José E. López
Puerto Rican Cultural Center
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of Paseo Boricua, which is encased by the world’s largest steel fabricated flags. During this decade we, as a community, have grown and developed, as well as dug our roots deeper into this area. The Juan Antonio Corretjer Puerto Rican Cultural Center is proud to have played a role, both in the history-making process of reclaiming this area for our community, as well as having anchored it as a physical space for action and reflection.
As we celebrate this historic decade, on January 6, 2005, it is important for me to thank the members of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center for their work and passion which inspires me to continue to serve as its Executive Director. Without them, particularly the youth of Café Batey Urbano, it would be impossible to do my work. At the same time that I express my gratitude, it is important to highlight some of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center’s achievements of 2004. This past year was an amazing one, despite the many obstacles we faced. The following will give a synopsis of some of what we have accomplished:
- We were able to keep Vida/SIDA open and even expand our health services by adding COOP Humboldt Park to our projects. We raised more than $90,000, mostly from donations and pledges for the Campaign to Save Vida/SIDA, which we inaugurated with a huge event in June at Roberto Clemente High School featuring the world-renowned Ballets de San Juan. This event coincided with their 50th Anniversary World Tour;
- The Andres Figueroa Cordero Library and Community Information Center received an award and recognition from Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA);
- The Centro Infantil Consuelo Lee Corretjer celebrated the centennial of its namesake in March. We reprinted the Consuelo Lee Corretjer Abecedario Patriótico, with illustrations by Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera. A life-size mural honoring Doña Consuelo’s life and legacy, with the children’s palm prints, was unveiled;
- The Center also helped to mobilize for, and provided logistical support to, the First National Puerto Rican Encuentro, which featured a first-of-its-kind panel discussion by the three Puerto Rican Congresspeople: Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, Rep. Jose Serrano, and Rep. Nydia Velázquez;
- Café Batey Urbano not only continued to offer young people their own cultural venues; it also constructed its online radio station and helped organize a visit to Paseo Boricua by the legendary Eddie Palmieri;
- The 11th Annual Fiesta Boricua was held with thousands in attendance and our National Heroine, Lolita Lebrón, was given a hero’s welcome. She also participated in the week-long Jornada Albizu Campos in Chicago, making it the most successful ever;
- The Family Learning Center was officially renamed the Lolita Lebrón Family Learning Center;
- We capped off the year by hosting two important receptions: the first for the Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Álvarez Herrera at the Mariano Del Valle Lounge in the Center and the second for “la Voz Nacional de Puerto Rico,” Lucecita Benítez at Coco Restaurant.
Without a doubt, the future of our community and that of the Juan Antonio Corretjer Puerto Rican Cultural Center are truly interlaced with that of Paseo Boricua and its two flags. This sentiment was best expressed by Michael Rodríguez Muñiz, Editor of La Voz del Paseo Boricua (the newest project of the Cultural Center), when he wrote: “Standing between two flags, with one hope.”