Archive | February, 2016

February 2016

Posted on 17 February 2016 by Kevin Garcia

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DO YOU KNOW ABOUT EL RESCATE BASIC CENTER YET?

Posted on 06 February 2016 by Kevin Garcia

by Ray Arroyo, Program Coordinator

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The Puerto Rican Cultural Center is proud to introduce one of its newest program initiatives: The El Rescate Basic Center Program. This new program represents an expansion of our existing El Rescate umbrella services aimed at homeless youth. The Basic Center focuses on serving Latino and African American LGBTQ youth who are 12 to 18 years of age and helps connect them with temporary shelter*, health insurance coverage, educational and vocational opportunities, job readiness, social and relational skills, mental health resources, and recreational programming. All of our services are confidential and youth oriented and focused. El Rescate Basic Center provides case management services and works with qualifying youth for housing and long-term support so they may thrive and succeed in their life paths. Our bilingual team is there to facilitate programs that will help youth explore their options, develop needed self-care skills and activate their potential and creativity through the freedom of expression and within an accepting, understanding, and supportive environment. El Rescate Basic Center proudly operates out of the historical Humboldt Park community reaching out to youth throughout the Chicagoland area. If you or anyone you know is in need of our services, or to learn more about us please call (872) 829-2654.

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Can Bread And Puppet’s Play Get Obama To Pardon A Jailed Puerto Rican Activist?

Posted on 06 February 2016 by Kevin Garcia

by Greg Cook, 90.9WBUR

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When Vermont’s Bread and Puppet Theater brought its show “The Seditious Conspiracy Theater Presents: A Monument to the Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera” to New York’s Theater for the New City last December, a woman arrived at the opening night with a letter from López Rivera himself and read it aloud to the crowd before the show. “I would like to thank the members of the Bread and Puppet Theater for its solidarity with the campaign for my excarceration,” Lopez Rivera wrote. “I’m extremely grateful for the support you’re giving me and for all the support you have given to just and noble causes. … Puerto Ricans, who have struggled for the independence and sovereignty of our beloved homeland, have a good appreciation of how important compassion and solidarity are to keep the spirits strong and hopes alive especially when we have had to face oppression, criminalization and imprisonment. I believe no one should accept colonialism no matter where it exists or who practices it, because it’s a crime against humanity.” “We weren’t anticipating it,” puppeteer Joe Therrien says. “That was incredible. We were all just backstage. … It felt really personal to me.” Bread and Puppet Theater, which was founded by Peter Schumann in New York in 1963, is known for its tradition of distributing fresh baked bread free to audiences at the end of performances; its monumental, mythic papier-mâché puppets; and its participation in street protests against the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, American torture. The company was also one of the landmark New York experimental theaters of the 1960s—and continues to elaborate its signature blend of vanguard performance, expressionist dance and folk pageantry. “Peter has said the point [of this show] is to bring enough attention to it that [President] Obama will pardon him before he gets out of office,” Therrien says. “We didn’t expect to hear from him [López Rivera].” Bread and Puppet has long critiqued the problems of the world. But often the issues can seem big and abstract, impenetrable or far away. So the shows become as much about inspiring people not to give up hope as they are about protest. But the Oscar Lopez Rivera show has more specific, concrete, immediate aims. Could this play—which the company will perform at Massachusetts College of Art and Design’s Tower Auditorium in Boston at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Feb. 17 to 20, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21—actually help win a presidential pardon for Lopez Rivera? “Because of the urgency to get these things to the staff of Obama, because he can grant clemency, we wanted to push the issue as well as can be done,” Schumann says. Then he quips, “And because presidents usually do exactly what puppeteers tell them to, we have a chance here.” More seriously, he adds, “If the public gets excited about an issue that makes a huge difference.” Bread and Puppet Theater performs “The Seditious Conspiracy Theater Presents: A Monument to the Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera” in Glover, Vermont, in August 2015. (Greg Cook/WBUR) Bread and Puppet Theater performs “The Seditious Conspiracy Theater Presents: A Monument to the Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera” in Glover, Vermont, in August 2015. (Greg Cook/WBUR) Oscar López Rivera is a Vietnam veteran who became a housing activist and a founder of a Latino cultural center in Chicago. But he was also part of the Puerto Rican independence group FALN, a Spanish acronym for Armed Forces of National Liberation, which claimed credit for bombings in the 1970s and ‘80s, mainly in New York, Chicago, Washington and Puerto Rico. Primarily the group seems to have attacked unpopulated buildings, but some of their blasts allegedly killed a handful of people and injured dozens. Lopez Rivera was convicted in 1981 not of any specific bombings, but for seditious conspiracy—plotting to overthrow the United States government in Puerto Rico—as well as armed robbery and other charges. Sentenced to more than five decades in prison, his sentence was extended in the late ’80s for plotting an escape. President Bill Clinton offered to reduce his sentence in 1999, but Lopez Rivera turned it down, reportedly because not all the group’s imprisoned members were offered clemency. Opponents of his release allege that he turned down the offer because he would have been required to renounce violence. Of the more than a dozen members of the group convicted in the early 1980s, he’s the last still in prison. Bread and Puppet’s show arrives as part of a growing movement calling for his release. “He went to prison not for what he did, but for what he preached,” Schumann says. “That is a clear cut case of political imprisonment.” Bread and Puppet’s relationship with the Puerto Rican community goes back to nearly the theater’s beginnings in New York. “One of the first big parades with very large puppets was a Puerto Rican Day parade and it was for voter registration,” Schumann says. One of the theater’s landmark early shows, “A Man Says Goodbye to his Mother” from 1965 or ’66, was inspired by the damage of the Vietnam War to New York’s Puerto Rican community. Schumann says, “There was a group of Puerto Rican mothers who had made something like a club because they had all received the same letter, which began, ‘We regret to inform you…’ Which meant their sons had been killed in Vietnam.” In that show, a soldier goes abroad to bomb his enemy, ultimately killing a child, then is killed himself by the child’s mother in revenge. His body gets sent back home to his own mother. It feels like one of those Greek tragedies in which killing is an inevitable, unbreakable cycle. Last winter, Schumann was encouraged to create a show about Lopez Rivera by Rosa Luisa Márquez, a theater professor at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan, who for three decades has been a conduit for Puerto Ricans to perform with the company. “It was only logical that, knowing Bread and Puppet’s commitment to social justice and freedom, evident in many shows about individual and collective injustice,” Márquez tells me via email, “they should take into account the life of Oscar Lopez Rivera and his quest for the freedom for Puerto Rico and our collective struggle to help ex-carcelate him from such an extraordinary sentence for imagining a better world, for ‘conspiring seditiously’ against a colonial power such as the U.S.A. and its total control over Puerto Rico.” “It’s a big issue in Puerto Rico,” Schumann says. “The right and the left are all pleading with Obama to set this man free.” Bread and Puppet Theater performs “The Seditious Conspiracy Theater Presents: A Monument to the Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera” in Glover, Vermont, in August 2015. (Greg Cook/WBUR) Bread and Puppet Theater performs “The Seditious Conspiracy Theater Presents: A Monument to the Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera” in Glover, Vermont, in August 2015. (Greg Cook/WBUR) Rehearsals for “The Seditious Conspiracy Theater Presents: A Monument to the Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera” began a year ago with a few performers at the company’s home on a farm in Glover, Vermont. It started as a small clown show, but the production— and cast—grew during the theater’s summer internship program into something monumental and dark. In Boston, it will be performed by a small core group of traveling puppeteers augmented by local volunteers. The play is an indictment of American imperialism— in Puerto Rico as well as in its wars abroad. As Schumann puts it: “This total fake democracy here that pretends to spread peace and harmony by spreading as much war as possible.” The show includes a version of “Man Says Goodbye…” as well as modern dance, giant puppets, poetic and didactic monologues, cruel clowns, mournful ruminations on war, and stark confrontations with the realities of prison. It is not a linear drama, but a series of actions and vignettes. There are striking symbolic images, for example in a prison scene performers sit under a single, bare light blub facing a gray painting of a cell. One by one, they run headlong into the picture and crumple to the ground. “He was in solitary confinement for 12 years,” Schumann says, “which is deemed by most people to be a form of torture.” “Peter responded to the life of Puerto Rico’s Mandela, who’s been in jail for 35 years as he has responded to other important social and political issues that are the essence of his work,” Márquez writes. “The U.S. audience is left with the strong visual image of a man unjustly imprisoned and tortured by the country that prides itself of being the overseer of justice and peace in the world. If theater can make people aware of that, and if by chance, President Obama, the only person that can overturn his sentence, can be made aware of his pardon, then theater has accomplished a concrete goal. In the meantime, more people are made aware of this injustice through the profound power of art.”

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E ola, e ola, e ola n? kini e!* Kekuni Blaisdell

Posted on 06 February 2016 by Kevin Garcia

by L. Alejandro Molina,

National Boricua Human Rights Network The National Boricua Human Rights Network and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center extend their deepest condolences on the passing of Dr. Richard “Kekuni” Blaisdell, exemplary educator, historian and visionary activist in the struggle for Hawaiian Independence. I was privileged to coordinate Ka Ho’okolokolonui K?naka Maoli – Peoples’ International Tribunal Hawai’i 1993 of which Dr. Richard “Kekuni” Blaisdell was the convenor. He later visited Chicago with a contingent of Kanaka Maoli (indigenous Hawaians), which were the Honorary Marshals in the 1994 Screenshot 2016-06-08 10.41.36 Peoples Parade. Over the course of twelve days in August 1993, the United States and the state of Hawai’i were put on trial for crimes against the original people of Hawai’i, the K?naka Maoli, by the People’s International Tribunal Hawai’i. This panel of international judges was convened to hear charges of genocide, ethnocide, the taking of the Hawaiian sovereign government and the destruction of its environment. Kekuni was deeply committed to the struggle of the Puerto Rican people for independence and in support of freedom for Puerto Rican political prisoners. Kekuni was an unforgettable man who strove to meet his historical responsibility at an extraordinary moment in the struggle for Hawaiian independence- the centennial commemoration of the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani and the Hawaiian Monarchy in 1993. We first met at the 1992 International TriScreenshot 2016-06-08 10.41.43bunal of Indigenous Peoples and Oppressed Nations in San Francisco entitled “USA on Trial”, as part of the resistance against the quincentennial celebrations of the Columbian Expedition. During the Tribunal, the representatives of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement testified before a panel of international jurists on their struggles- culturally, environmentally and and politically. The Tribunal also heard from other freedom struggles in the US, in particular the Puerto Rican. We developed a long and fruitful relationship based on solidarity, helping the Hawaiian contingent at the 1993 UN Human Rights Conference in Vienna, Austria, and then helping to coordinate the Peoples International Tribunal. Along the way, we began to discuss the possibility of uniting representatives of the island/nations invaded by the US in 1898. Several meetings of the “1998 Working Group” took place in Chicago and Hawaii, and a possible book was planned, but events, capacity and priorities changed and so did our collective plans. *All Hawai’i Stand Together

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¿Por qué no liberan a Oscar López Rivera?

Posted on 06 February 2016 by Kevin Garcia

por Gloria Ruiz Kuilan,

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El Nuevo Día La pregunta resurge de cada cierto tiempo, sobre todo, tras el indulto a Jeremy Ruiz. La lucha por la excarcelación del preso político, Oscar López Rivera, lleva más de una década y pese a los múltiples reclamos -nacionales e internacionales- en pos de su liberación su salida de la cárcel estadounidense en la que se encuentra no se ha producido. Un indulto del presidente Barack Obama permitiría la excarcelación de López Rivera. Luego de que el lunes el gobernador Alejandro García Padilla le concediera un indulto al joven Jeremy Ruiz Tomassini, la pregunta vuelve a surgir: ¿Por qué Oscar López no ha sido liberado? “Se trata de un caso complejo. Es un caso que tiene repercusiones internacionales y están involucradas las relaciones entre Puerto Rico y Estados Unidos. El presidente escoge el momento más preciso para él, su país y su partido. El caso de Oscar es un caso complejo”, dijo el portavoz del Comité Pro Derechos Humanos de Puerto Rico, Eduardo “Tuto” Villanueva. “Seguimos sumando esfuerzos. Haciendo gestiones con diversos países, amigos. (Pero) Obama es el que sabe cuándo es el momento (para liberar a López Rivera) porque tiene el poder del indulto”, agregó. Indicó que hay personas que piensan que la liberación del preso político, que ya tiene 72 años, recae meramente en el apoyo masivo que reciba una petición de esa naturaleza. “Y no es así. No miran que él (Obama) actúa cuando sea conveniente”, indicó Villanueva, quien fuera presidente del Colegio de Abogados. “Cuba lleva años consiguiendo en Naciones Unidas que se vote contra el bloqueo 189 a 3 y sigue Obama con el bloqueo. Solo ha reestablecido las relaciones diplomáticas. De eso se trata”, afirmó el abogado, El embargo comercial impuesto a Cuba comenzó en 1962, Villanueva reconoció que la no excarcelación de López Rivera genera algún tipo de desánimo entre quienes impulsan su excarcelación. Incluso, reconoció que hay quienes piensan que la excarcelación no se ha producido porque no se ha hecho lo suficiente. “Me duele mucho que se piense eso”, dijo. Desde 2011, López Rivera sometió su petición de clemencia a Obama, después de que la Comisión de Libertad Bajo Palabra le denegara la posibilidad de ser excarcelado a corto plazo. Bajo los procesos rutinarios, la liberación de López Rivera no ocurriría hasta junio de 2023, cuando tendría 80 años. López Rivera lleva 34 años en una cárcel federal, más que ningún otro prisionero político en la historia de Puerto Rico. Durante su encierro, López Rivera ha estado 12 años en aislamiento total. Fue sentenciado a 70 años de cárcel por cargos de conspiración sediciosa debido a sus vínculos con las Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional, grupo clandestino de lucha por la independencia de la Isla. Por años, organizaciones comunitarias como el Comité Pro Derechos Humanos de Puerto Rico y figuras públicas han clamado por la libertad de López Rivera. “Si no fuera porque Oscar tiene una conciencia clara de los ideales que representa, a él mismo se le haría extremadamente difícil (estar en prisión). Lo alienta saber que tiene el apoyo de su pueblo y saber que está luchando por un ideal justo”, puntualizó Villanueva.

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Ex-senadora se quita la ropa por una causa meritoria

Posted on 06 February 2016 by Kevin Garcia

Por Primerahora.com

La exsenadora Velda González se quitó la ropa como parte de una manifestación a favor de la excarcelación del prisionero político Oscar López Rivera, según la red social de la también actriz Camille Carrión. La también actriz de 82 años hizo el gesto durante la última presentación de la obra “Las chicas del calendario” en el Centro de Bellas Artes, indicó Carrión en las Screenshot 2016-06-08 10.39.06redes, quien es una de las actrices que también participó de la adaptación teatral del filme del m i s m o nombre “Muchos se preguntaban si Velda iba a “pelar pa’ bajo” en “Las chicas del calendario”. Por fin lo hizo en la última función y, como siempre, por una buena causa. BRAVO VELDA!!!!!”, expresó Carrión. En 14 horas la imagen recibió más de 1,000 likes y sobre un centenar de comentarios. Otra foto compartida por Carrión muestra a González en poca ropa sobre el escenario de Bellas Artes también con el mensaje. González destacó en cine, teatro, y televisión antes de llegar al Senado por el Partido Popular Democrático y llegó a ocupar la vicepresidencia del cuerpo. Fue la principal gestora desde la legislatura de la Ley 54 contra la violencia doméstica. López Rivera, de 73 años, lleva 34 años ingresado en las cárceles de Estados Unidos y cumple una condena de 70 años tras ser convicto inicialmente de sedición. El reclamo por la excarcelación de López Rivera ha unido a líderes de todos los partidos políticos del país y numerosos esfuerzos para llamar la atención del presidente Barack Obama.

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“…Y HOY AÑADO QUE UNA DE ESAS VIDAS ES LA DEL PUERTORRIQUEÑO OSCAR LÓPEZ RIVERA, QUIEN HA UNIDO A ESTE PUEBLO EN UN RECLAMO SOLIDARIO DE HUMANIDAD” SUPREMO RECLAMO POR LA EXCARCELACIÓN DE OSCAR LÓPEZ

Posted on 06 February 2016 by Kevin Garcia

por Agustín Criollo Oquero

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Como parte de su mensaje de despedida a la presidenta del Tribunal Supremo de Puerto Rico, la jueza Liana Fiol Matta, luego de que esta anunciara su retiro, el juez asociado Luis F. Estrella Martínez no perdió tiempo en llevar un reclamo para la excarcelación del prisionero político Oscar López Rivera, quien extingue una sentencia de 70 años por conspiración contra el gobierno de los Estados Unidos. Estrella Martínez fue contundente en su reclamo, que levantó el interés de los presentes, entre ellos el gobernador de Puerto Rico, Alejandro García Padilla y el secretario de Justicia, César Miranda. “Aprovecho la última sesión de la Corte Fiol Matta para compartir con ustedes que recientemente he abordado en un artículo de revista el tema del restablecimiento de las relaciones diplomáticas entre los Estados Unidos y Cuba, y cómo el reclamo del respeto a los derechos humano tiene que fluir en ambas vías”, comenzó a exponer el Juez Asociado. “En lo pertinente a la exhortación formulada en la pasada juramentación de la compañera, planteé en ese artículo que las exigencias del Derecho Internacional requieren que los Estados Unidos realice una seria introspección de sus acciones y omisiones en el ámbito de los derechos humanos. En consecuencia, considero que el reclamo dirigido a Cuba no puede ser unilateral y visualizarse como una problemática aislada… los derechos humanos son necesarios en Cuba pero también debieron reconocerse hace mucho tiempo en la base de Guantánamo y en el propio sistema correccional federal, cuyas consecuencias también tocan de cerca vidas puertorriqueñas y seres humanos de otras nacionalidades”, continuó el juez. Entonces, Estrella Martínez esbozó un reclamo directo por la liberación del preso político con más antigüedad en las cárceles estadounidenses. “…y hoy añado que una de esas vidas es la del puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera, quien ha unido a este pueblo en un reclamo solidario de humanidad”, concluyó para darle paso a un estruendo de aplausos que inundó la Sala de Sesiones del edificio del Tribunal Supremo en Puerta de Tierra. Este articulo originalmente aparecio en noticel.com

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Fundraiser for the NBHRN Happy Birthday Jessie Fuentes!

Posted on 06 February 2016 by Kevin Garcia

by Janeida Rivera,

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National Boricua Human Rights Network On February 6th, Jessie Fuentes celebrated her 26th Birthday and hosted a party to raise money for the campaign to free Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera. Jessie Fuentes has been an active member of the Campaign for over 5 years and will continue struggling for his freedom until he is out. On February 6th many of Jessie’s friends and family members donated $10 dollars and signed a petition to free Oscar not because they have the same political beliefs as Oscar rather they care for Jessie and believe it is a just cause. Working the campaign should be fun, it should be a space in which we engage our families, friends, and colleagues in a discussion that matters to us and Jessie took the perfect moment to do so. Please donate to National Boricua Human Rights Network and help free a hero to all, a friend to many, a family member to several, and a father to one!

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Towards the Creation of a National Puerto Rican Agenda Philadelphia, July 24 & 25, 2016

Posted on 02 February 2016 by Kevin Garcia

Puerto Rico is facing a serious fiscal and humanitarian crisis. The Puerto Rican Diaspora must act by holding the US government responsible for addressing this unprecedented catastrophe. The 8.5 million Puerto Ricans who are US citizens must call for immediate Presidential and congressional action. The Puerto Rican National Agenda will meet in Philadelphia to discuss the following: 1. The $72 billion debt the Puerto Rican government faces which it cannot pay; 2. Coordinate efforts to address the fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico and hold the US government responsible; 3. Intensify the offensive to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera; 4. Promote and unify efforts for a Puerto Rican centered, voter registration and education campaign; 5. Discussion on coordination of inside/outside efforts at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia during July 25-28. Congress should undertake the the following actions: First, Congress must provide Puerto Rico with an orderly restructuring regime to comprehensively address its financial liabilities by restructuring its debts. Second, Congress needs to reform the Commonwealth’s Medicaid program and ensure that the program provides better access to healthcare services. Third, Congress should provide Puerto Rico with access to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a proven tool that has bipartisan support for rewarding work and supporting growth. If Congress and the President do not act soon this fiscal and unfolding humanitarian crisis will become unmanageable. These proposed actions are not the final solution; that will take the sustained and concerted effort of different stakeholders, but they can help mitigate this terrible crisis while other initiatives unfold. Puerto Ricans have fought in every American war since World War I even though they do not vote for their commander in chief. The 5.1 million Puerto Ricans who live in the 50 states contribute to the life of the country every day, are actively engaged in support of Puerto Rico and will vote come Election Day. Additionally, across the entire of Puerto Rican political thought, there is unanimity around the demand for Pres. Obama to free Oscar López Rivera whose nearly 35 years of imprisonment makes him the longest held politcial prisoner in the history of US Latin America relationship. Against the above backdrop, in the next few months, mobilizing activities will take place in major centers of Puerto Rican concentration: Chicago, New York, Newark, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Orlando as well as in many other locations. The purpose of these activities is to work on the development of the articulation of a draft agenda that will be adopted at a national summit of the Puerto Rican Disapora to be held in Philadelphia to coincide with the Democratic National Convention.

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Johnny Tirado Remembered: “We Got This!”

Posted on 02 February 2016 by Kevin Garcia

by Jessie Fuentes,

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National Boricua Human Rights Network As we all know Johnny was an artist, a good cook, and quite comedic, but he was also an activist, educator, partner and father figure to many. Johnny always challenged the people around the Puerto Rican Cultural Center to be better, to reflect and to not forget the greater mission at hand. If you know anything about the PRCC you know we love to get people right into the work – Johnny genuinely cared about the development of new activist and the development of our pedacito de patria. Who remembers how stressed out we would be during a Pancake/Waffle events? Johnny would wave his spatula and say “We got this.” How can we forget Johnny’s fluffy pancakes; outside of wanting Oscar to be free it is why people showed up. I remember being in meetings with Johnny and learning the entire Nuestro Tambo album because he just left rehearsal. His humming, tapping, singing and love for life always made people around him appreciate the work we were doing. His creativity as Michelle would describe, came out of nowhere. He was a perfectionist, he believed that everything we put out had to be our best work and rightfully so. Johnny didn’t just do political work because he believed in the cause rather he believed that a collective group of people can produce REAL change when strategic, careful and thoughtful. Johnny could convince you that you were capable of doing anything because for him all that mattered is what you wanted to do; if you liked it he loved it. Right before Carlos Alberto’s release I remember clearly the feeling of not knowing if we had won the battle, but again Johnny would ensure you that “we got this.” Johnny your presence, activism and support taught us many things – how to appreciate the small victories, how to be patient, how to love our comrades, and how to work hard even when it feels like we have nothing else to give. Your departure teaches us another lesson – that the work we do matters because it is from this work we have built a family, meaningful relationships and a collective passion to work towards a more just world. On behalf of NBHRN, good bye for now companero!

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