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Chicago group calls for action as Hurricane Fiona hits Puerto Rico – Brospar Daily News

Against the backdrop of a 59-foot Puerto Rican flag made of steel at Paseo Boricua in Humboldt Park, local elected officials and community leaders call for action after Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico, which made landfall over the weekend – just in time for Puerto Rico’s fifth anniversary Soon after Memorial Day. Hurricane Maria.

In 2017, Chicago’s Puerto Rico Agenda led the island’s relief efforts, landing a plane carrying essential supplies in Puerto Rico, opening a welcome center for displaced families, and delivering to more than 50 Puerto Ricans, according to the co-chairs. The town provided a small grant of $600,000 to Jesse Fuentes.

“The Puerto Rican agenda is ready to act again,” Fuentes told a group of community members, some from Puerto Rico or with family members there, in the scorching morning light, holding little Puerto Rican signs of cheers and applause.

“Many of us will not be able to remove the image of the Utuado bridge, which was just built after Hurricane Maria was torn from its roots by a landslide,” Fuentes added. “The people of Puerto Rico need Our support, they need our solidarity. But more importantly, they need money. I can’t stress it enough.”

The call came as many criticized the media’s lack of coverage of the natural disaster, which left many on the island without electricity or running water.

“Visibility is important. We know more about Queen Elizabeth’s funeral (on Monday) than we all want to know,” Fuentes said. “We have to have a full understanding of what’s going on in Puerto Rico, and we have to create that visibility so that we can ask for recovery and we can ask for resources.”

Former congressman Luis Gutierrez said the skies were clear and sunny when his plane left Puerto Rico on Saturday. Less than 12 hours later, the tropical storm that hit the island turned into Hurricane Fiona at the last minute.

“We have to understand that global warming is real. It’s affecting the world. We’re seeing the effects of global warming on Puerto Rico,” Gutierrez said.

Alder. Roberto Maldonado, 26, spoke of the unity the people of Puerto Rico showed when disaster struck.

“Even with deep political divisions within ourselves, at times like these, we are united for the greater good,” Maldonado said. “So, political differences aside, we are here for Puerto Rico. brothers and sisters doing the right thing.”

Many speakers cited LUMA, the private company responsible for power distribution in Puerto Rico, expressing doubts about their alleged inability to build a resilient grid for the island. They also called on the U.S. government to investigate the company.

“Yes, we should look into the privatization of our energy system. But we should also look at why nearly $1 billion is sitting idle in the U.S. Treasury and not being sent to the people of Puerto Rico,” Gutierrez said, referring to The aid money after Hurricane Maria.

In Spanish, Gutierrez also called on local and state governments to show solidarity with Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria struck.

“Nothing is closer to my heart than the people of Puerto Rico, this island that saw the birth of my wife Soledad, my grandparents and all my predecessors: my father and mother. I keep that island in my heart, ‘ he said, one hand on his chest. “I ask all those who are proud to be Puerto Ricans — and they should be — to donate and contribute in this time of need.”

Governor JB Pritzker issued a statement Monday in solidarity with Puerto Ricans on the island and in Chicago.

“We must all do more to acknowledge our responsibility to Puerto Ricans; to draw attention to these crises, not only because they are tragic, but because Puerto Ricans are often barred from speaking for themselves,” the statement read. . “We have to fundamentally recognize that their unequal status in this country will push them aside. We stand with you.”

“Illinois is home to a large and vibrant community of Puerto Ricans, and I know many of these people today are worried about their families and friends hundreds of miles away. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

Pritzker also said the state will provide all necessary assistance to hurricane victims, noting that recent Receiving asylum seekers and immigrants Came to Illinois from the southern border of the United States.

“Illinois is not turning away those in need, and we will continue to welcome these travelers and any Puerto Rican climate refugees who use all of our available resources to find a safe place to land,” he said.

In a news conference, Chicago Chief Procurement Officer Aileen Velazquez expressed grief for those affected by Category 3 Fiona on behalf of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and colleagues.

“The city has strong long-standing ties to the Puerto Rican community, and we are committed to working together,” she said.

Alder. Rossana Rodriguez, 33, and Sen. Cristina Pacione-Zayas, a Democrat from Chicago, and State Rep. Delia Ramirez, who is running for a new 3rd Congressional District, spoke about the repetitive nature of natural disasters on the island and what they say is bad for Puerto Ricans. Ask for a lack of response.

“One of my mentors from this community kept saying that history doesn’t repeat itself, but history insists on solving,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Unfortunately, five years later, and actually to this day, we are all here, talking about the same things, making the same demands. It used to be said that if you do the same thing over and over and expect different results, this That’s the definition of insanity. That’s what we’re going through right now.”

Pacione-Zayas said Hurricane Fiona wasn’t the only disaster the island she called a modern American colony is currently experiencing.

“The people of Puerto Rico have never been able to self-determine. All of their structures have to be channeled through the federal government,” she said. “For more than two decades, we have been living through a fiscal crisis that has robbed us of our ability to properly plan and effectively implement strategies to deal with what we know is true and what is true of climate change.”

The state senator also mentioned the displacement of thousands of people after Hurricane Maria.

“This is a humanitarian crisis,” Pacione-Zayas. “It’s an irony that we must continue to organize our money, our people, our message to deliver that message and do what the people of Puerto Rico do, which is to uphold their humanity and dignity.”

Rodriguez, who grew up in Puerto Rico, remembers protesting the lack of water when she was 6 years old. Rodriguez and Pacione-Zayas say people are used to the island’s lack of electricity and access to clean water.

“I have a message for the people of Puerto Rico, my family and my neighbors: They are exhausted. It feels like Groundhog Day,” Rodriguez said.

She added that Puerto Ricans are now helping each other, feeding neighbors sancocho or goulash. “They were there for each other,” she said. “And I think one of the most important things we can do right now is support them as they do it because they know exactly what they’re doing.”

Sol Cordero has lived in Humboldt Park since he was a child, and has a sister and niece who live on the island. She told the Tribune they were safe but communications were unstable due to the power outage.

“They’re doing great. But they don’t have light. They don’t have water. They just want to stay united,” Cordero said. “They all live in the same neighborhood Or in the same town. So, they are all trying to stick together and help each other. “

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During Hurricane Maria, she said she was unable to reach her sister for the first few days.

“I think that was kind of bad because we hadn’t heard from them for days,” Cordero said. “So, as soon as I got her call, I started crying. It makes me emotional now because it’s coming back.”

The National Museum of Art and Culture of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Cultural Center will also coordinate fundraising efforts with the Puerto Rico Agenda.

“We can’t duplicate efforts. We all have to be on the same page. So we’re going to meet immediate needs,” said museum director Billy Ocasio.

For more information on giving, visit the Puerto Rico Agenda’s website: puertoricanchicago.org

adperez@chicagotribune.com

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