Art can be a means of coping. Art is often a form of rebellion. Art is expected to prompt change. Art, then, is agency.
Latin Americans have fought for equal rights in ways similar to other minorities, with explicit parallels to the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Since colonial history, this struggle for agency and recognition has been a part of the identities of these people. Confined to physical sectors within cities such as New York based upon economic and social statuses, historically Latin Americans sought comfort and empowerment through this sense of community—a trend that continues through the present. This organization of community often directed the strikes and the development of political parties.
Political organizations such as the Young Lords Party and more extreme groups like The Armed Forces of Puerto Rican National Liberation were among the most apparent entities that promote change and resistance. Mainly, these groups protested the US government and its treatment of Latin Americans nationally as well as abroad, while defining the overarching goals and demands that were ignored. The Young Lords Party, borrowing from The Ten-Point Program developed by the Black Panthers, created a list of thirteen aspirations spurred by the Puerto Rican experience in the United States and their critical response to the US control of the island of Puerto. All thirteen of these points can be criticized, strengthened, and even enacted by the process and transmission of art.
Music, painting, photography, dance, theater, and literature are powerful and prevalent components in Latin American resistance of substandard conditions and striving to empower others to call for change. From widely circulated posters to private opposition, art transcends time, place, and even language.
One of the most well-known political activists is Puerto Rican artist Elizam Escobar. Escobar was a member of The Armed Forces of Puerto Rican National Liberation during the 1970s while he was a student in the States. In 1980, Escobar was arrested with eleven other members of this group with charges of planning to bomb Federal property. Originally sentenced to 68 years in a Federal prison, Escobar and the others were granted clemency from President Clinton in 1999. During his incarceration the artist created some of his best-known paintings dealing with his heritage as well as his feelings that he was an anti-colonial prisoner of war. Even while still in prison, many of his works went on exhibition in the United States and Puerto Rico under the title “Art as an Act of Liberation.” Here, Escobar embraces the power that art has to not only cope with his situation but to communicate ideas to others.
Juan Antonio Corretjer is a Puerto Rican poet who like many modern artists propelled his vision of a liberated Puerto Rico and social egalitarianism into his works. Born and raised on the island, Corretjer travelled to New York City to establish himself as a writer, but continued with his political activism which landed him in jail like many other activists of the time. Despite his incarceration, Corretjer continued his alliance with Partido Nacionalista while in New York and his essays and poems served as a critical response to the nature of the problem. One of his more celebrated series of poems is Yerba Bruja (1957) that alludes to the restricting force that the United States and other European countries have afflicted on native populations:
Yerba Bruja (Bewitching Grass)
Caminando por el monte (Walking through the woods)
vi acercándose una estrella. (I saw approaching a star.)
Yerba bruja me ató al pie. (Witch grass tied me to the foot.)
Sentí pesada la lengua. (Tongue felt heavy.)
Debajo de los anones (Under the sugar apple)
un arco lanzó su flecha (a bow and arrow launched)
que era rastro luminoso (it was a bright trail)
de cucubano o luciérnaga. (of Cucubano or firefly.)
Seguí andando, seguí andando (I kept walking, kept walking)
sin saber rumbo ni senda. (without knowing direction or path.)
A un clamor de seboruco (A cry of Seboruco)
llegué al fin. (I got to the end.)
Froté la muesca (I rubbed the notch)
y aspiré el humo sagrado (and inhaled the sacred smoke)
que hace la boca profeta. (mouth-prophet.)
¡Bateyes del Otuao (Bateyes of Otuao)
para la danza guerrera! (for the war dance!)
Tú gritaste, ¡Manicato! (You screamed, manicata!)
Y yo, encima de la puerta, (And I, above the door,)
cuando la noche acababa (when the night had ended)
colgué mi collar de piedra. (I hung my necklace made of stone.)
Juan Antonio Corretjer (1957) 
These two artists represent how powerful the ideals and struggles are within the Puerto Rican communities. With the use of art, as well as centers like El Museo del Barrio that exhibit contributions from Latin Americans, communities can better understand and organize their aspirations for equal rights and self-determination. Since art transcends normal temporal and special boundaries, it has the greatest chance of communicating ideas that can stimulate dialogue that leads to change.
 Morales, Iris. “Power to the People” forward to ¡Palante, Siempre Palante! companion book.
 “Elizam’s Passages.” Puerto Rico Herald. 8 March 2002. Accessed 7 May 2011. http://www.puertorico-herald.org/issues/2002/vol6n10/Elizam-en.html
 Rodríguez, Néstor E. Juan Antonio Corretjer Biography. Accessed 7 May 2011.
 Corretjer, Juan Antonio. Yerba Bruja. Cuidad Seva. Translation by Google. Accessed 7 May 2011