General, Solidarity

Líderes del PIP visitan a Oscar López

Posted on 29 January 2014


WASHINGTON– Líderes del Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño (PIP) se reunían al mediodía, hora de Puerto Rico,  con el prisionero político puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera, en la cárcel de Terre Haute, Indiana.

En el encuentro participaron la senadora María de Lourdes Santiago y el secretario general del PIP, Juan Dalmau.

Ayer, los dos políticos del PIP tuvieron reuniones con líderes de la comunidad puertorriqueña de Chicago, familiares de López Rivera y su abogada Jan Susler.

“Ha sido para nosotros una experiencia conmovedora sentir, aquí en Chicago, la perseverancia de nuestra nacionalidad y de la lucha por la independencia de Puerto Rico en las condiciones más adversas”, indicó la senadora Santiago.

Dalmau, por su parte, sostuvo que espera “que esta visita sirva para fortalecer y reafirmar aún más nuestros vínculos con los compatriotas acá en Chicago”.


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Open Letter to the President (re: A Pardon for Oscar López Rivera)

Posted on 10 December 2013


POR    - 80 Grados
Dear President Obama:

Here in Puerto Rico, your lunch with now Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla is commemorated by way of a small plaque on the table in the restaurant where you paid cash for a sandwich in a button-down white shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I presume that the restaurant owners placed the plaque there because customers might want to sit at the same table where the President of the United States ate a sandwich—they might even want to have their picture taken there. They’re probably right: people often enjoy imbuing everyday activities with historical significance, even when the historical event in question here was not all that significant, not when compared to the kinds of things that usually make up the history of nations and so forth. Several months after you left, the island government unveiled a statue of you across the street from the Capitol building in San Juan, next to statues of all the other Presidents who had visited Puerto Rico during the history of American colonial rule over the island. They’re not that many. And there’s no record of what they ate, I don’t think.

I share this because, like so many here, I have a somewhat distorted notion of history and of the events that comprise it. For example, I know that you are the 44thPresident of the U.S. and that you were first sworn into office on January 20, 2009. I know this because I turned 30 years old that day and was standing in a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Washington D.C, overwhelmed by the sight of you on the big screen approaching the podium to address the crowd as President for the very first time. I remember thinking “this is historic,” and I even managed to convince myself that, although I had stood in the middle of a crowd before, that particular occasion was significant. To commemorate it, I bought and kept a copy of the New York Times. However, by the time you made your first visit to Puerto Rico in June 2011, I, as perhaps others around the world, was already significantly underwhelmed by the moral character of your presidency. I sometimes wonder whether it will be those feelings of deception, disillusion and supreme disappointment experienced by millions that will define you historically. Sometimes I hope so. Sometimes I hope not.

Anyway, I’m writing because this past Saturday, I was standing in the middle of a crowd of tens of thousands in front of the Federal Court Building in San Juan, and I was overwhelmed by the sight of so many diverse groups of people set to march through the city to demand the liberation of Oscar López Rivera, who has served more than 32 years in federal prison for conspiring to oppose U.S. authority by force. At present, he is the longest held political prisoner in America, although he was never convicted of directly harming anybody. During his incarceration he has been subjected to behavioral modification programs, kept in isolation. He is 70 years old, has a daughter and a granddaughter whom he met through the glass in a prison visiting room. He deserves to be back home. To be honest, on January 20, 2009, I was unaware of the particulars of Mr. López Rivera’s incarceration. I was aware, of course, of the historical struggle in Puerto Rico for independence from the U.S., and of the many men and women who have been imprisoned by the federal government throughout the history of U.S. colonial rule over the island for attempting to liberate our country—an at once beautiful and nefarious legacy, no doubt. This notwithstanding, it was your name (and not Oscar’s) that I learned to say first, as an affirmation of hope for more progressive politics, individual liberties and social justice—an unfortunate but typical effect of colonialism, no doubt. Thankfully, I don’t say it that way any longer. Instead, I write down the name OSCAR in big, black letters on a poster board and, like thousands upon thousands inside and outside the island, I hope against all odds that you pay attention to a place where people are expected to pay you homage simply because you dropped by and ate a sandwich. I’m writing because I, like so many of us here, would like to have Mr. López Rivera back on the island so we could run into him casually at lunch time and have the opportunity to shake his hand and thank him for doing something as significant as fighting for the liberation of his country and enduring so many years in prison, all the while giving us hope for more progressive politics, individual liberties and social justice. But I digress.

This is just to say that your lunch here in June 2011, is not significant. Nor is your statue, really, as it does not commemorate anything historic you might have done here. People do insignificant things every day, even Presidents. It’s a historical fact. Some facts, however, stand out more than others. The fact that Oscar López Rivera has spent the last three plus decades in prison stands out the most around these parts. Over the last three plus decades, five different Presidents have been sworn into office. I wonder if it would be possible for you to consider standing out amongst them. I wonder if you would be interested in imbuing your presidency with historical significance in the form of a direct action to assuage this injustice perpetrated by the American government. I wonder if you would be interested in affirming the fundamental American principle of freedom and grant a pardon to Mr. López Rivera. I really hope so. At all times.

On Saturday, students at the march were chanting in unison: “Obama can’t talk about freedom, if he keeps brother Oscar incarcerated.” Thousands upon thousands agreed. And now I am tempted to ask, can you?


Guillermo Rebollo-Gil

San Juan, PR

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Posted on 22 November 2013


by Eduardo Arocho

Born and raised in Humboldt Park, Javier Anaya is a Puerto Rican who is investing in his neighborhood and moving in rather than moving out. He has purchased a property on Paseo Boricua (2448 W. Division Street) and is renovating it with plans to move in with his family.

Javier graduated from Wells H.S. and enrolled in the College of Office Technology. Soon after he received his Real Estate license in 1996 and has been working as a Real Estate Broker for Century 21 for the past five years.

Anaya has raised three boys who were all born in Norwegian American Hospital. His oldest, now 21 is a student at Western Illinois University, his 18-year-old son is a student at Harold Washington College and his 6 year old is in first grade.

“I am proud of the fact that all my sons have been born and raised here in Humboldt Park”, says Anaya who is rehabbing a two flat he recently purchased on Division Street. Once rehabbed it will have two apartments, one of which is where Anaya will be moving in with his family. “I don’t believe that in order to be successful that I have to leave my neighborhood,” says Anaya with certainty.

Javier’s other passion is volunteering as an outreach worker for the past 8 years. He has been part of an organization called Both Sides of The Park, which helps high-risk youth and young adults to find alternatives to gangs and violence. He plans to open an Empowerment Center in the Storefront of his new building to serve this population. “Young people are without role models and that hurts our community. They need positive role models, hard working people that they can see on a daily basis and imagine possibilities for themselves and their community”, says Anaya.


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The Rescue staff and our Latino LGBTQ youth residents

Posted on 21 November 2013


Employees of The Rescue / PRCC and our young LGBTQ Latino residents.

We are excited to receive the great news that the Illinois House of Representatives voted 61 has 54 votes last November 5, 2013 in favor of the marriage between people of the same sex and thus has been shown to support our LGBTQ community; it is a great happiness to know that Illinois has become the tenth state in supporting this junction.

This is a great achievement for the LGBTQ community … but personally to the Director of the rescue program that since 2010 has been supporting equal rights for LGBTQ community.


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Culture, General

“Rafael Tufiño Way” in El Barrio N.Y.

Posted on 05 November 2013


(October 18, 2013) The “Painter of the People,” Rafael Tufiño, has become the first New York City-born visual artist of Puerto Rican decent to have a street named in his honor. The tribute became a reality through the unrelenting efforts of Architect Warren James, El Barrio community and arts activist Deborah Quiñones, and NYC Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Representatives from our artistic community and local political camps gathered with members of the Tufiño family that included some of his grandchildren at the NW corner of 103rd Street & Lexington Avenue. In a ceremony filled with joy, acknowledgements and poetry, a new street sign “Rafael Tufiño Way” was unveiled. ( See proceedings:http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1429650&GUID=14EDCD90-CF2A-4831-AF9C-31A429A64663&Options=&Search= )

Among them was Tufiño’s daughter Nitza who has continued his artistic legacy in her own right. She expressed her deep gratitude to those present and to the media for the honor bestowed on her father. A vivid portrait of Don Rafael painted by her is currently part of an exhibition titled “Flights of Fancy”at El Taller Boricua. Nitza Tufiño has become a major advocate for the arts in El Barrio (East Harlem, NYC).

After the street naming ceremony, a reception was held @ El Taller Boricua, housed in the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center, 1680 Lexington Avenue (105th & 106th Street), NYC.

by: http://www.mamboso.net/

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General, La Voz Briefs, Media

Puerto Rican Pioneer Antonio “Tony” Irizarry Feted!

Posted on 29 October 2013


On Sunday, September 15, close to 200 community leaders, elected officials and family members participated in a well-deserved tribute to Antonio “Tony” Irizarry. The Puerto Rican Cultural Center was proud to participate in the tribute, which was organized by Milly Santiago and took place at My Fair Lady Banquets.

Tony was born in Utuado, Puerto Rico and came to the US in 1949, and to Chicago in 1951. He earned degrees soon after from several institutions of higher learning. Tony was a pioneer who envisioned uniting Puerto Rico community leaders, some of whom were Graciano López, Mirta Ramírez, Trina Davila, Elias Diaz y Perez, and Haydee Garcia to name a few. Thanks at least partly to Irizarry’s intervention, the first Puerto Rican Parade Committee was formed and eventually led to the first official Puerto Rican parade in downtown Chicago in 1966.

He has played a leading role in the promotion of Puerto Rican culture, as well as an advocate for Puerto Rican rights. He has been instrumental in creating many Puerto Rican institutions, including “Nuestro Directorio, Fiestas Poblanas Puertorriqueñas, and Nuestro Awards ceremony. He was recently selected as one of the 100 Puerto Rican Pioneers whose life will be archived by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York City.

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