Archive | November, 2016

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STRAIGHT TALK: Black/ Brown Building on a Broken America

Posted on 22 November 2016 by alejandro

DuSable Museum and National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture Feature Joint Event: “STRAIGHT TALK”

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Headlines to headlines, we read about the many challenges, especially our young people in Chicago are faced with in this era of uncertainty. For us, it’s unacceptable. That is why, in an unprecedented move, the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture and the DuSable Museum have partnered in a timely, yet provocative discussion: STRAIGHT TALK: Black/ Brown Building on a Broken America. Featuring the renown lecturer, writer and civil rights activist, Felipe Luciano, who addressed students and discussed issues they face around Black and Brown Unity.

Billy Ocasio, CEO of the NMPRAC said, “I am proud to partner with the DuSable Museum in an educational lecture on how we must all be treated with dignity and respect. Society has looked at us as different, and while our traditions, culture, language, hair and skin color may look different, inside we are the same; we are part of the human race. I believe things can improve in our society if we learn how to value, appreciate and celebrate our differences as well as shared experiences.”

Students were selected from various high schools to be a part of something new, creative and timely in Chicago. This session took place, on October 21, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. at the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture. Students heard first-hand the struggles they face from a person who also faced those same challenges as an Afro-Latino teen and survived to share his message and to answer questions.

It is our hope that in these tough times in Chicago, our students will be able to connect, think and dream of their future. Luciano focused on adolescent challenges as well as the young students need for cultural coalition. “Young people need inspiration and guidance, not hatred and condemnation”, said Felipe Luciano.

In addition to this student event, a lecture at the DuSable Museum took place with over 300 Latino and African Americans in the audience who listened, laughed and clapped to a profound lecture from Felipe Luciano.

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Queer Rican Event at NMPRAC

Posted on 22 November 2016 by alejandro

A Critical Community Praxis on Meaning and Identity

Queer Rican Event at NMPRAC

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On Saturday, October 22, Lawrence La Fountain, Puerto Rican author, performer, and academic Lawrence La Fountain spoke at the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, to an audience of over 75, about his book, “Queer Ricans.”

Lawrence spoke to his identification as a young gay man in Puerto Rico, overcoming obstacles and fear, and along the way becoming grounded in his identity. He touched on many different issues, among them the Puerto Rican fiscal crisis, the Puerto Rican Diaspora, LatinX identity and freedom for Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera. Emmanuel Garcia, activist and journalist, led the Q and A session, fielding questions from the audience and where possible, connecting them to the larger issues discussed.

Emmanuel also led a Panel discussion with Humboldt Park neighborhood teens on LatinX life. Suzy Schultz of Public Narrative, also led an Audience Storytelling workshop that integrated audience personal stories into the broader themes touched by La Fountain.

The event was part of “Home is Where the Art Is” — a collaborative effort of the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, the Great Books Foundation, the Chicago Cultural Alliance, and Public Narrative, supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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OSCAR LOPEZ RIVERA IN OBAMA’s HOUSE!

Posted on 22 November 2016 by alejandro

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October 9 in Washington, DC. in front of the White House-a freedom clamor from a multitude for Oscar Lopez Rivera’s unconditional release -made an infinite mark in history. It is an event where “Oscar estuvo en la casa de Obama.” If we were to measure the energy level of the people that attended the event, it was over 2,000 volts. Everyone’s faces were radiant.

There were many speakers from all walks of life and representing all political ideologies, a norm for Oscar who has become the moral power to unify forces. The event was organized by a coalition in Puerto Rico, and the mobilization came from the diaspora. There were ecumenical figures that did the convocation. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, NY State representative Adriano Espalliat, Speaker of NYC Council Melissa Mark Viverito, candidate for governor in Puerto Rico, Maria de Lourdes Santiago, San Juan Mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz spoke.

Cornel West sent a recorded message, Rene Perez (El Residente de Calle 13) spoke and the cultural performances by: Danny Rivera, Roy Brown and Tito Auger and others interpreted Juan Antonio Corretjer’s songs. Danny Rivera resonated with the public when he sang “Tu Pueblo es mi pueblo.”

A high point of the rally was Oscar’s family coming onto the stage. Mercedes (Oscar’s oldest sister) and Zenaida (sister), Babbi (niece), Lourdes (niece) and Clarisa (Oscar’s only daughter), could not wipe the grins of their faces as they watched thousands rally in solidarity to Lafayette Park, in front of the White House were the rally took place.

New York City mobilized 11 buses and a caravan of cars from different parts of the city with the help of Melissa Mark Viverito, who urged union workers from construction, maintenance, hotel, education and health trades. We are forever indebted to her leadership and their solidarity. We made our entry by marching through the street of DC through the White House into Lafayette Park with 40 body size images of Oscar chanting “Pres. Obama listen to me, we want OSCAR LOPEZ FREE!”

We were also in the presence of former Puerto Rican political prisoners like Luis Rosa, Ricardo Jimenez, Edwin Cortes (given presidential clemency by Pres. Bill Clinton) and Felix Rosa, all that have been relentless in the campaign to Free Oscar.

People from all walks of life came from more than 30 cities from north to south of the east coast to the midwest and California. Not to mention all those who came from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

A special humanitarian moment was when the whole Lopez Rivera family was on stage, Oscar’s youngest brother, Jose E. Lopez spoke so eloquently about the family’s desire for 35 years to bring him home. He related anecdotes of the trials and tribulations and Oscar’s enduring strength that transcended the prison bars to the family. During this moment that Jose spoke, the thousands in the park quieted down to hear the love and pain of the family, which made not only Oscar’s family cry on stage, but also many in the audience. Oscar, we captured the many tears of the audience that were touched by the your family. At that moment, we all put ourselves in Oscar’s family’s shoes and felt the pain, but also the strength. Empathy is so humbling.

Clarisa commented that she felt overwhelmed and happy to see so many people that traveled across US from different state lines to support her father’s release. If all who attended got on board to work the campaign in the next 105 days (the number of days Obama has left in office), we can become a force to be reckoned and secure Oscar’s release.

We called it a “mission accomplished” in the crunch time of only 5 weeks. Imagine if we had a year to plan it. We were decolonized in this process especially when we felt the unity that Oscar promotes and freedom clamor he represents. We waited to hear from Oscar on this important day, as we are sure he felt all that energy and love. Again, we will record in our collective memory, the day Oscar was in Pres. Obama’s house. We reiterate, “Pres. Obama with a stroke of your pen, FREE Oscar, NOW!”

By Ana M. Lopez, NYC Coordinator to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera

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British Newspaper Guardian Highlights the Case of Puerto Rican Patriot Oscar Lopez Rivera

Posted on 22 November 2016 by alejandro

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The well-respected English newspaper e Guardian published a poignant and powerful call to President Obama to grant clemency to imprisoned patriot Oscar Lopez Rivera on October 16, 2016. The U.S. version of  paper described in a detailed and lengthy article the breadth of the support to free Oscar Lopez, his birth and early life in Puerto Rico and his move to the U.S. The article then moved on to discuss Oscar Lopez’s transformation from a fun-loving person to the person he is today.Th e transformation was initially due to his military service in Vietnam, where he saw the destruction reaped by the unjustified U.S. war on the people of Vietnam. The transformation process continued due to his involvement in the movement to free the Puerto Rican Nationalist prisoners, which later resulted in his participation in the armed clandestine movement to free Puerto Rico.

Oscar Lopez explained that, as a colonial subject, he had the right to engage in armed struggle to free his nation. Oscar emphasized that any actions of the armed movement were of an “armed propaganda” nature, mean- ing that the goal was to focus on companies that exploit Puerto Rico but not to kill people. However, as the author noted, Oscar Lopez renounced violence more than twenty years ago and now considers that there are other more appropriate methods of struggle to win sovereignty for Puerto Rico.

Oscar Lopez has not wasted a day while he has been in prison. He is an avid reader, consuming books and articles. He helps other prisoners learn Spanish and teaches them to read and write. He is an accomplished painter. He taught himself to paint in prison when he realized his isolation in solitary confinement, for all but two hours a week, surrounded by yellow-gray walls was actually affecting his ability to distinguish colors. He maintains, not only his mental health, but also his physical health by an extensive regime of exercise.

As the article makes clear, it is way past the time to bring him home. It can happen if President Obama takes the fair, just and correct action and grants him clemency.

By Melinda Power

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Juntos por el voto boricua y la liberacion de Oscar Lopez: Gutierrez, Soto y Suarez

Posted on 21 November 2016 by alejandro

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En Orlando, FL

El congresista Luis Gutierrez y el candidato al Congreso por el 9no distrito de Florida Darren Soto hicieron un reclamo conjunto a favor de la movilizacion electoral de los boricuas y la excarcelacio?n del prisionero politico Oscar Lopez Rivera.

Los democratas boricuas Gutierrez y Soto encabezaron un grupo de funcionarios electos y li?deres comunitarios en Orlando, como parte de una convocatoria de la Agenda Nacional Puertorriquena (NPRA, por sus siglas en ingles).

Un juez extendio hasta el martes proximo – 18 de octubre-, la fecha ultima para los electores en EE.UU. inscribirse y poder votar el 8 de noviembre en las elecciones presidenciales y legislativas de EE.UU.

En los proximos comicios, los electores boricuas del estado, que son aproximadamente 500,000, podria decidir el ganador de la contienda presidencial en Florida, que puede decidir quien sera el proximo inquilino o inquilina de la Casa Blanca.

Convicto principalmente de sedicion, por sus vinculos con las Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (FALN), Lopez Rivera, de 73 anos, ha cumplido 35 anos y cuatro meses en prisiones estadounidenses.

“Oscar Lopez Rivera no debe permanecer en la carcel ni un dia mas. Mientras su salud empeora entre las cuatro paredes de una celda, es otro dia de Accion de Gracias, otra Navidad mas que su familia se sienta sin su presencia en la mesa. El precio que ha pagado ya ha sido demasiado alto. Por eso es importante que los boricuas hagan sentir su voz y que hagan contar con su voto en las urnas,” indico el congresista Gutierrez.

El domingo, Gutierrez fue tambien uno de los oradores de una manifestacion frente a la Casa Blanca que conto ademas con la participacion de la hija de Lopez Rivera, Clarisa.

“Vamos a pedir desde la ciudad de Orlando, donde viven miles de boricuas, que trabajan y votan, que se cumpla el pedido de todos los vivimos en la isla y fuera de ella: ya es tiempo que Oscar regrese a casa. Esperamos que Obama escuche el reclamo de los puertorriquenos de la diaspora y le conceda la libertad a Oscar antes que cumpla su termino presidencial,” senalo, por su parte, Darren Soto, actual senador estatal y favorito para ser elegido en noviembre por el distrito 9 de Florida y convertirse en el primer congresista de origen boricua elegido por su estado.

Por su parte, el abogado republicano Anthony Suarez, primer legislador estatal electo de origen puertorriqueno en el estado y presidente de la Puerto Rican Bar Association de Florida, recordo que desde 1999 reclamo la excarcelacion de Lopez Rivera. “Creo que el juez abuso de su discrecion judicial. Lo castigo por sus ideales, una violacion a la Primera Enmienda de nuestra Constitucion. Otro en su lugar, hubiese recibido una sentencia mucho menor de lo que se le impuso,” agrego Suarez.

La conferencia de prensa se realizo en el medio del bufete del licenciado Suarez, y canto con la participacion de docenas de activistas y lideres comunitarios del centro de la Florida.

Jose E. Lopez, hermano de Oscar, cerro la conferencia haciendo entrega del reciente publicado libro de Oscar Lopez Rivera, a la activista Zoraida Andino Rios, al lider sindical Jimmy Torres Velez, al Lic. Anthony Suarez, y a Darren Soto y el Cong. Luis V. Gutierrez.

Los congregados se llevaron carteles alusivos a la campana que se hace en tres estados: Florida, Ohio y Pennsilvania, “We Vote to Free Oscar Lo?pez Rivera.”

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Community Victory in Humboldt Park Advisory Committee

Posted on 21 November 2016 by alejandro

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COMMUNITY ACTIVIST CHARLIE BILLUPS EXPRESSES GRATITUDE FOR

Community Victory in Humboldt Park Advisory Committee

—  TRACEY BARTELS REPLACED AS SECRETARY  —

SEPTEMBER 2016

Tonight a victory of enormous proportions has been won in Humboldt Park. is is a very sobering victory because we had to expose a fellow human being that for reasons known to her has had a misinformed and misguided opinion about who we are in the Puerto Rican community and our history and the struggles that many of us on daily basis fight to survive and to achieve signicance.

My heart is filled with joy as many members of our community were there, some with their little flags that somebody else had criticized as being cheap.

Their smile tonight was as big as their hearts and believe me tonight some felt that they were important and that their opinions counted.

The room was tense and the expectation that something nasty was about to happen never materialized, at the end the joy of victory was swift and the embraces and the love was heartfelt.

With this victory, we chart a new day in Humboldt Park, a new day in which many recognized our pain and realized that we need to be dealt with respect as fellow human beings. I recognize Jessie Fuentes, Janeida L. Rivera, Xavier Nogueras, Catherine Mueller Serpa, Carol Ann, Michele Miner, Mikey, Jesus the park district supervisor, Alderman Maldonado, Nilda Montanez, Raquel Torres, Pastor Ruben Escobar Pepin, Juanita Irizarry, Carl the garden guy, My mentor Maggie Martinez (You are an inspiration to me) Nancy Diaz, Marilyn Morales, the Park District Department Head and finally Amy Vega who I recognized has tried to bring and respect diversity in area that is difficult because of the realities of our changing communities in Chicago.

Lorena B. Billups Sarah and Pachi your joy and your smiles when we are feeding the geese and ducks live constantly in my heart.

To the Corillo of Humboldt Park you bring me joy and you might not think I see you, but I do and I love you.

Tonight I extend a hand of fellowship to those that don’t see things as we do. Inside our hearts there is forgiveness for the insults that we have received, we ask you to walk in our shoes and join us in the fellowship known as Humboldt Park.

Originally published on CharlieBillups.com

http://humboldtparkadvisorycouncil.blogspot.com/

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La Marqueta of East Harlem revives the Spirit of Lares with Don Rafael Cancel Miranda

Posted on 21 November 2016 by alejandro

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A crowd of 400 plus full of patriotic energy in the La Marqueta, in East Harlem waited anxiously to hear the words of their National Hero on Friday, September 23, 2016.

This year we had the privilege to honor Don Rafael Cancel Miranda and our commemoration of the heroic people of El Grito de Lares of September 23, 1868 in the affirmation of nationhood. Don Rafael and his comrades illustrated the transcendental passage of a struggle of resistance against colonialism from one generation in the 19th Century to another in the 20th Century. Don Rafael brought us back to the 1950’s. He reaffirmed our historical memory of the heroic actions of Lolita Lebron, Irvin Flores, Andres Figueroa Cordero and himself, all lived at that time in New York City (the diaspora), when on March of 1954, they marked a historical event that shocked the foundations of US imperialism and modeled for the rest of oppressed nations, in particular, Latin America, the route to liber- ation. Don Rafael said: “What motivated me as a young man of 23 to go to Washington, DC on the attack on Congress was the LOVE for my people”.

He explained the farce of the US in its establishment of the Commonwealth and lack of self-determination in Puerto Rico. Then he assures that 61 years later a er spending almost 30 years in the worst prisons in the US, he feels vindicated that now the US Supreme Court and Congress agrees that Puerto Rico did not obtain any form of sovereignty in 1950s. He spoke of the brave compatriots, women and men that were imprisoned in 1980s, that includes Oscar Lopez Rivera. He spoke of the heroic actions of five women that lived in the diaspora. Again, reaffirming the important role of the Puerto Rican diaspora in the struggle to free the homeland.

Clarisa Lopez, Oscar’s daughter, spoke of the importance to mobilize to Washington, DC on October 9, 2016 and urged people to sign up for bus trip on the table of literature. Over 60 persons signed up that night and over 300 petitions were singed and 500 palm cards distributed.

The crowd’s applauses and chants were louder than the sounds of the train that passed above us. The chants of “FREE OSCAR” transcended the iron pillars of the structure and hopefully reached to the White House for the immediate release of our beloved Oscar Lopez Rivera.

We heard performances from our favorite performers Fernandito Ferrer and La Banda Acustica that played their recently release CD “Mi querido Rafael” songs of different genres that explains all of Don Rafael’s life and struggle.

This year, El Grito de Lares marked another historical event that will remain in our historical memory forever. i?Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre!!

By Ana M. Lopez, NYC Coordinator to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera

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Ceiba Award Gala – NMPRAC. Honoring Lin-Manuel Miranda & Antonio Martorell / Sept. 22 2016

Posted on 21 November 2016 by alejandro

“I AM HUMBLE, BEYOND HUMBLE, BEYOND HUMBOLDT PARK!” – Lin Manuel – Miranda

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HISTORY WAS MADE AT THE NATIONAL PUERTO RICAN MUSEUM!

The smell of lechon (pork) filled the air as it slowly cooked in an outdoor pit for everyone to see. Traditional Puerto Rican music enchanted the ears of the 600+ people who attended the sold out event to the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture’s (NMPRAC) 3rd Annual Gala, Raices: A Celebration of our Roots.

NMPRAC’s home at the beautiful historic Humboldt Park stables on the corner of Division and Sacramento hosted this exciting evening as people were immersed in Puerto Rican art, culture, cuisine and music. It was “El Campo” meets “Hollywood” as the red carpet, theatre lighting, Puerto Rican artists and musicians playing Bomba and Plena music, transformed the parking lot into a gala atmosphere. Local legend John Roeser and Roeser’s Bakery created an ornate 3-foot cake replica of the Ceiba Award, which awed the crowd as they entered the main gallery of the museum, it was a piece of edible art.

WGNs, Ana Belaval, was the always-entertaining Mistress of Ceremonies for the third year in a row, and Segundo Ruiz Belvis’s performance dedicated to the awardees motivated both Miranda and Martorell to get up and dance, wowing the crowd.

Anne Pramaggiore, CEO of ComEd and the gala’s presenting sponsor, delivered remarks expressing their on-going commitment to NMPRAC as the rst sponsor to ever partner with the museum 15 years ago. Jose R. Sanchez, Gala Co-Chair and CEO of Norwegian American Hospital expressed his enthusiasm with the opportunity to conceptualize and coordinate several muse- um partnerships that will continue to foster mutually-benecial relationships between the hospital and the community for years to come.

NMPRAC’s CEO, Billy Ocasio, introduced a trailer documentary based on the life of the 2016 Ceiba Award recipient, legendary Artist, Antonio Martorell. is was followed by e Miracle Center’s excellent performance of a medley of Hamilton songs, which got the crowd to give these students a standing ovation.

Ocasio then presented the 2016 Ceiba Award to creative genius, Lin-Manuel Miranda. As both recipients expressed their sincere appreciation of being honored by receiving the coveted 2016 Ceiba Award, both Martorell and Miranda called on President Obama to release Oscar Lopez Rivera, making this a highlight of their speeches.

The exquisite night was concluded by Puerto Rico’s multi-award winning Jazz Artist, Humberto Ramirez, per- forming with a 16-piece band all made possible by Ventana Al Jazz and Puerto Rican Tourism.This historic evening would not have been possible without the support of NMPRAC’s Board of Directors, Sta , Sponsors and supporters and family – thank you for your ongoing commitment and dedication in preserving and promoting Puerto Rican art and culture.

For information on the NMPRAC please visit us at nmprac.org

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In La Marqueta Retona; New York Welcomes Gutierrez

Posted on 21 November 2016 by alejandro

Hundreds Applaud, Cheer Gutierrez and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito call for Oct. 9 Interfaith Convocation and Cultural Celebration

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On September 17, 2016 a special and spirited rally was held in the historical site “La Marqueta” in East Harlem to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera. La Marqueta is a market built underneath the metro north train system that has been renovated into a special space for Puerto Rican cultural expression and fortification of identity. Thus renamed “La Marqueta Retona”. It is, in essence, an outdoor theatre with a Caribbean touch with “kioskos” that sell “alcapurriaspastelillos” and other “cuchifritos” for the community to enjoy. It is an space where artist and musicians share their talents with free community performances.

On this date, “salsa” day, “La Marqueta” was visited by over 500 people. The community embraced the humanitarian rally for our beloved patriot Oscar who has been in prison for more than 35 years. Proclaimed by many the “Mandela of the Americas”, has become a symbol of unity and love for the Puerto Rican people. Special guests at- tended this rally all the way from Chicago. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who has embarked on a journey from the East Coast to the Midwest to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera, spoke in a very moving fashion to the hundreds present. Jose E. Lopez, Oscar’s brother was also present.

Over 1,000 fliers were distributed for the Interfaith Freedom Convocation on Oct. 9 to Washington, DC in the event and community, 200 petitions were signed, T-shirts bearing the words “Obama: Free Oscar Lopez Now!” were sold, and hundreds of persons took turns taking pictures with the life-size image of Oscar.

The humanitarian spirit spread, the reception was filled with warmth, and the community of East Harlem asked that we rally as much as possible. Agreed, until Oscar returns home!

by Prof. Ana M. Lopez NYC Coordinator to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera

 

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Vida/SIDA at the 2016 US Conference on AIDS

Posted on 21 November 2016 by alejandro

Puerto Rican delegation urges: Release of Oscar Lo?pez Rivera and Protests PROMESA

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The Puerto Rican Cultural Center sent several representatives from Vida/SIDA to the 2016 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA) held at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida from September 15-18th, 2016. This marks the 20th anniversary of the conference and a unique and exciting time to be a part of the ght against the epidemic. The PRCC delegation took part in this educational and collaborative convergence of several diverse forces in the national HIV/ AIDS community. In fact, the theme of “convergence” was featured heavily through promotional materials and two large plenary sessions featuring prominent speakers such as Dr. David Ho and MSNBC political commentator Melissa Harris-Perry. They spoke of converging quantitative and qualitative research methods, biomedical and behavioral approaches, prevention and treatment of the disease.

In addition to the larger plenary sessions, attendees participated in a number of seminars, roundtables, workshops and poster presentations. There was also an exhibition hall where PRCC-Vida/SIDA had a booth along with several other USCA conference partners, government agencies, community-based organizations, pharmaceutical companies and many others.

On the Final day of the conference, a large plenary luncheon took place in which the topic of the economic crisis in Puerto Rico and its effect on HIV prevention services was presented to a gathering of hundreds of conference attendees. A comprehensive discussion led by Jose Joaquin Mulinelli-Rodriguez of Coai, Inc., Dr. Carlos E. Rodriguez-Diaz from the University of Puerto Rico and Dra. Adriana Garriga-Lopez from Columbia University detailed multi-faceted approaches to address the multi-faceted crisis on the island.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic was summarized epidemiologically and socioeconomically and contextualized for the crowd.

The Puerto Rican delegation was one of the largest in attendance at USCA and this luncheon served as a crucial platform to advocate for the rights and dignity of the people on the island. While the attendees learned about HIV prevalence rates and a lack of prevention or treatment services, they also received a comprehensive examination of the current political, economic and social status of Puerto Rico with the United States.

The panelists demonstrated how the recent passage of the PROMESA Bill, which establishes an appointed (not elected) oversight board on the island essentially nullifies the right of Puerto Ricans to fight for their economic well-being. The speakers also mentioned the continued imprisonment of Oscar Lopez Rivera and the fight to free him after three and half decades despite calls from multiple Nobel Peace Prize winners as well as an international coalition of human rights, religious, labor, and business leaders. The ongoing injustice of Oscar’s incarceration in addition to the aforementioned geopolitically and economically calculated policy decisions by the U.S. government were used to help elucidate the several factors at play in the crisis in Puerto Rico on a large national stage.

by Ahmed Chaundry, PRCC Prevention Project

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