  He is survived by wife Glenda Doralina Gotay and Daughters Denise Alvarez and Jaffrey Gotay. 34) Debra Farrington — 23 years old.  Had Honduran boyfriend, father of her two children.  36 64) Nelson Mejia — From Honduras, according to Jose Prado on youtube.  Jose Prado also says that Nelson worked at a Gas Station on Watson and Metcalf and lived on 1184 Evergreen Avenue.  37
6) Hector Alvarez — 18 years old, from Honduras. High School Senior. 38 35) Loretta Farrington — 20 years old. Honduran boyfriend is father of her one child.  39 65) Rene J. Mena Jr. (GARIFUNA) – 30 years old, From Tela, Honduras. Worked in Maintenance at The Transit Authority.  Also was superintendent for the building he lived in.  Was married, with three children.  Came to United States at the age of one.  40
7) Jose Ambrosio Alvarez — 27 years old.  Friend of DJ Ruben Valladares.  From Honduras.  Godfather to DJ Ruben Valladares oldest daughter.  41  Brother is Gerardo Alvarez 42Survivor Felipe Figueroa was a friend.  43From Barrio Cristales neighborhood in Trujillo, Honduras.  44 36) Jose Ramon Flores —  According to Pedro Rivera, A man named ‘Ramon’ was a Friend of Julio Gonzalez.  Ramon allegedly comforted Julio Gonzalez after he was roughed up and evicted by the Happy Land Social Club bouncer.  Ramon had urged Julio Gonzalez to “go home and sleep it off”. Or is the ‘Ramon’ in reference to Jose Ramon Flores? 45
66) Mircia Edenia Moncada Meza – 19 years old, Factory Worker. Went to Happy Land Social Club to celebrate a friend’s birthday (a teacher from Honduras).  Mother is Diana Moncada.  46
8) Frankie Tomas Arana 37) Lenny Lennin Ernesto Gamoneda – 18 years old. High School Senior. Family from Tela, Honduras.  47 Perhaps from El Progreso as well.  48 67) Dionicio Moreira
9) Dagoberto Echeverri-Barahona (cousin of Orbin Garbutt. Is he Garifuna?) — 18 years old, from Puerto Cortez, Honduras.  Factory worker.  Soccer Player.  Arrived in United States two years prior.  49 38) Marco Tulio Gamoneda – 22 years old, Bronx Community College Student.  Soccer player.  Family from El Progreso Tela, Honduras.  50 Maybe also from El Progreso Honduras. 51 68) Ana Luisa Moss Centino (Garifuna from Guatemala) – 32 years old, boyfriend was one of the victims of the Happy Land Social Club Fire.  Family lived in Chicago.  Mother is Justina Centino Lucas. Cousin is Augustina Centino.  Sister is Norma Estrada Gosh.  From Puerto Barrios, Guatemala.  Ana had two children.  52
10) Sandra Beltran Enanora — From San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  Had two children.  Jorge Reyes Beltran and Pejy Beltran.   53March 25th was her 25th Birthday. 54 39) Orvin Garbutt – 22 years old, from Puerto Cortes, Honduras. He was a soccer player with a passion for baseball. (Garifuna?) He is Black and is from Honduras so maybe…  Father Roosevelt Carbutt was a famous soccer player in Honduras.  55 69) Yvette Murray — 22 years old, sister of Yvonne Murray. Lived in apartment at 1490 Crotona Park East.   56
11) Victor Hugo Benavides – 29 years old, Worked in a shirt factory.  From San Jacinta neighborhood of San Salvador, which is the capital of El Salvador.  57 40) Erlinda or Linda Gomez – 35 years old.  Sister of Sagrario Gomez.From Puerto Cortes, Honduras.  Worked as a housekeeper.  Cousin of Miriam Pineda, 24 years old and Carla Maldonado, 22 years old.  58 70) Yvonne Murray — 23 years old, Had two children.  A 10 month old daughter and a 4 year old daughter.  The Daughters names are Shavonne Walbey and Dovonne Walbey (who has been missing since 1990). 59
12) Israel Antonio Bulnes Jr. — 18 years old.  Family from Honduras. Family emigrated to the United States three years prior.  Went to Evander Childs High School.  60  Boyfriend of Daisy Marie Falco, who also died in the fire.Worked at Alexander’s Department Store. Avid swimmer. Planned to become a lifeguard over the summer.  61 41) Jose Francisco Gonzalez – 31 (Francisco Gonzalez?). Construction worker from Catacamas, Olancho, near Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  62 , 63Was married and had two children who lived in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  64 71) Juan Jose Nunez — 22 years old. Catalina Nunez is sister.  65, From Honduras.  Rafael Nunez is another brother.  Cousins are Mary Sol Martinez 26 years old and Margarita Martinez, 24 years old.  They both also died in the Happy Land Fire.  66
13) Wilfredo Castillo-Perdomo – 22 years old, from Potrerillos Cortez, Honduras.  67[/ref] Worked at supermarket.  Friend of Wilfredo Castillo and Nicholas Zapata Guadro, who also died in the Happy Land Social Club Fire.   68 42) Carmen Hernandez 72) Samuel Ortiz  — 24 years old.  Had just arrived in New York three months prior.  69From Tela, Honduras.  Four year veteran of Honduran army.  70
14) Janet or Yanet / Yaneth Mercedes Castro — from San Pedro Sula, Honduras. 71  Her father is Julio Cesar Castro.  She had a baby, ran away from home, got into the United States illegally and got work as a domestic for a Puerto Rican family.  72 43) Enrique Hinds (Henry Hines? — 32 years old) Friends with Francisco Chavez, who died in the Fire and Roberto Mitchell Suazo, who survived.  73 73) Nilda Ortiz (Torres?)
Commenter Naomi Roman explained on May 21st 2015 that her mom, who is also named Nilda Ortiz, was supposed to celebrate her 42nd Birthday at The Happy Land Social Club that night.  Ultimately, she decided NOT to go.Naomi explained that the Nilda Ortiz who passed away has another last name, Torres. So I am revising this entry to read Nilda Ortiz (Torres) as I am not able to confirm this bit of information.   I do not know if Torres is an additional paternal / maternal last name or a marriage last name.
15) Carla Chavez 44) Ann Marie Hunt – 37 years old. A Teacher.  74 Went with daughter Daisy Falco and several friends from their building to celebrate birthday. 74) Mario Pacheco — 19 years old.  Worked in a Plastics factory.  From Honduras.  Buried in the Bronx.   75[/ref]
16) Francisco Chavez — Friend of Roberto Mitchell Suazo, survivor.  They were roomates in the Bronx.  76 45) Juan Javier 75) Eli J. Pena — 26 years old from Honduras. 77  Lived in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Worked at a Dry Cleaners. 7819 year old Juan Alberto Pena (no relation to Juan Andres Pena–who died in the Happy Land Fire), is Eli J. Pena‘s brother.   79
17) Norman / Omar Romero Clark   (Garifuna? related to Wendy Manaiza) — 18 years old,  from Francia, Colon, Honduras.  Graduate of Roosevelt High School.  Gifted student at City College.  Wanted to be an architect so he could build a home for his mother.  Super-smart and romantic, according to his sisters.    80 46) Charles Joseph 76) Juan Andres Pena – 21, from Dominican Republic?  Francisco Pena and Luis Pena are brothers.  At time of reference, body hadn’t been identified as of yet.  His car was found just a block away from the Happy Land Social Club.  81
18) Elias Colon — from Juanadia, Puerto Rico, Owner of Happy Land Social Club. Moved to United States when he was 22 years old.  Served as a merchant marine for 20 years.  82  48 years old.  83 47) Israel Laureano / Lauriano Sr — 48 years old, from Puerto Rico.  Machinist with Farberware factory in the Bronx. Vietnam Veteran.  84 77) Carlos Roberto Peri – 27, from Honduras. Carpenter.  Came to Bronx four years prior.From Trujillo, Honduras.  85
19) Juan Carlos Colon (GARIFUNA, he is my cousin) 18, Senior at Martin Luther King High School. Born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  Came to New York in 1983.  Dated Alba Escoto.  Was a Promising Filmmaker.  He was at Happy Land researching the Garifuna Punta Dance for a film he was making about the Garifuna people.  The week of the Happy Land Social Club Fire, he was scheduled to travel to Poland to with a film group.  86 48) Isabel Christina Lopez (Garifuna? related to Wendy Manaiza) – 17 years old, She was a junior at Roosevelt High School. Father from Honduras.  87 78) Wilson Efrain Pesantez (from Pucara de Cuenca, Ecuador) — 28 years old, Worked in a movie theater.  Had a wife. Parents were in Ecuador.  88
20) Ramon Colon — 40 years old.  89  According to Pedro Rivera, A man named ‘Ramon’ was a Friend of Julio Gonzalez.  Ramon allegedly comforted Julio Gonzalez after he was roughed up and evicted by the Happy Land Social Club bouncer.  Ramon had urged Julio Gonzalez to “go home and sleep it off”. Or is the ‘Ramon’ in reference to Jose Ramon Flores? 90 49) Mauricio Lopez — 20 years old.  Marta Lopez Benavides is sister.  Marta is Wife of Victor Hugo Benavides, who also died in the Happy Land Social Club Fire.  Funeral (and burial ?) in the Bronx.  91
From El Salvador.  92
79) Miriam Elena Pineda — 24 years old. From Puerto Cortes, Honduras.  Cousin of Carla Maldonado, 24 years old and Erlinda Linda Gomez, 32 or 35  years old, who also died in the Happy Land Social Club Fire.  93
21) Carlos E. Contreras (also known as Henry Contreras  94 ) – 26 or 27  years old, from Santo Domingo.  Wife Hilda McKenzie is from Honduras.  She also died in the fire. 50) Nohemy Aracely Luque de Garcia – 42 years old, Taught Spanish in Honduras.  Was visiting relatives and former students in New York.  Was married and had four children in Puerta Tela. 80) Minerva Ramos Duprey – 51, from Isabella, Puerto Rico.  Bartender and sometime coat check girl at Happy Land Social Club.  Seamstress during the week.When Fire occurred, she ran to second floor dance floor to warn patrons of Fire.  She died trying to save Happy Land patrons.  95
22) Victor Hugo Cordova – 20 years old, from San Pedro Sula, Honduras. 96Arrived five months earlier. 51) Luis Abraham Manaiza (GARIFUNA) – 23 years old, Maintenance Worker for a Gym. From Francia, Colon, Honduras.  Had a wife Bielma Lacayo who was seven months pregnant.   97 Also had a daughter Amanda, who was 1.  Arrived in the United States in 1987. Described as a self-starter. He obtained his high school equivalency diploma, took night classes in English and had a wife, Bielna.  In addition to their daughter Amanda, Bielna Manieza was pregnant at the time of the Happy Land Social Club Fire.  98 81) Clemente (Henry) Reyes Shortstop in San Francisco Giants organization.  Married to Daphne Mckenzie?  99
23) Justa Gladys Crisanto 52) Wendy Manaiza (GARIFUNA) – 18 years, Senior at Roosevelt High School. Born in Francia, Colon, Honduras.  Worked part-time as home attendant on the weekends.  Ruby Manaiza is the Matriarch of this family and is from Limon, Honduras.  Wendy Manaiza spoke of being a lawyer.  She was described as playful and loved to invent expressions for situations and friends.  100 82) Cruz Loreto Robledo Alvarez — 38 years old, bartender at Happy Land Social Club.  Lived in the United States for 20 years and was a U.S. Citizen. Had a wife and four children.  Was a handyman and porter at an apartment complex in the Bronx for 12 years.Daisy Caballero, sister in law.From Barrio Cristales neighborhood in Trujillo, Honduras.  101
24) Lester Rolando Cruz – 20 years old, from Potrerillos, Cortes, Honduras.  102Arrived in New York fourteen months earlier.  Had a wife and son.   103  Worked at a metal shop.  Sent several hundred dollars a month to mother and girlfriend in Honduras. 104Friend is Deisy Canales. Had just gotten a job 2 days earlier on Friday at the Delicioso Coco Helado Ice Cream Company of Alfredo Phibaud.  105 53) Kim Marlone or Marlowe
83) Query Francisco Romero (Garifuna? related to Wendy Manaiza) — 33 years old, from Francia, Colon, Honduras.  Lived in United States since July 1984.  Janitor of a public school on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.  Had a wife Emelina Romero who was six months pregnant.  Had six children.  One daughter was named Betsy Catherine Romero.  Played on soccer team.  Three sons named Francisco, Marlon and Walter.  Wife Emelina was pregnant at time of Happy Land Social Club Fire. 106  Known as the family’s joker.  Arrived in the United States in 1984.  107
25) Natalie Dantzler — 31 years old. A secretary. U.S. Citizen.  108 Had a son. 54) Jose Manuel Marquez Hernandez  — 24 years old from Honduras.  Uncle is Gregoria Hernandez.  Maria Elena Nunez is Aunt.  109Father is Manuel Marquez, 50 years old. A farmer, his only means of transportation was a bicycle.  Driven to airport with family friends.  110From Progreso, Honduras.  Eli J. Pena was a cousin.  111 84) Susan Gayle Samms    Garifuna American. Raised in the Bronx, but parents are from Belize.
26) Jose Alexis Hernandez Diaz – 19 years old, from Potrerillos, Honduras.   112[/ref] Worked at a textile mill.  Friend of Wilfredo Castillo and Nicholas Zapata Guadro, who also died in the Happy Land Social Club Fire.  113  Jeannette Diaz was a cousin.  She stayed in New York for two years and had to return to Honduras because multiple-entry visa ran out. She’d been to the Happy Land Social Club twice. Claimed that because so many Hondurans frequented the club, “it made you feel like you were home”.  114 55) Mario Martinez (GARIFUNA) – 37 years old, Born in Santa Rosa de Aguan, Honduras.  Was a construction worker.  Moved to Bronx five years prior. Also was a cook’s assistant abroad a cruise ship based in Miami.  115 85) Betsabe Betsy Torres — 19 years old. Niece of Lydia Feliciano, who escaped the Happy Land Fire.  116
27) Marco Julio Dolmo 56) Aida Margarita Martinez  — Cousin of Catalina Nunez.  117 86) Paula Rios Velasquez – 31 or 32 years old.  Born in New York, but Parents are from Puerto Rico.  Had one daughter named Milka.  118
28) Marvin Antonio Doubleday — 22 years old from Honduras.  He pumped gas at a Bronx service station.  119  Had a wife, Dilcia Pineda? Was in country illegally. 57) Marco Vinicio Martinez (GARIFUNA) – 23 years old from Honduras.  120Good friend of Dennis Alvarez (Denny Elroy Alvarez).  Who also died in the Happy Land Fire.  121From Barrio Cristales neighborhood in  Trujillo, Honduras. 122 87) Nicholas Zapata Guadron – 22 years old, from Potrerillos, Honduras.  123Worked in construction and painting. Came to New York two years prior.  Friends with Wilfredo Castillo and Jose Diaz, who also died in the Happy Land Social Club Fire.  124
29) Luis Gustavo Drummond 58) Marisol Martinez  — Cousin of Catalina Nunez.  125
59) Ines Maximo

 

For those unable to see the chart, here’s a breakdown list of the ethnicities and/or nationalities of the Victims of the Happy Land Social Club Fire.

GARIFUNA

Denny Eloy Alvarez (Trujillo, Colon, Honduras)

Ana Luisa Moss Centino (Puerto Barrios, Guatemala)

Juan Carlos Colon (San Pedro Sula, Honduras)

Luis Abraham Manaiza (Francia, Honduras)

Wendy Manaiza (Francia, Honduras)

Mario Martinez (Santa Rosa de Aguan, Honduras)

Marco Vinicio Martinez (Honduras)

Rene Mena Jr. (Honduras)

Susan Gayle Samms (Belize)

Maybe (?) GARIFUNA

Jose Ambrosio Alvarez (Honduras) — Barrio Cristales neighborhood in Trujillo, Honduras

Frankie Tomas Arana — Last name suggests to me that he is Garifuna.  Not sure though.

Israel Antonio Bulnes (Honduras) — Last name suggests to me he is Garifuna.

Yanet Castro / Janet Castro / Yaneth Mercedes Castro — From San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  Just a hunch.  Not sure if she is Garifuna at all.

Norman Omar Romero Clark (Honduras) — Related to Wendy Manaiza, possibly Garifuna.

Justa Gladys Crisanto — Last name suggests to me that this person is Garifuna.

Marco Julio Dolmo — Last name suggests to me that this person is Garifuna.

Orvin Garbutt — Black from Honduras, but I am not sure if he is Garifuna.  There are Jamaican / West Indian descendants who for generations lived in Honduras.  Very possibly could be that.

Erlinda or Linda Gomez — she’s from Puerto Cortes, Honduras which is a Garifuna village. Just a hunch, but she’s probably Garifuna.

Isabel Christina Lopez — related to Wendy Manaiza, father from Honduras.

Carla Maldonado — Cousin of Erlinda Gomez, who is from Puerto Cortes, Honduras.  Perhaps Garifuna.

Ines Maximo — Last name suggests to me that this person is Garifuna.

Daphne Beaumont McKenzie — Beaumonts are well known, prosperous Black family in Honduras.  From Calejon Campo Rojo neighborhood in Puerto Cortes, Honduras.  Is she Garifuna though?  Not sure.  Could be Jamaican / West Indian descendant who have generations of family in Honduras.

Carlos Roberto Peri — Last name suggests to me that this person is Garifuna.

Miriam Elena Pineda — Cousin of Erlinda Gomez who is from Puerto Cortes, Honduras.  Perhaps Garifuna

Alba Escoto Romero — Related to Wendy Manaiza, possibly Garifuna.

Query Francisco Romero — Related to Wendy Manaiza, possibly Garifuna.

HONDURAN

Hector Alvarez

Cruz Loredo Robledo Alvarez (Barrio Cristales neighborhood, Trujillo, Honduras) Bartender at Happy Land Social Club.

Dagoberto Echeverri-Barahona (Puerto Cortes, Honduras)

Victor Hugo Cordova (San Pedro Sula, Honduras)

Lester Rolando Cruz (Potrerillos, Cortes, Honduras)

Jose Alexis Hernandez Diaz (Potrerillos, Cortes, Honduras)

Marvin Antonio Doubleday

Sandra Beltran Enanora (San Pedro Sula, Honduras)

Omar Escobar (Tela, Honduras)

Nohemy Aracely Luque de Garcia

Lenny Lennin Ernesto Gamoneda (Tela, Honduras)

Marco Tulio Gamoneda (Tela, Honduras)

Jose Francisco Gonzalez (from Catacamas, Olancho — Near Tegucigalpa, Honduras)

Jose Manuel Marquez Hernandez

Casimiro Evo Lopez or Casimiro Ebo Lopez

Hilda McKenzie

Samuel McKenzie

Evelio Mejia

Nelson Mejia

Juan Jose Nunez

Samuel Ortiz — Tela, Honduras

Mario Pacheco

Caloctro Calixto (Carlos) Alfaro Paz (Potrerillos, Cortes, Honduras)

Jose Amilcar Alfaro Paz (Potrerillos, Cortes, Honduras)

Eli J. Pena

Wilfredo Castillo-Perdomo (Potrerillos, Cortes, Honduras)

Miriam Elena Pineda (Puerto Cortes, Honduras)

Nicholas Zapata-Guadron (Potrerillos, Cortes, Honduras)

Other NATIONALITIES

Victor Hugo Benavides (San Jacinta Neighborhood, San Salvador, El Salvador)

Elias Colon (Juanadia, Puerto Rico)

Carlos E. Contreras or Henry Contreras (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)

Israel Laureano / Lauriano Sr (Puerto Rico)

Mauricio Lopez (El Salvador)

Yvette Murray (African-American)

Yvonne Murray (African-American)

Wilson Efrain Pesantez (Pucara de Cuenca, Ecuador)

Minerva Ramos Duprey (Isabella, Puerto Rico)

Betsabe Betsy Torres (Niece of Survivor Lydia Feliciano)

Paula Rios Velasquez (U.S. Citizen, Born in New York, Parents from Puerto Rico)

UNKNOWN

Malvin Alicea

Carla Chavez

Francisco Chavez (Friend of Survivor Robert Mitchell Suazo)

Ramon Colon

Natalie Dantzler (U.S. Citizen?)

Luis Gustavo Drummond

Daisy Marie Falco

Debra Farrington

Lorretta Farrington

Jose Ramon Flores

Carmen Hernandez

Enrique Hinds or Henry Hinds

Ann Marie Hunt

Juan Javier

Charles Joseph

Kim Marlone or Marlowe

Aida Margarita Martinez (one article says she is Honduran, another says Puerto Rican)

Marisol Martinez (one article says she is Honduran, another says Puerto Rican)

Mircia Edenia Moncada Meza

Dionicio Moreira

Nilda Ortiz

Juan Andres Pena (Dominican Republic?)

Clemente Henry Reyes

 

New York Newsday Coverage Of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

New York Newsday Coverage Of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

In 2014, I came across two different media accounts of The Happy Land Fire on Youtube.  One video was of a WNBC news account and the other was from a WABC news account, both based in New York City.  While strikingly different, each video was instructive and insightful.  Being able to SEE images from this tragedy also helps viewers get a better sense of the horror of that late night / early morning in the Bronx.

In the WNBC video, dated March 25th 1990; TV News Anchors Ralph Penza and Carol Jenkins of the News 4 New York show reported on the Happy Land Social Club Fire as events unfolded.  They open by saying that a night of “dancing and laughter turned into gasping for air and then death”.  Reporter David Diaz guides a viewer through a detailed report of this tragic happening.

The WNBC report’s account is split into the Crime itself, a brief profile of the Perpetrator Julio Gonzales, The Anguish of the Families and Reaction to this Tragedy by New York City Mayor David Dinkins.  The Happy Land Social Club Fire took place a few weeks into his administration.  As the First Black Mayor of New York City, this was quite a tragedy to have to deal with.

It’s spooky watching this video as I see so many people that I recognize.  Folks like Franco Mena and Nivida Salmeron, both Honduran Garifunas based in New York City.  Watching them console people who just learned that loved ones perished in that tragedy as well as watching them give details that help clarify the circumstance of this tragedy.

When Nivida Salmeron explains that the staircase leading to the second floor dance floor of the Happy Land Social Club was so narrow, only one person could walk it at a time, I begin to see just what a deathtrap that place was.

In the WABC video, dated March 25th 1990; Anchor Rolanda Watts of Eyewitness News and Co-Anchor Jay Scott guide viewers into a more clinical examination of the tragedy. It also provides some atmosphere what was going on in New York City at the time.  WABC’s coverage is split up into:

  • The Crime
  • Scene of The Crime —
  • Relatives of Victims
  • Response by New York City Mayor, David Dinkins.
  • War Against Unsafe and Illegal Clubs — Challenge Identifying them and Shutting Them Down.  History of building that housed Happy Land Social Club.
  • Fire Department — Did budget cutbacks prevent The New York Fire Department from getting to the scene of the fire sooner?
  • Recap

As bodies covered in soot were brought out the Happy Land Social Club, laid out on the sidewalk asphalt in front and covered with blankets, it serves as a chilling reminder as to what happened.

In this WABC news report, viewers get to see Conceptual Drawings by Marilyn Church of what some of the victims inside the Happy Land Social Club were doing.  Reporter N.J. Burkett explains in voiceover that upon entering the Happy Land Social Club, firefighters found a

  • “man who died reaching for a fire extinguisher”
  • “a stairway lined with bodies that led to a leading with even MORE bodies”
  • “a second floor doorway that was choked with victims”
  • “people who died as they ran for their lives”

According to Firefighter Dennis Devlin,

” we had a report of people trapped inside, and yet, there was not a sound, coming from inside, it was just devastating.  As quick as you would pick a body up, there would be two bodies under it.  Some of them fused together from the heat.” — Firefighter Dennis Devlin  

And who could forget New York City Mayor David Dinkins memorable declaration that he wanted the image “etched in his mind” and that it was  “a scene that would move anybody” ?  The Happy Land Social Club sparked new building code safety laws and regulations that reverberate to this day.  Sadly, it was too late for the victims of that tragic fire.

New York Newsday Coverage Of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

New York Newsday Coverage Of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

Happy Land Social Club Fire Survivors

RUBEN VALLADAREZ (The DJ of The Happy Land Social Club that night).  Over 40 percent of his body was burned (he had burns on his hands, legs and face) running through flames while escaping The Happy Land Social Club.  He now lives in Florida, is married and has two daughters.  126

LYDIA FELICIANO (Coat Check Girl of The Happy Land Social Club, and ex-girlfriend of JULIO GONZALEZ, who set the fire).  According to a 2010 New York Daily News Article, she is in a nursing home on dialysis and was recovering from open heart surgery.  127 She was 45 years old at the time of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.  128

ELENA COLON (wife of the owner of The Happy Land Social Club, ELIAS COLON, who died in the fire)

FELIPE FIGUEROA (worked as a bouncer of The Happy Land Social Club that night).  Cousin of DJ, Ruben Valladarez. 129

ROBERTO ARQUETA / ROBERTO MITCHELL SUAZO 130 23 years old.  Furniture deliveryman. Lived in the Bronx.  Arrived in the United States 5 years prior.  131

LUCAS GALEAS (friend of Roberto Arqueta), 24 years old. Lived in the East Tremont Section of the Bronx.  132

New York Times Coverage Of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

New York Times Coverage Of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

In reading the many newspaper articles that regarding the Happy Land Social Club Fire, it is infuriating reading of the disrespect inflicted upon the families of the victims of this tragedy.  There were also a few inflammatory articles that, 25 years later, still make me want to holler.  Whether it’s the behavior of survivor Elena Colon at one of the wakes for Happy Land Social Club Fire Victims, to reading a story about how Julio Gonzalez was in jail and was distraught upon learning that his intended victim, Lydia Figueroa, SURVIVED in contrast to all the lives lost, to the behavior of the Honduran president, the whole affair was one sad happening that exposed the many issues underlying this tragedy.  Immigration, Poverty, Class, Race(?), New York City bureaucracy, etc.

Inside The Happy Land Social Club after the fire. Photo from toxiclitigationblog.com

Inside The Happy Land Social Club after the fire. Photo from toxiclitigationblog.com

About The Garifuna People

The Garifuna people are people of African descent (in other words, Black people) whose ancestry can be traced to Africans mixing with Carib Indians and Arawak Indians on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent.  From this fusion of race and ethnicities in St. Vincent Island, a distinct culture and language arose.  They are noted for being one of the few (only?) peoples of African descent (again, in other words, Black people) in the Americas to have maintained aspects of their ancestral culture and full use of their ancestral language for everyday use over the course of hundreds of years.

After being defeated in war with the British on St. Vincent in 1796; 1004 men,  1779 women and 1,555 children for a total of 4,338 people (mostly Black Caribs, as the Garifuna people  were then known) were captured and taken to Baliceaux, a small island, a rock, basically, off the coast of St. Vincent.  This took place from July 1796 through February/March 1797.  About 2,000 Garifunas died of a mysterious and very infectious fever while living on Baliceaux awaiting their fate.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.  Donations are accepted via the PAYPAL website so your potential donations are SAFE and SECURE.

In early March 1797, the remaining Garifunas were loaded onto the HMS Experiment and other ships.  Once they were rounded up, the convoy were taken to a Bequia, which is another island off the coast of St. Vincent. They proceeded to go to Grenada to get water, then Jamaica for refueling, then finally Roatan, Honduras, arriving on April 12th 1797.

Finding much of Roatan unliveable, the Garifuna people petitioned officials representing Spain and it’s government (which controlled much of Central America at the time) to be allowed to move to the Honduran mainland.  Upon being allowed to move to the Honduran mainland, the Garifunas settled many towns and villages along the Caribean coast of Honduras.  They also migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.

Finally, Garifuna People have also migrated to the United States of America where generations have settled in cities like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.  Despite their mainly Spanish surnames, their culture and history are distinct from other Afro-American and Latino ethnic groups and it’s important to keep that in mind.

Logo for 2014 Garifuna American Heritage Month. Logo by Ivan Moreira.

Logo for 2014 Garifuna American Heritage Month. Logo by Ivan Moreira.

About Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York

March 11th through April 12th is designated Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York.  This period of time marks the date the Garifunas were removed from the St. Vincent area, traveled in a convoy of mostly British ships across the Caribbean Sea and the date the Garifunas reached Central America.  Specifically, Roatan, Honduras on April 12th 1797.  When in Roatan, the Garifunas petitioned the Spanish government to be allowed to move to the mainland of Honduras.  From there the Garifunas migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.

Garifuna American Heritage Month is designed to reflect on and observe the forced removal of the Garifuna people (then known as Black Caribs) from their ancestral land of the island of St. Vincent in 1797 to their arrival in Central America on April 12th 1797.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.  Donations are accepted via the PAYPAL website so your potential donations are SAFE and SECURE.

According to a press release from the non-profit organization the Garifuna Coalition USA Inc, Garifuna American Heritage Month in New York also,

“celebrates the great contributions of Garífuna-Americans to the fabric of New York City and New York State, and pays tribute to the common culture and bonds of friendship that unite the United States and the Garífuna’s countries of origin (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras Nicaragua and St Vincent and the Grenadines.)”.

The Garifuna Coalition adds, “New York City is home to the largest Garífuna Community outside of Central America!  However, although Garífunas have been migrating here in search of a better life since the 1930s; the community was virtually obscured until the Happy Land Social Club fire on March 25th, 1990.”

Most of the victims of that tragedy were Honduran, many were of Garifuna descent. 133  Overall, the idea is to pay tribute to the survival and resiliency of the Garifuna people and also highlight the contributions made by Garifunas to the state of New York and the United States of America.

Front Cover of the New York Daily News about the Happy Land Social Club Fire.

Front Cover of the New York Daily News about the Happy Land Social Club Fire.

 

New York Daily News Coverage of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

New York Daily News Coverage of The Happy Land Social Club Fire.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.  Donations are accepted via the PAYPAL website so your potential donations are SAFE and SECURE.

Notes:

  1. http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/mass/happyland/fuego_3.html
  2. http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/video?id=7351431&pid=null
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Land_fire
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Land_fire
  5. http://nysdoccslookup.doccs.ny.gov/GCA00P00/WIQ3/WINQ130
  6. Associated Press, “Pledge To Build Bronx Center”, New York Times, April 21st 1990.  http://www.nytimes.com/1990/04/21/nyregion/pledge-to-build-bronx-center.html
  7. Mirta Ojito, “Central Americans in New York Scramble to Help Hurricane Victims” New York Times, November 4th 1998.
  8. Dennis Hevesi, “Guilty Plea by Landlord In Fire Case”, New York TImes, May 9th 1992.
  9. Juan Gonzalez, “Happy Land Sad Ending” New York Daily News, July 6th 1995. http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/happy-land-sad-ending-article-1.696908
  10. Thomas J. Lueck, “Slide From Riches for Landlord In Happy Land Case”, New York Times, July 8th 1995. http://www.nytimes.com/1995/07/08/nyregion/slide-from-riches-for-landlord-in-happy-land-case.html
  11. Edna Negron, “Club Tragedy An Awakening for Garifuna”, New York Newsday, Sunday, August 18th 1991.
  12. Evelyn Nieves, “Refugee Found Guilty of Killing 87 in Bronx Happy Land Fire”, New York Times, August 20th 1991.
  13. Mark Anderson, “Black and Indigenous: Garifuna Activism and Consumer Culture in Honduras”. Copyright 2009. Publisher: University of Minnesota Press.
  14. Sarah England, “Afro Central Americans in New York City: Garifuna Tales of Transnational Movements in Racialized Space” pg 14-17. Copyright 2006, Publisher University Press of Florida
  15. Herbert Lowe, “Relatives remember Social Club Fire Victims”, New York Newsday, March 28th 2004.
  16. 134Eddie Borges, Mark Kriegel, “Tragedy Takes Their American Dream”, New York Daily News, Sunday, April 1st 1990.
  17. “Among the Victims: Parents, Siblings, Kids” New York Newsday, March 27th 1990.
  18. Ellen O’Brien, Efrain Hernandez Jr., “For Chelsea Couple, A Fatal Repeat Visit”, The Boston Globe, March 26th 1990.
  19. Juan Gonzalez, “Orphaned kids they left behind”, New York Daily News, Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  20. Juan Gonzalez, “Roll Down Your Window; Stories of a Forgotten America”. Copyright 1995. Publisher: Verso ISBN: 0-86091-693-6
  21. Ron Howell, “Tiny Town Awaits Grim Homecoming: Families mourn their sons who dreamed of life in U.S.” New York Newsday. Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  22. Eddie Borges, Mark Kriegel, “Tragedy Takes Their American Dream”, New York Daily News, Sunday, April 1st 1990.
  23. Edna Negron, Michael Powell, “Families’ Shared Tears: Relatives killed in Fire are Remembered”, New York Newsday, Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  24. Juan Gonzalez, “Orphaned kids they left behind”, New York Daily News, Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  25. Eddie Borges, Mark Kriegel, “Tragedy Takes Their American Dream”, New York Daily News, Sunday, April 1st 1990.
  26. Juan Gonzalez, “Roll Down Your Window; Stories of a Forgotten America”. Copyright 1995. Publisher: Verso ISBN: 0-86091-693-6
  27. Ron Howell, “Tiny Town Awaits Grim Homecoming: Families mourn their sons who dreamed of life in U.S.” New York Newsday. Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  28. Evelyn Hernandez, Alexis Jetter, Rita Giordano, “Funerals Begin Today in Wake Of Bronx Blaze” New York Newsday, Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  29. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qjUhOlA2Ic&spfreload=10
  30. Evelyn Hernandez, Edna Negron, Michael Powell, “Mourners Share Their Pain: Hundreds Gather In Bronx For First Emotional Wakes” New York Newsday, Thursday March 29th 1990.
  31. Ellen O’Brien, Efrain Hernandez Jr., “For Chelsea Couple, A Fatal Repeat Visit”, The Boston Globe, March 26th 1990.
  32. Juan Gonzalez, “Orphaned kids they left behind”, New York Daily News, Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  33. Andrew Maykuth, “At Apartment House, ‘Family’ Grieves”. Philadelphia Inquirer, March 28th 1990.
  34. Mike Santangelo, “Deejay is a club survivor” New York Daily News, Monday, March 26th 1990.
  35. Edna Negron, “The Last Journey Home For Dennis Alvarez”, New York Newsday, Monday, April 2nd 1990.
  36. Andrew Maykuth, “At Apartment House, ‘Family’ Grieves”. Philadelphia Inquirer, March 28th 1990.
  37. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qjUhOlA2Ic&spfreload=10
  38. “Among the Victims: Parents, Siblings, Kids” New York Newsday, March 27th 1990.
  39. Andrew Maykuth, “At Apartment House, ‘Family’ Grieves”. Philadelphia Inquirer, March 28th 1990.
  40. “7 Victims: Their Stories, Struggles and Dreams Of Better Lives” New York Times, Thursday, March 29th 1990.
  41. “Garifuna Community Revisits ‘Happy Land’ Tragedy That Killed 87. March 2007. http://www.diegograglia.net/garifuna-community-revisit-happy-land-tragedy-that-killed-87/
  42. Doralisa Pilarte, “Honduran Bronx Club Fire Victims Had Sought Better Life”, Associated Press, April 2nd 1990.
  43. Mike Santangelo, “Deejay is a club survivor” New York Daily News, Monday, March 26th 1990.
  44. Edna Negron, “Town Bids Final Farewell” New York Newsday, Tuesday, April 3rd 1990.
  45. Sonia Reyes, Don Broderick, Mark Mooney; “Oh My God! Please Forgive Me!’ Suspect is told his best friend died in Happy Land arson” New York Post, Tuesday, April 3rd 1990.
  46. Zachary Margulis, “Happy Land Blaze Sears Memories 5 Years Later”, New York Daily News, Sunday, March 26th 1995.
  47. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/08/16/nyregion/mourning-87-they-sit-and-wait-stone-faced-for-justice.html
  48. Doralisa Pilarte, “Bodies of New York Fire Victims Returned Home”, Associated Press, April 1st 1990.
  49. “Among the Victims: Parents, Siblings, Kids” New York Newsday, March 27th 1990.
  50. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/08/16/nyregion/mourning-87-they-sit-and-wait-stone-faced-for-justice.html
  51. Doralisa Pilarte, “Bodies of New York Fire Victims Returned Home”, Associated Press, April 1st 1990.
  52. Alexis Jetter, “Search Ends In Sadness: Lost Daughter Is Found”, New York Newsday, Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  53. Juan Gonzalez, “Orphaned kids they left behind”, New York Daily News, Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  54. Rocco Parascandola, Andrea Peyser, “Festive Mood Turned To Mourning”, New York Post, Monday, March 26th 1990.
  55. “Among the Victims: Parents, Siblings, Kids” New York Newsday, March 27th 1990.
  56. Andrew Maykuth, “At Apartment House, ‘Family’ Grieves”. Philadelphia Inquirer, March 28th 1990.
  57. Melinda Henneberger, Elaine Rivera, Chapin Wright; “From Many Roads, Many Lives, Converge In Death”, New York Newsday, SUNDAY, April 1st 1990.
  58. Eddie Borges, Mark Kriegel, “Tragedy Takes Their American Dream”, New York Daily News, Sunday, April 1st 1990.
  59. Tanyanika Samuels, “Seeking Little Sister 20 Years After Losing Mom in Happy Land Social Club Fire”, New York Daily News, Sunday, August 28th 2011.
  60. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/29/nyregion/fire-in-the-bronx-7-victims-their-stories-struggles-and-dreams-of-better-lives.html
  61. Albert Davila, Patrice O’Shaughnessy, “Victims just too young to die”, New York Daily News, Monday, March 26th 1990.
  62. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/26/nyregion/fire-in-the-bronx-the-living-search-the-faces-of-the-dead.html
  63. “Among The Victims: Parents, Siblings, Kids” New York Newsday, Tuesday, March 27th 1990
  64. “In Honduras, an Agonizing Wait”, New York Newsday, Monday, March 26th 1990.
  65. Michele McPhee, “Sirens Still Haunt Happy Land Nabe”, New York Daily News, Sunday, May 18th 1997.
  66. Charles M. Sennott, “Waiting in Agony. ‘My Babies’: A mom’s pain”, New York Daily News, Monday, March 26th 1990.
  67. 135Juan Gonzalez, “Roll Down Your Window; Stories of a Forgotten America”. Copyright 1995. Publisher: Verso ISBN: 0-86091-693-6
  68. “7 Victims: Their Stories, Struggles and Dreams Of Better Lives” New York Times, Thursday, March 29th 1990.
  69. “Fire Victims Waked; Kin Get Personal Items” The Daily Gazette; Thursday, March 29th 1990
  70. Melinda Henneberger, Elaine Rivera, Chapin Wright; “From Many Roads, Many Lives, Converge In Death”, New York Newsday, SUNDAY, April 1st 1990.
  71. Juan Gonzalez, “Roll Down Your Window; Stories of a Forgotten America”. Copyright 1995. Publisher: Verso ISBN: 0-86091-693-6
  72. Juan Gonzalez, “For One Man, It’s A Tragically Small World”. New York Daily News, Tuesday, March 27th 1990.
  73. “Grief and Bitterness Smolder In The Embers Of A Fatal Fire; He Still Hears The Screams Inside: Roberto Mitchell Suazo”; The New York Times, March 25th 1991.
  74. Juan Gonzalez, “Happy Land 5 Years Later” New York Daily News, Thursday, March 23rd 1995.
  75. 136Eddie Borges, Mark Kriegel, “Tragedy Takes Their American Dream”, New York Daily News, Sunday, April 1st 1990.
  76. “Grief and Bitterness Smolder In The Embers Of A Fatal Fire; He Still Hears The Screams Inside: Roberto Mitchell Suazo”; The New York Times, March 25th 1991.
  77. Barbara Rosen, “Fire Victim Mourners Flood Funeral Homes” The Daily Gazette; Thursday, March 29th 1990.
  78. “Fire Victims Waked; Kin Get Personal Items” The Daily Gazette; Thursday, March 29th 1990
  79. Ron Howell, “Outpouring of Grief for Victims of Blaze: Anguished relatives greet Red Cross plane at airport” New York Newsday, Monday, April 2nd 1990.
  80. Edna Negron, Michael Powell, “Families’ Shared Tears: Relatives killed in Fire are Remembered”, New York Newsday, Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  81. Evelyn Hernandez, Alexis Jetter, Rita Giordano, “Funerals Begin Today in Wake Of Bronx Blaze” New York Newsday, Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  82. Maria Alvarez, Curtis Rist, “Revelers Who Partied For The Last Time”, New York Newsday, Monday, March 26th 1990.
  83. “Andrew Maykuth, “N.Y. Fire Suspect Described as Down To His Last Hope” Philadelphia Inquirer, March 27th 1990.
  84. “Among the Victims: Parents, Siblings, Kids” New York Newsday, March 27th 1990.
  85. Edna Negron, “Town Bids Final Farewell” New York Newsday, Tuesday, April 3rd 1990.
  86. Juan Gonzalez, “Happy Land 5 Years Later” New York Daily News, Thursday, March 23rd 1995.
  87. http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/happy-land-fire-haunts-mom-article-1.287028
  88. “Among the Victims: Parents, Siblings, Kids” New York Newsday, March 27th 1990.
  89. Robert E. Tomasson, “Shock Lingers as Happy Land Trial Starts”, New York Times, July 9th 1991.
  90. Sonia Reyes, Don Broderick, Mark Mooney; “Oh My God! Please Forgive Me!’ Suspect is told his best friend died in Happy Land arson” New York Post, Tuesday, April 3rd 1990.
  91. Mitch Gelman and Evelyn Hernandez, “Final Goodbyes Under Sun In the Bronx: First Burials for victims of club fire” New York Newsday, Friday, March 30th 1990.
  92. Elaine Rivera, Edna Negron, Suzanne Bilello, Julie Shpiesel, Scott Yates, Carol Polsky, and William Douglas. Written by Clara Hemphill and Catherine Woodard. “For Families, Memories Both Bitter and Sweeet: Relatives Recall What Led Victims To Club”. New York Newsday, Tuesday, March 27th 1990.
  93. Eddie Borges, Mark Kriegel, “Tragedy Takes Their American Dream”, New York Daily News, Sunday, April 1st 1990.
  94. Eddie Borges, Stuart Marques “Funeral Arrangements Add Grief To New York City Fire Tragedy”, Spokane Chronicle, March 27th 1990, New York Daily News.
  95. Melinda Henneberger, Elaine Rivera, Chapin Wright; “From Many Roads, Many Lives, Converge In Death”, New York Newsday, SUNDAY, April 1st 1990.
  96. “Among the Victims: Parents, Siblings, Kids” New York Newsday, March 27th 1990.
  97. “Among the Victims: Parents, Siblings, Kids” New York Newsday, March 27th 1990.
  98. Edna Negron, Michael Powell, “Families’ Shared Tears: Relatives killed in Fire are Remembered”, New York Newsday, Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  99. Eddie Borges, Mark Kriegel, “Tragedy Takes Their American Dream”, New York Daily News, Sunday, April 1st 1990.
  100. Edna Negron, Michael Powell, “Families’ Shared Tears: Relatives killed in Fire are Remembered”, New York Newsday, Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  101. Edna Negron, “Town Bids Final Farewell” New York Newsday, Tuesday, April 3rd 1990.
  102. Juan Gonzalez, “Roll Down Your Window; Stories of a Forgotten America”. Copyright 1995. Publisher: Verso ISBN: 0-86091-693-6
  103. “Among the Victims: Parents, Siblings, Kids” New York Newsday, Tuesday, March 27th 1990.
  104. Ron Howell, “Tiny Town Awaits Grim Homecoming: Families mourn their sons who dreamed of life in U.S.” New York Newsday. Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  105. Eddie Borges, Mark Kriegel, “Tragedy Takes Their American Dream”, New York Daily News, Sunday, April 1st 1990.
  106. Suzanne Bilello, “Nightmare of Red Tape”, New York Newsday, Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  107. Edna Negron, Michael Powell, “Families’ Shared Tears: Relatives killed in Fire are Remembered”, New York Newsday, Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  108. Juan Gonzalez, “Happy Land Why City Can’t Forget”, New York Daily News, Friday, March 24th 1995.
  109. Doralisa Pilarte, “Bodies of New York Fire Victims Returned Home”, Associated Press, April 1st 1990.
  110. Ron Howell, “Outpouring of Grief for Victims of Blaze: Anguished relatives greet Red Cross plane at airport” New York Newsday, Monday, April 2nd 1990.
  111. Joseph Kirby and Jessie Mangaliman, “A Long Journey Home: Honduras to Receive Fire Victims”, New York Newsday, Saturday, March 31st 1990.
  112. 137Juan Gonzalez, “Roll Down Your Window; Stories of a Forgotten America”. Copyright 1995. Publisher: Verso ISBN: 0-86091-693-6
  113. “7 Victims: Their Stories, Struggles and Dreams Of Better Lives” New York Times, Thursday, March 29th 1990.
  114. Ron Howell, “Tiny Town Awaits Grim Homecoming: Families mourn their sons who dreamed of life in U.S.” New York Newsday. Wednesday, March 28th 1990.
  115. “Among the Victims: Parents, Siblings, Kids” New York Newsday, March 27th 1990.
  116. Mitch Gelman and Evelyn Hernandez, “Final Goodbyes Under Sun In the Bronx: First Burials for victims of club fire” New York Newsday, Friday, March 30th 1990.
  117. Michele McPhee, “Sirens Still Haunt Happy Land Nabe”, New York Daily News, Sunday, May 18th 1997.
  118. “7 Victims: Their Stories, Struggles and Dreams Of Better Lives” New York Times, Thursday, March 29th 1990.
  119. Raul Reyes, “A ‘Better Life’ Ends in Death” Associated Press, Eugene Register-Guard, April 1st 1990.
  120. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/26/nyregion/fire-in-the-bronx-the-living-search-the-faces-of-the-dead.html
  121. Edna Negron, “The Last Journey Home For Dennis Alvarez”, New York Newsday, Monday, April 2nd 1990.
  122. Edna Negron, “Town Bids Final Farewell” New York Newsday, Tuesday, April 3rd 1990.
  123. Juan Gonzalez, “Roll Down Your Window; Stories of a Forgotten America”. Copyright 1995. Publisher: Verso ISBN: 0-86091-693-6
  124. “7 Victims: Their Stories, Struggles and Dreams Of Better Lives” New York Times, Thursday, March 29th 1990.
  125. Michele McPhee, “Sirens Still Haunt Happy Land Nabe”, New York Daily News, Sunday, May 18th 1997.
  126. http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/jealous-ex-boyfriend-fury-killed-87-happy-land-fire-20-years-article-1.173625
  127. http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/jealous-ex-boyfriend-fury-killed-87-happy-land-fire-20-years-article-1.173625
  128. Donatella Lorch, “Fire In The Bronx; Fire Suspect’s Relationship: Placid 8 Years, Angry 5 Weeks” New York Times, March 28th 1990. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/28/nyregion/fire-in-the-bronx-fire-suspect-s-relationship-placid-8-years-angry-5-weeks.html
  129. WNBC News Report https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PS1Ii4-3u0
  130. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/08/16/nyregion/mourning-87-they-sit-and-wait-stone-faced-for-justice.html
  131. Gale Scott, “DJ and 4 Others Escaped Flames”. New York Newsday, Monday, March 26th 1990.
  132. Gale Scott, “DJ and 4 Others Escaped Flames”. New York Newsday, Monday, March 26th 1990.
  133. Edna Negron, “Club Tragedy An Awakening for Garifuna”. New York Newsday, Sunday, August 18th 1991.

Comments

comments

3 thoughts on “(Happy Land Fire) MARCH 25th, The FIFTEENTH Day of GARIFUNA American Heritage Month in New York (Happy Land Social Club Fire Tragedy)

  1. I noticed a name on here Nilda Ortiz. Ironically that is my mothers name but there is a difference, my mom is alive but would have not been. My grandfather and my mom decided not to go to the Happyland to celebrate her 42nd. Her legal birthdate is March 25th. However the Nilda Ortiz that died had a second last name… Torres. So it is Nilda Ortiz Torres, no relation to me. I don’t know her family either

    • Saragu Seremein (“Many Thanks” in the Garifuna Language) for your input about victim Nilda Ortiz of the Happy Land Social Club Fire, Naomi Roman. It is very helpful. I will edit the name right now.

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