Chicago, IL (February 24, 2020)— The Illinois delegation of the Puerto Rican Agenda provided a report on the six-municipality tour of those areas deeply affected by the earthquakes in southern Puerto Rico during a press conference held at UrbanTheater Company on Paseo Boricua.
On Sunday, February 16, 2020, leadership of The Puerto Rican Agenda of Chicago, Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (4th Congressional District), State Representatives Delia Ramírez (4th District), and Lamont Robinson (5th District) joined Comerío Mayor Josián Santiago for a solidarity visit to distribute donations to the towns of Guánica, Lajas, Guayanilla, Yauco, Peñuelas, and Ponce.
The delegation arrived on the heels of the Congressional House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure visit that included Congressman García. Municipal leadership from Caguas, Hormigueros, and former Congressman Luís Gutiérrez welcomed the delegation on Saturday, February 15 before launching a day-long tour engaging with local mayors, community-based organizations, and families who are managing the impact of incessant earthquakes and tremors. Delegation members visited tent cities formed as a result of crumbling homes and buildings. Each municipality articulated unique needs and thus requires distinct solutions to the problems they encounter.
Through the generosity of hundreds of donors, including Congressman García, Representative Ramírez, World Business Chicago, La Obra, University of Illinois Union for Puerto Rican Students and Latino Cultural Center, allies from the Palestinian community, and many others, the Puerto Rican Agenda of Chicago delivered $40,000 in micro-grants and Puerto Rican-led relief initiatives immediately following the 6.4 magnitude earthquake on January 7, 2020. Donations went directly to the hands of families, community-based organizations, and mayors providing immediate relief in the form of first necessities, legal representation, mental health services, housing vouchers, and social/emotional support. The mayors of affected areas shared comprehensive plans to address front-line needs in the face of negligence and incompetency of the federal and central governments. Homes are inhabitable, electricity is spotty, and schools are still closed leaving hundreds of children without education.
Although Congress appropriated federal aid after Hurricane Maria, a small fraction of that aid made it to Puerto Rico. Furthermore, the $8 billion released from HUD had additional stipulations and regulations that pose insurmountable barriers to reach those most in need. Puerto Rico is no longer in the headlines nor is it in the public discourse, but the hardship is still pressing.
For more information about how to help Puerto Rico, go to: www.PuertoRicanChicago.org
DONATE HERE: WWW.PUERTORICANCHICAGO.ORG
By Cristina Pacione-Zayas
Co-Chair, Puerto Rican Agenda