… DISCUSSES HUMAN RIGHTS, LGBTQ ISSUES IN LIGHT OF PUERTO RICO’S COLONIAL AND ECONOMIC CRISIS
On Monday, November 2, 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 Directors of the ACLU and Amnesty International. In addition, Mr. Burgos Pérez 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’s current $72 billion debt and and said the Island will likely 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 the U.S. Congress gives such authority because Puerto Rico does not control its economy due to its colonial status. Being a colony, Mr. Burgos Pérez said, prohibits us from acquiring the tools needed to fix the Puerto Rican economy. The Puerto Rican Government has responded by slashing critical social services, including health care services and schools without regard to the human rights violations created by such actions.
Mr. Burgos-Pérez also spoke about the LGBT Human Rights Campaign with CABE, which not only seeks to have the LGBT community tolerated, but included in the nation of Puerto Rico. Mr. Burgos Pérez spoke to the attendees about the difference between tolerance, acceptance and inclusion of the LGBT community in Puerto Rico. He argued that the LGBT community should 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 make sure that the LGBT Community’s Human Rights are not 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.
By Ricardo Jiménez, Puerto Rican Cultural Center Program Director
… SHARES STORIES WITH GAY LATINO ACTIVISTS
Osvaldo Burgos Pérez came to Chicago to meet the Puerto Rican community, to offer his solidarity, and to visit political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. Mr. Burgos-Pérez is a gay activist/attorney whose work in Puerto Rico has involved anti-death penalty legislation, HIV prevention, and human rights. He is the past President of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International in Puerto Rico, and is currently the spokesperson for CABE, whose acronym translates as Broad Committee for the Search for Equity. CABE began as an organization lobbying for two bills in the Puerto Rican legislature; one concerned equal protection of the LGBT community the other concerned protection for victims of domestic same-sex violence. CABE is not a LGBT organization, but an eclectic group that includes the Puerto Rican Bar Association, other law groups, social workers, public health workers, NGO’s, as well as LGBT organizations. On the back of this formidable alliance, both bills passed the legislature in 2013. CABE had more work to do, however, so it could not disband.
As the spokesperson for CABE, Mr. Pérez-Burgos attended a reception in his honor in a home on the Paseo Boricua where he met and engaged in a discussion with leaders from Chicago’s Latino LGBT community. Those present discussed immigration reform, HIV/AIDS, racism, as well as anti-LGBT violence. Mr. Burgos-Pérez explained that the Island of Puerto Rico, regardless of political affiliation, was rallying around the excarceration of Oscar López Rivera. He spoke of CABE’s vision to unite disparate struggles into a coherent unmovable force. He invited those in the room (on this side of our Diaspora) to join the increasingly broad movement to free Oscar López Rivera, whom he described as, “The freest man I’ve met – despite his being in jail.”
By Roberto Sanabria, Puerto Rican Cultural Center Board of Directors