Archive | May, 2010

Chicago Newspapers Publish Deceitful Attacks Against Luis Gutiérrez and Billy Ocasio

Posted on 07 May 2010 by alejandro

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During the first week of March, prominent Chicago media outlets, namely the Tribune and Sun-Times, published negative news stories, columns, editorials, and political cartoons about Luis Gutierrez and his family. These reports focused on a range of issues, including Gutierrez’s place of residence, the FBI’s questioning of him, the role he played in securing his daughter’s employment in a state position, and his daughter’s participation in a 26th Ward affordable housing program.

One set of commentaries pertains to Gutierrez’s residence outside of his Congressional District. While Gutierrez, like many other members of Congress, lives outside of the Congressional District he represents, his commitment to the 4th District is unwavering. Gutierrez was raised in this District, and he resided within its boundaries for nearly fifty years. Moreover, Gutierrez’s constant community outreach efforts make him a strongly felt presence and continually heighten his awareness of his constituents’ needs and concerns.

Another story focuses on the FBI’s questioning of Gutierrez about his relationship with a real estate developer. Since all of Gutierrez’s dealings with this developer were entirely legal, the most interesting thing to note about this story is that it includes a quotation from Elida Cruz. Some readers of La Voz might recognize this as the name of a contributor to the campaign against the Puerto Rican Cultural Center spearheaded by the FBI and the creators of the libelous newspaper, El Pito. It is no coincidence that Elida Cruz would be linked to both of these stories. The FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) has a long history of attempting to defame Gutierrez, and the current story about Gutierrez’s squarely legal relationship with a real estate developer should be understood as a part of this history.

The two stories about Gutierrez’s daughter, Omaira Figueroa, highlight her job with the state and her participation in a 26th Ward affordable housing program. Figueroa’s previous job experiences as a legislative aid and as an assistant sergeant-at-arms for the City Council justly earned her a position with Illinois Commerce Commission. In terms of the 26th Ward affordable housing program through which Figueroa purchased a condo in 2008, the income for her family of three allowed her to qualify alongside other participants in a program that former Alderman Billy Ocasio created to provide working families in the Humboldt Park area with the opportunity to purchase condos that they might not otherwise be able to afford. Rather than criticize a family that fairly participated in this program, we should celebrate the presence of a young professional family in a neighborhood that too often loses its longstanding residents. What these negative stories ignore is the remarkable number of affordable housing initiatives spearheaded by Billy Ocasio to keep longstanding residents in the Humboldt Park community. These include the La Estancia Apartments built by Bickerdike, the Teresa Roldán Apartments built by Hispanic Housing, the Single Mothers Housing created by LUCHA, as well as the creation of affordable townhouses for families. Each of these programs took shape under the leadership of former Alderman Billy Ocasio. No other alderman in Chicago has as strong a record of providing affordable housing initiatives.

Together, these reports should be viewed as part of a larger, longstanding effort to discredit Luis Gutierrez. Remember that in 1995 the Chicago Sun-Times, in conjunction with the FBI, destroyed one of the most successful Chicago school reform efforts in history at Roberto Clemente high school. Their false reports about Clemente in 1995 waged countless malicious attacks against many of the same figures targeted in the recent stories described above, namely Billy Ocasio and Luis Gutierrez. For more than fifteen years the FBI has conspired with the Chicago Sun-Times to vilify Gutierrez for his strong positions on controversial issues, such as Puerto Rico’s political status and immigration reform.

Gutierrez has lived outside of his district for more than two years, the FBI questioning primarily took place two years ago, his daughter entered her state job more than five years ago, and that same daughter purchased a condo through an affordable housing program nearly two years ago. None of this is current news, so why would these newspapers publish a barrage of negative stories about Gutierrez now? These stories are running just as Gutierrez has become an increasingly prominent critic of Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation and immigration reform advocate. The juxtaposition of Gutierrez’s outspoken advocacy for immigrants’ rights with the Tribune’s and Sun-Times’ slanderous, anachronistic stories about him, suggests that these media outlets are more interested in furthering a particular political agenda than disseminating important news to their readers. Instead expending so much energy in their attempts to undermine Gutierrez’s credibility, these newspapers should have worked to provide more coverage of the May 1 immigrants’ rights demonstration in which thousands of Chicagoans exercised their collective democratic voice to demand the reform of a failed, discriminatory policy.

by Jonathan Rosa


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To Study and to Struggle: A Massive Student Strike Paralyzes the University of Puerto Rico

Posted on 07 May 2010 by alejandro

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Some say that the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) was founded in 1903 in order to produce a local intelligentsia subservient to the demands of the United States, which only five years earlier ripped the island from Spain. In the 107 years since, the exact opposite has taken place.

In 1948, pro-independence students invited the president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, as a guest speaker, who recently had been released after serving ten years in a U.S. prison. The then-chancellor of the UPR’s Río Piedras campus, Jaime Benítez, refused to allow Albizu Campos to enter, prompting student protests. In response, a group of student leaders who held Puerto Rican flags, which was illegal during the time, were expelled.

In 1970, a massive student struggle emerged in the midst of the Vietnam War, calling for the removal of the ROTC from the Río Piedras campus. During the conflict, a policeman killed a young student, Antonia Martínez Lagares, who subsequently became a symbol of the Puerto Rican student movement.

On April 21, 2010 a new student movement commenced in response to the austerity measures proposed by the UPR President, José Ramón de la Torre, and the Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño, spawning an indefinite strike that is paralyzing the UPR system and brought international attention to the island.

Entering his second year in office, the right-wing and pro-statehood governor has proven to have little respect for Puerto Rico’s institutions. From firing nearly 20,000 government employees that provoked a massive one-day general strike to cutting the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture’s budget in half to getting rid of the membership requirement for lawyers to one of the island’s oldest institutions, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, Fortuño is reshaping the island, as many believe, in order to prepare it for statehood.

The UPR is no exception to Fortuño’s reign of terror. A new proposal, Certification 98, passed by the university’s Board of Trustees, eliminates fee exceptions for student athletes and university employees and their families. Furthermore, there is a proposed budget cut of up to $100 million. In response, a student-driven Negotiating Committee of 16 members were created and a list of demands were composed, which includes alternative measures to the massive budget cuts. These measures include the budget reduction of the burdensome Office of the President and a call for payment of multiple private and public entities that owe the university millions of dollars. The UPR president and the Río Piedras chancellor, Ana Guadalupe, refused to meet with the committee and washed their hands of the issue by transmitting their demands to the Board of Trustees, which are dragging their feet to review them.

Thus, on April 13 over 3,000 students from the Río Piedras campus assembled in an auditorium and the majority of those present voted in favor of a 48-hour strike. The UPR administration still refuses to meet with the students.

Now the UPR is experiencing an indefinite strike, which has expanded to include eight of the 11 campuses throughout the island.

Hundreds of students and staff even occupied, for a time, the Río Piedras campus until Riot Police, at the insistence of the Chancellor, forcefully removed them. Then she officially closed down the university’s operations, locked the main entrance, and ordered police to guard the campus. This prompted a student lawsuit and the Puerto Rican Supreme Court ordered the university to re-open its gates by May 3. Meanwhile, hundreds of students have congregated at the gates, holding theatrical performances, discussions, and even clean-ups and beautification projects of the surrounding area.

The response of support for the UPR strike has been major. The official Student Council of Río Piedras initially opposed the action but soon joined the Negotiating Committee. The Puerto Rican Association of University Professors and the Committee of Students of Private Universities have also joined the strike. Moreover, on April 27, a huge concert with thousands of students, called “¡Qué Vivan Los Estudiantes!” – “Long Live The Students!”, was held in front of the locked gates of the Río Piedras campus. Musical artists from the island and around the world, such as Calle 13, Ricky Martin, Rubén Blades, and Juanes, offered their support.

Nonetheless, the opposition has remained firm. Fortuño himself, a day before the concert, spoke directly to the strike in his yearly “State of the Commonwealth” address. In his incendiary speech, which received massive applause by the pro-statehood controlled Congress, he chastised the students for abusing their “privilege,” especially in the face of such a gracious government system. Reminiscent of a national speech by Mexican President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz when confronting massive student protests on the eve of the 1968 Olympics, Fortuño said that the people of Puerto Rico are of law and order and believe in democracy. At the conclusion of his address, he said “…we are here, ready and willing to offer the help… to protect the rights of all the students – both to the miniscule group that protest to the immense majority of those who want classes to continue.”

As mentioned earlier, there is a long trajectory of student struggle at the UPR, proving that one of the most important institutions in Puerto Rico is producing minds eager to reshape the challenge with a fair dialogue and open arms or continue a tradition that left the Plaza of Tlatelolco in México City stained with blood in the summer of ‘68.

by Xavier “Xavi” Luis Burgos

Photos by Alvin Cuoto



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Conversations of Liberation: Renowned Argentine Philosopher Enrique Dussel Visits Humboldt Park

Posted on 07 May 2010 by alejandro

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Enrique Dussel, described by my friend Cornel West as “one of the giants of emancipatory thought and liberation philosophy,” visited Paseo Boricua and met for a breakfast hosted by Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center José E. López, with several clergy and community leaders from the Humboldt Park area present. It was a fascinating time of conversation regarding topics such as immigration reform, a theology for the immigrant, the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States, Latin America, and everything else in between.

The energy of the conversation was a resilient interaction of sharing our own context of struggle and thoughts with the Argentinean Philosopher of Liberation.  I was greatly impressed at how this giant of a thinker listened intensely and responded to the questions and various analyses going back and forth in rapid fire.

In the course of the lively conversation, we paused to introduce Dussel to Ricardo Jiménez, a former Puerto Rican political prisoner. Among other notable acts, Jiménez volunteered at El Rancor, a drug rehabilitation center. He was a key player in the exposé of the plan known as Chicago 21, which aimed to turn a Puerto Rican community into a bastion of the high-income white-collar class. He assisted in the development of Loyola University’s first Puerto Rican history class, and was a member of the organization that ultimately founded Roberto Clemente High School.

As Enrique Dussel shook Jiménez’s hand he said, “I am shaking the hand of a saint.” As a bystander with some knowledge of the lives of both of these men, I found the moment to be especially tender and humbling.  Dussel knows firsthand what repression and struggle is all about. He should; It nearly killed him.

In 1971, Dussel’s home was bombed by a paramilitary group, forcing him to seek exile in México where he teaches in the department of philosophy at the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM). It was his powerful dedication to liberation philosophy that called down the wrath of the group that destroyed his home and attempted to take his life. The plight of the marginalized and the disadvantaged is Dussel’s focus. He believes that the liberation of the oppressed will not happen through a violent uprising such as those that occur under paramilitary groups. This, he says, will only replace one tyrannical ruling body with another, thus perpetuating the injustice. It is Dussel’s wish to not only liberate the downtrodden from the powers that hold them in place, but also to free the oppressors from their need to oppress.

Dussel himself, amazed with the thought provoking dialogue, shared how he impressed he was with the many symbols of cultural expression along Paseo Boricua.  Cheerfully he expressed his appreciation for our time together saying, “I’ve said things that I never have said before today.” In closing, Dussel expressed the importance of those struggling on the margins to know and celebrate their history.  He singled out how Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. provided a vision of the future in his, “I Have a Dream,” speech.  We in the Latino community must provide our people with a vision.

This comment was especially riveting to me.  As a pastor and theologian, I began to ponder and think about what citizenship in God’s kingdom looks like. Heaven has no borders. People there come to-and-fro in peace, regardless of the color of their skin or the language that they spoke in life or their religious views. How would it look on earth if the same principles ruled? If instead of drawing lines around our little bits of land and calling them sacred, we instead opened wide the borders and pulled down the walls and let the world mingle freely?

The official language of heaven is love, as every child who has ever entered a Sunday School classroom knows. The official language of Heaven on Earth should be love as well. No favoritism among the residents of the planet, no elevation of one group or race over another, no hatred on the basis of exterior differences, but rather a shared responsibility in enriching the lives of one another to our mutual benefit. Heaven on Earth is possible. And men like Enrique Dussel seek to make this vision not simply a pretty dream wrapped in a philosophical thought experiment, but rather a concrete reality presided over by a God who is joyfully and unashamedly blind to human differences.

by Rev. Dr. Pedro J. Windsor-García


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Former Governor of Puerto Rico Visits Paseo Boricua on Book Signing Tour

Posted on 07 May 2010 by alejandro

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Former governor of Puerto Rico Aníbal Acevedo Vilá made a special stop in Humboldt Park on April 15 to promote his recently released autobiographical novel, Así Fue…¿Y Ahora Qué? Reflexiones Sobre el Cuatrenio 2004-2008 y sus Repercusiones Para el Futuro (That’s How it Went…And Now What? Reflections on the Four-year Period 2004-2008 and the Repercussions for the Future).

Ex-governor Acevedo Vilá spoke briefly to an audience at El Quijote bookstore (2546 W. Division) before signing books and taking pictures with local community members. Acevedo Vilá referred to the book as a “photo” of his governorship, which included “difficult economic and personal challenges.”

According to Acevedo Vilá the book covers significant events that shaped his experience as governor, such as Puerto Rico’s economic recession, the division amongst Puerto Rican political parties, the Puerto Rican government shutdown due to lack of funds, and most notably, the corruption charges placed against him by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in March 2008.

Although he was eventually found innocent of all FBI charges, Acevedo Vilá  commented that this period was extremely difficult for him and his family. In his book the ex-governor speculates on reasons he believes he was targeted by the FBI. Included amongst these reasons is his public stance on condemning the FBI for the assassination of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, former leader of Ejército Popular Boricua or Los Macheteros.

Former political prisoner Ricardo Jiménez was also present at the book signing. Acevedo Vilá, who publicly supported the release of the Puerto Rican political prisoners, affirmed his commitment to their release at the event. “Regardless of what your political ideology is, the prisoners have been incarcerated more than enough time,” he said. “I told Ricardo that I would be willing to help in the campaign, including writing letters.

Before visiting Humboldt Park the ex-governor of Puerto Rico visited DePaul University and the East Chicago Public Library. During his presentation at El Quijote, audience members asked Acevedo Vilá if he was considering going back into electoral politics to which he responded, “No”, adding, “there are other ways to serve Puerto Rico that don’t include being in an electoral position.”

by Marisol Rodríguez


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Diabetes Empowerment Center opens its doors to the Humboldt Park Community

Posted on 07 May 2010 by alejandro

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On the corner of Division and California stands La Estancia, distinguishing itself from neighboring buildings with its beautiful, unique architecture. As of April 23 it is home to an institution that will soon become another symbol of Paseo Boricua: The Greater Humboldt Park Community Diabetes Empowerment Center.

Over 200 people attended the grand opening of the Diabetes Center to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in the “72 Block by Block” Diabetes Intervention Campaign, led by Project Director Jaime Delgado. This initiative is a partnership between the following organizations: Rush University Medical Center, Sinai Urban Health Institute, Norwegian American Hospital, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Greater Humboldt Park Community of Wellness and Pueblo Sin Fronteras.

The opening event was designed to inform the community of all the resources available in the Center, as well as presenting all the partners involved in the cause. “We will provide educational material and a space for support and physical activities for weight control,” said Delgado. A full-time dietician will also host cooking demonstrations for community residents to learn about the key role a healthy diet plays in fighting and preventing diabetes. Delgado also noted that the center will be open during regular business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and there will be several programs in the evening and on Saturdays.

The idea to create the Diabetes Center has its origins within the “72 Block by Block” Diabetes Intervention Campaign. “We wanted to do more to help the community,” said Delgado. “We decided we needed a community-driven freestanding Empowerment Center.”

The decision to house it at La Estancia was purposefully planned by Delgado and others involved. “We wanted a high-profile place and the corner of Division and California is a very active area between the two flags. The center will be seen and identified with the community,” Delgado said. The dedication and commitment to create the Diabetes Center and secure its great location at La Estancia is a testament to the work of all the partners involved and will serve an important role in educating the community in the campaign against diabetes.

by Magdaleno Castañeda


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Puerto Rican Filmmakers Preview Boxing Documentary at IPRAC

Posted on 07 May 2010 by alejandro

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On April 9 the Institute for Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (IPRAC) showcased the work of two Puerto Rican filmmakers, Richard Santiago and Jorge “Fish” Rodriguez.

Richard Santiago presented a brief excerpt of a documentary he is making with Rodríguez on Puerto Rico boxers. Before the film was shown, Santiago spoke about the commitment that young Puerto Rican boxers make to their training, “These boxers are like Tibeten monks,” said Santiago. “No drinking, no sex, etc. to prepare for fighting.”

Jorge “Fish” Rodríguez shared a myriad of projects he’s worked on past and present. He showed the music video he directed for Calle 13 for the song AtreveteTe-Te, which won a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video in 2006. Rodríguez worked intently to create a music video that challenged the types of images seen in mainstream hip-hop videos.  The video’s protagonists do not wear massive gold chains and pop bottles of champagne.  The video also calls into question the Americanization of Puerto Rican life by including images of Puerto Rican women wearing blond wigs walking in front of rows of houses painted the same color, reminiscent of Levittown.

Rodríguez did not formally study filmmaking; instead he studied sculpture and specialized in image and design in college.  He relied on on-line tutorials to learn film techniques. Rodríguez became involved in film after a trip he made to Argentina. He was at a bar in a poor neighborhood of Buenos Aires discussing politics and Latin American history with locals. Through that conversation he became aware of South America’s “Dirty War” during which thousands of students, intellectuals, and professionals were targeted by the Argentine government. It was then that he vowed to return to Argentina within a year to create a documentary on the Plaza de Mayo massacre.

During that trip to Argentina, Rodriguez’s consciousness about Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship with the United States was fomented. That consciousness- raising experience was artistically transformative. When referring to his art before his trip, Rodriguez’s said, “everything was superficial.”

Jorge “Fish” Rodríguez has also directed the music video for Pasarela by Puerto Rican rapper/singer Dalmata. Rodríguez plans to create a full-length feature film in the future and continues to create films in order “to provoke, to show reality, to talk about what’s happening.”

by Eric López


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Fíjate – There Is No Democracy in Puerto Rico: The Farce of the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009

Posted on 07 May 2010 by alejandro

On April 29, the United States House of Representatives approved the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009 or Bill 2499, leading the push for a nonbinding referendum on Puerto Rico’s status with the U.S. Nothing is new and certainly, nothing is certain.

In 1998, the Young Bill passed through that branch of the U.S. legislature by one vote and stalled in the Senate. In response to the inaction of the U.S. government, under the pro-statehood regime of then-Governor Pedro Rosselló, an island-wide and nonbinding referendum was held. The option, “None of the Above” won. Twelve years later, another pro-statehood regime, now under auspices of Governor Luis Fortuño and his right-hand man, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, who is the island’s only representative to the House, is pushing for another Congressional referendum. This time though, it passed the House by 273 votes, with 169 in opposition. Is this bill really providing democracy to Puerto Rico?

One problem: Puerto Rico has never, ever, in the entire 112-year history of the U.S. occupation of the island, has been allowed self-determination. Every organic act by the U.S. Congress has been without the full consultation of the Puerto Rico people.

The Foraker Act of 1900 removed the martial law inflicted on Puerto Ricans since 1898 and established a governor for the island – handpicked by the U.S. President, of course.

The Jones Act of 1917 imposed U.S. citizenship onto Puerto Ricans just in time to draft its men into World War I.

In the 1922, U.S Supreme Court case, Balzac v. Porto Rico (the U.S. changed “Puerto” to “Porto” to fit its linguistic needs after the 1898 invasion), the island legally was defined as “belong[ing] to, but…not a part of” the United States.” That legal standing of being an unincorporated territory has not changed, even with Public Law 600 signed by then-President Truman in 1951, allowing for the island to have a constitution. The only vote of that era was whether Boricuas wanted not to have a constitution or to have one. There was no option for a constitution as an independent or sovereign republic or any other status option for that matter.

By July 25, 1952 (the anniversary of the U.S. invasion) when Puerto Rico officially became the “Estado Libre Asociado” or “Freely Associated State,” and the Puerto Rican flag, which was illegal until then, became the official (and redesigned) symbol of this new “autonomous” territory, some believed that the island reached a new era. Though it was officially removed a year later from the list of colonial positions (at the request of the U.S government, not the Puerto Rican people) from the United Nation’s decolonization committee, the U.S. Congress still is the dominant force on the island. The Puerto Rican Constitution itself says that all Federal Laws supersede island laws. Thus, there is no “free association.” That is a bold face lie!

What is an even greater lie is the idea that Bill 2499 will provide democracy for Puerto Rico. The U.S. Congress has never granted a legally binding (meaning they are obligated to follow through) referendum for the Puerto Rican people to decide our future, despite having full constitutional authority on the island. Bill 2499 does not even provide a binding referendum for the island. It provides a two-step symbolic nonbinding vote. First, whether Puerto Ricans are content with the present status or not. If not, a second vote will be held with the options of Statehood, full Independence, Associated Republic (independence with some matters in the control of the U.S.), or, yet again, “Commonwealth.” To the lament of Fortuño, the “Commonwealth” option was tagged on last minute, which clearly contradicts the first vote, but is a clear message that the U.S. Congress is afraid that people will vote for statehood. Even the estadistas recognize that the U.S. is conducting a colonial enterprise on the island, benefiting through millions of dollars the Social Security benefits that Puerto Rican workers feed into the system, the billions of dollars spent on U.S. consumer products, and the multiple military installations.

Furthermore, what the pro-statehood movement is not telling the Boricua people is that the United States Congress, even if Puerto Ricans one day go insane and vote for statehood by an immense majority, does not have to grant it. It’s a nonbinding referendum! Moreover, even if the path to eventual statehood is made by the U.S. Congress, it could take nearly 100 years, as it did to states like Alaska and New México. Just like the 1922 Supreme Court case, Puerto Rico is like a T-shirt, to be taken off or buttoned up when convenient; it is just property that happens to have 4 million people. True democracy is allowing the Puerto Rican people to decide. Democracy is self-determination, not lies.

by Xavier “Xavi” Luis Burgos


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A Day In Support of Affordable Housing The ¡Humboldt Park NO SE VENDE! campaign collects 451 signatures for Bickerdike’s Zapata Apartments

Posted on 07 May 2010 by alejandro

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On April 24 the ¡Humboldt Park NO SE VENDE! Campaign, alongside the Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation (BRC) organizing department, mobilized nearly 70 community residents and activists to collect 451 supportive signatures for the not-for-profit housing corporation’s Zapata Apartments in Logan Square, located along the Armitage Avenue Corridor. The petition drive included a day of conversation about the project, a door-knocking workshop, and two and a half hours of door-to-door canvassing from North to Central Park Avenues and Armitage to Kimball Avenues.

The massive petition drive was organized around the theme of supporting affordable housing in our community. As one volunteer, Ramón Sánchez, 18, stated: “I do support affordable housing. There are some people, like minorities, who need it because of the [bad] economy.”

Although, the ¡Humboldt Park NO SE VENDE! Campaign focuses primarily in the Humboldt Park community through the organizing of residents to support the development of Paseo Boricua, the organization holds onto the idea that an attack on affordable housing anywhere is an attack on affordable housing everywhere. Nowhere is this truer than in the recent onslaught of misinformation surrounding Zapata Apartments promoted by self-interest groups and individuals such as the so-called “Armitage Neighbors Together” (ANT).

In 2003 community-led planning sessions by the Logan Square New Communities Program identified a shortage of affordable rental housing near under-enrolled elementary and middle-schools. BRC was asked by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association to be the developer of this much needed housing. As Executive Director of BRC Joy Aruguete eloquently stated, “All of our projects are at the behest of community residents.” For 42 years, the aforementioned housing organization has done just that, building about 1,000 rental units of affordable housing in communities such as West Town, Hermosa, Logan Square and in Humboldt Park, where it recently completed its massive three-building La Estancia project on Paseo Boricua.

Zapata Apartments has been in the process for nearly five years and just when it was gaining steam, ANT emerged with a long-awaited attack, even going as far as suing the city of Chicago for supporting the project. Throughout the years BRC has met with thousands of community residents in the area, even those who initially opposed the project. “We have no reason not to meet those who are anti-affordable housing,” said Aruguete. However, it is not dialogue that this opposition is seeking. Many of ANT’s members are real-estate developers angry at the prospect of a community developing on its own terms without the need for the ridiculous profits of condos that have displaced thousands of working Puerto Rican and Latina/o families from Logan Square and Humboldt Park.

In a lawsuit filed just moments after ANT officially applied for a non-profit status, the group claimed that the Zapata was an “unconstitutional re-zoning of certain property” and includes “invidious spot zoning,” or in other words, complete disregard of the surrounding nature of the community. In actuality, the project itself will fill lots that have been vacant for two decades with 1-3 bedroom apartments and even a play lot for community youth. Furthermore, the possible tax revenue generated from the project could reach up to $72,000 a year, when there was once none.

Also, the units will be priced 50 percent below of the median area income. In response, BRC addressed the major concerns specified in the lawsuit and is still continuing with the zoning process. The petition that they have put out also seeks to gain some Tax Increment Financing (TIF), a rare occurrence for affordable housing in Chicago, for a project in the 35th Ward.

by Xavier “Xavi” Luis Burgos


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Thousands Demand Immigration Reform at Chicago May Day Rally

Posted on 07 May 2010 by alejandro

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“¡Obama escucha; Estamos en la lucha!” (“Listen up Obama; We’re in the struggle!”) shouted the thousands of people who gathered in Daley Plaza to commemorate May Day 2010. Humboldt Park community leaders Emma Lozano and Beti Guevara were among those who addressed the public at the immigration reform rally, which was the ending point to a march that began in Union Park.

Politicians such as Jesse Jackson were also in attendance to demand a comprehensive and immediate immigration policy, which President Obama promised during his campaign and has yet to deliver.

Mario, a Mexican student who spent time in a detention center spoke to the hypocrisy of the U.S. government to imprison hard-working immigrants. “I was sent to a detention center not for committing a crime, but because I was brought here through natural currents of immigration.”

May Day comes at the heel of the recent passing of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which criminalizes all immigrants for failure to carry proof of citizenship and gives Arizona police the power to detain anyone who they suspect to be undocumented. Francisco Andino,16, who attends Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School expressed his disapproval of the bill while at the rally. “I think it’s a racist law and it sounds like it’s against the constitution.” Andino supports making all undocumented immigrants citizens. “This is about having freedom,” said Andino. “We are all in the same world, it doesn’t matter what side of the border you’re on.”

by Marisol Rodríguez


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PACHS Students and Community Members Step Up to Beautify Community

Posted on 07 May 2010 by alejandro

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Jaleen Starling


On the morning of Saturday April 17 students of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School (PACHS), university students, and community residents were engaged in community service activities in Humboldt Park and along Paseo Boricua.

PACHS students pulled out weeds and planted beautiful flowers into the fresh soil in the planters on Division Street. William Nieves, 19, a student at PACHS explained that it was an exhausting activity, but when asked how he felt doing volunteer work for his very own community, he quickly perked up and said “It feels good to help, especially when it benefits the community we live in.”

The high school students also planted flowers at the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Cultural (IPRAC).The process of planting the flowers kept the PACHS students and staff busy from 9 a.m. until 1pm “I learned something new – how to plant flowers,” said PACHS Senior Ashley Rodríguez, 17, while reflecting on her community service experience.

There was another large group of people picking up garbage in Humboldt Park. Jason Gaya, who will be graduating from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) this month was one of the university students helping out. Gaya was encouraged to participate through a Latino Studies class at UIC. “If everyone helps out, in the end you’ll have a cleaner park,” said Gaya, adding that the nice weather didn’t hurt.

Thanks to the hard work of the community volunteers, those who walk down Division St. or visit IPRAC will find pretty, colorful flowers for all to enjoy. Volunteers were rewarded for their hard work at the Humboldt Park Boat House with a variety of food choices and cool beverages to quench their thirst after having endured the hot rays of sun as they labored for the Humboldt Park community.

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