1 Year after Maria
During the one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans in Action, California for Progress and The Bernie Sanders Brigade joined forces to put Puerto Ricans in California in the national conversation with a week of planned activities.
SoCal Stands with Puerto Rico Press Conference
September 20th, 2018
On Thursday morning, we held a press conference to announce our week of action, speaking on the mistreatment of Puerto Rico in the wake of hurricane Maria, and the President's comments on those we lost due to the lack of support from the United States. A banner with the number “4,645” and pairs of shoes to signify those lost due to Maria was displayed. The press conference began with Jorge L. Rivera of Puerto Ricans in Action speaking on the organizations work with the Clean Water Project, the heartbreak after Maria hit the island and the demands of the people. Albizael Del Valle, Deputy for Council-member Marqueece Harris-Dawson, spoke about the island’s colonial status and opened up about the passing of his uncle due to the lack of help on the island. The conference ended with Ludo Vika, actor/comedian, who spoke about her experience of Hurricane Maria and FEMA´s rejection of her family's application.
Remembering Maria candlelight vigil
September 20th, 2018
On the night of September 20th, we gathered at Mofongos Restaurant, which was one of eleven vigils across the state of California that Puerto Ricans in Action helped plan. Standing in front of the Puerto Rican flag mural painted by @LenadelSol in the days leading up to the event, Nicole Hernandez of Puerto Ricans in Action spoke to the media and informed them that the vigil was to honor those we lost over the year due to Hurricane Maria, as well as what this day and event meant to the community. Our message for the event was, “We are stronger together.” Reina Mora kicked off the night with the Puerto Rican national anthem, “La Borinqueña,” inside the crowded restaurant. The entertainment continued with the performances of other singers, poets, and spoken word artists. Guests were invited to write the names of lost ones on a canvas that we would walk with during the march. Around 8:30 P.M. we ended the open mic and proceeded outside for the vigil. A circle was formed with guests holding lit candles. From inside the circle, Nicole led the crowd in a very personal and emotional conversation on what it meant to be in the diaspora during the hurricane. Guests shared their experiences, guilts, tears, and prayers. After a minute of silence, the vigil ended with guests reciting what towns their families were from. The night ended on a musical note with special guest, Louis Price of The Temptations, singing “My Girl,” and our musicians playing bomba for the guests.
Let’s Talk About Puerto Rico
September 22, 2018
On Saturday, September 22nd, we brought our “Lets Talk About Puerto Rico” series to Pomona, CA. The event was held at the Latino Art Museum, where they were also hosting artwork from several Puerto Rican artists. The event kicked off with welcome introductions, followed by Fred Hernandez, a graduate student at UCLA majoring in gender studies, who lead group discussions on the education crisis in Puerto Rico. A salsa lesson taught by Kristen Duke followed the group discussions. We were happy to finally hold an event in the Pomona area and meet many new Boricuas. Guests came from San Diego, Aliso Viejo, the San Gabriel Valley, and the Inland Empire. We look forward to both continuing our “Let's Talk About Puerto Rico” series and future events in Pomona.
SoCal Stands with Puerto Rico March and Rally
September 23, 2018
On Sunday, September 23rd, we held our SoCal Stands for Puerto Rico March and Rally. We gathered at 11:00 A.M. at Hollywood and Vine. Around 12 P.M. we moved from the sidewalk into the street, with a full street closure of Hollywood Boulevard. The march, which was led and blessed by the American Indian Movement, began at 12:30 P.M. making its way towards Hollywood and Highland and ending at the TCL Chinese Theatre. It drew a crowd of 200 people, with multiple news outlets [ABC, NBC, Univision] reporting from the march and featuring the event in the evening news. The march and rally were co-hosted by the Bernie Sanders Brigade in Los Angeles, California For Progress, Our Revolution SoCal OC, The Convo Couch, Assistance For The Resistance.
Our rally host was Puerto Rican comedian Aida Rodriguez. Doctor Johnny Ramirez Johnson, of Fuller Seminary, gave the opening message and prayer. Our national anthem “La Borinqueña” was performed by Reina Mora. Lawrence Reyes, Puerto Rican Alliances and former Young Lords member, spoke on September 23rd also being the anniversary of El Grito de Lares. Christina Florez gave a dance performance to “Preciosa” by Marc Anthony. Arianna Benitez spoke about her experience living through the hurricane in Puerto Rico and now is a student at Chapman University.
Speakers covered the gamut from personal experiences living through hurricane Maria, the policy struggles that the island is facing, to the solidarity between our movement and that of Black Lives Matter's, with speaker Brittany Craig of the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles chapter. Dr. Anaida Colon-Muniz introduced her work with the Teachers Federation in Puerto Rico, Nicole Hernandez of Puerto Ricans In Action discussed their Clean Water Project and the water crisis in Puerto Rico, plus their current goals and future goals for the Puerto Rican community in Southern California. The event ended with Lawrence Reyes providing the historical contacts for the day and reviewing the list of our demands. Our demands included:
We demand from our elected officials in Washington:
A ´Marshall Plan´ for the rebuilding of Puerto Rico.
Cancellation of Puerto Rico's debt and PROMESA Act austerity measures.
A permanent waiver of the Jones Act for Puerto Rico.
Recognition of the right of Puerto Ricans to self-determination and an immediate start to the decolonization process.