National Puerto Rican Agenda Established
The diaspora coalition outlined policies and some priorities
translated from Spanish by National institute for Latino Policy
CAMDEN, New Jersey- Dozens of diaspora organizations yesterday gave structure to the new “National Puerto Rican Agenda” coalition at a meeting in which they repudiated the imposition of a federal board of fiscal control and demanded the release of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera.
The groups elected a board of 30 people – including individuals from 11 states and Washington D.C.-, and an executive committee of eight people.
The executive committee is headed by Luis Garden Acosta, president and founder of the El Puente organization, with offices in New York and San Juan. The vice president is Nilda Ruiz of the Puerto Rican Association in March of Philadelphia.
“There are many issues we have to confront. But the main idea is unity,”said Garden Acosta, after the meeting at the Camden Conference Center that was attended by about 150 people, including several elected officials.
With regard to the PROMISA law, the voslition agreeed to join efforts to monitor the actions of the federal fiscal control board.
“A board that is not representative of the Puerto Rican people is rejected,” said Marco Vilar, one of the representatives of the Florida chapter of the National Puerto Rican Agenda (NPRA).
Jimmy Torres Velez of the Puerto Rican Action Initiative in Florida said that “we must make clear that austerity should not be the alternative” to address the fiscal crisis and public debt of Puerto Rico.
With regard to political status, the consensus of the Agenda is to work for the decolonization of Puerto Rico, through a binding agreement to Congress that meets international standards that recognize as alternative governments free association, independence and statehood.
The National Puerto Rican Agenda supports the principle that those born in Puerto Rico and children of at least one parent or Puerto Rican mother, should have the right to participate in the decision on the political future of the island.
The demand for the release of López Rivera was one of the resolutions adopted at the meeting, said Gretchen Sierra Zorita, who is in charge of communications for the organization and is based in Washington D.C.
At a time when the US electoral process enters its decisive phase, the Agenda agreed to give priority to the registration and mobilization of Puerto Rican voters in the US, especially in the key states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where there is a possibility that the Boricua community could be decisive.
Issues such as the impact of Puerto Rican emigration, the restructuring of the Electric Power Authority (PREPA), climate change and the promotion of renewable energy is on the list of issues to be addressed by the organization.
They will also develop proposals for parity in federal health programs, attention to loss of Medicaid funds, issues of education, housing at reasonable cost, security and human rights.
“The most important thing is we met, because our community will continue to grow. Our people want to see a leadership that is dedicated to our agenda,”said New York State Assmeblyman Jose Rivera.
In addition to Rivera, Melissa Mark Viverito, President of the New York City Council, New Jersey State Senators Nilsa Cruz and Nelly Pou, the Illinois State Senator Iris Martinez, Pennsylvania State Representative Angel Cruz and Philadelphia Councilmember Maria Quiñones Sánchez, among other Puerto Rican elected officials, participated in the work yesterday, giving continuity to previous summit meetings held in Orlando (Florida), New York and Washington DC.
Some of the politicians present are in the area to participate in the Democratic national convention starting today (Monday) in Philadelphia, adjacent to Camden.
Garden Acosta said it is the first time that a Puerto Rican coalition is not only responsible for bringing boricua organizations snd civic leaders together, but also to integrate elected officials who have the political power in their communities to move forward initiatives that impact the Puerto Rican diaspora.
The National Puerto Rican Agenda is also promoting a demonstration this afternoon in Philadelphia under the slogan “Puerto Rico is to be respected”, which aims to denounce the imposition of the federal fiscal control board over the Puerto Rico government, on the occasion of the 118 anniversary of the US invasion of 1898 and 64th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the Commonwealth
Rivera said tit will be key to “put pressure on the Democratic Party, for they have much to gain from the Puerto Rican community, but also much to lose.”
Meeting for López Rivera
After the summit, Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez (Illinois) led the opening of the art exhibition, “A Single Voice,: in the Puerto Rican area of Kensington in Philadelphia and a meeting in support of the request for clemency for Lopez Rivera, former militant of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), who has been in federal prison for 35 years.
At the event, and in the evening hours, Gutierrez referred to the PROMISA federal law that imposes s fiscal control board and the possibility of restructuring the public debt of Puerto Rico. “With PROMISA, Congress has shown that it treats us like garbage,” said Gutierrez, who today spoke before the National Democratic Convention.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania State Representative Angel Cruz, who chairs the Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators in the US, said that the release of López Rivera should be the priority of the Puerto Rican community.
Danny Rivera and the group of Mijo de la Palma performed at the event. Danny Rivera will be one of the artists who will be performing today at the demonstration under the slogan “Puerto Rico is to be respected”
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