Human Rights in the Face of Puerto Rico’s Colonial and Economic Crisis

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By Ricardo Jiménez, Puerto Rican Cultural Center Program Director
On Monday, November 2nd, The Puerto Rican Cultural Center hosted a Human Rights Luncheon with Attorney and Professor Osvaldo Burgos Pérez who is a Human rights attorney in Puerto Rico and serves on the board of Director of the ACLU and Amnesty International.  In addition, Mr. Burgos Perez is the spokesperson for CABE, which is a Broad Committee for the Search for Equity founded in 2013. He is also a prominent gay rights and anti-death penalty activist.
Mr. Burgos Pérez spoke to the crowd of Puerto Rico current $72 Billion in debt and that the island is likely to run out of money in a month.  He related that unlike United States cities and states, Puerto Rico is unable to file for bankruptcy or restructure its debt unless U.S. Congress gives such authority since Puerto Rico does not control its economy due to its colonial status. Mr. Burgos Perez said, being a colony does not allow us the tools to fix the Puerto Rican economy.  In essence this is why Puerto Rico is $72 Billion in debt.  The response of the Puerto Rican government has been to slash critical social services including health care services and schools without consideration of the human rights violations being committed by taking this route.

Mr. Burgos also spoke about the LGBT Human Rights Campaign with CABE, which seeks to have the LGBT Community to be not only accepted but also inclusive in the nation of Puerto Rico. Mr. Burgos Pérez spoke to the attendees of the difference of tolerance, acceptance and inclusion of the LGBT community in Puerto Rico.  He said that LGBT must strive to be accepted in society but more so the LGBT Community must exert its potential to be inclusive and part of the general society.  Mr. Burgos Pérez mentioned that we must struggle to be inclusive and be part of the general society of Puerto Rico and make sure that the LGBT Community Human Rights will not be violated regardless of political, social, civil and religious affiliations. When we reach this point, hence when a violation of Human Rights is committed, the whole society will respond since we have achieved inclusion in the general society.

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