"Still Dreaming": Immigrant Rights Champion Rep. Luis Gutiérrez on Life of Activism & Politics

Democracy Now

Cong. Gutiérrez has just written a memoir, "Still Dreaming: My Journey from the Barrio to Capitol Hill." We talk about his time living in Puerto Rico, the night his house in Chicago was firebombed, his embrace of civil disobedience over the years, and his political mentor, Harold Washington, Chicago's first African-American mayor. Gutiérrez also talks about his next challenge: securing enough votes in the House to pass an immigration bill. Listen to the interview here.


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Cartas abiertas desde mi serda, cartas abiertas para mi tierra.
Soy ave atrapada en lejanas tierras, pero no dejo de pensar en ti mi Borinquena.
Despertaron en ti el arte y la conciencia a luchar por mi libertad y mi condena.

Llevo atrapado en una larga decada pero no pierdo la fe de pisar mi tierra.
Me llaman mis hermanos compatriotas, los que han seguido mi trayectoria.
Hoy es un orgullo estar en esta serda, pues en ella hay historia de un alma en pena pero en Victoria que lucha por sus ideales y por su independencia.

Se que las canas han cubierto mi cabellera pero ha valido la pena me he fortalecido con ellas.
La fe no la pierdo aun estoy vivo, aunque muchos quisieran dejarme en el olvido.
Mi libertad seria para pisar mi suelo y ver los mios; pero hace tiempo soy libre pues me llena de orgullo ser quien soy y de haber estado preso por lo que he creido.

Poema por Aida Diaz
Dedicado a nuestro compatriota y hermano Oscar



Todos y Todas a Separar la Fecha por la Libertad de Oscar Ya


Sábado 23 de noviembre

Gran Marcha Nacional en Puerto Rico

1pm desde el Edificio Federal en la Chardon


Exhortamos a las organizaciones y amigos/as solidarias y amigos/as en otros paises a realizar acciones simultaneas por la excarcelacion del patriota Oscar Lopez Rivera - mas de 32 años en las carceles del imperio - libertad ahora sin condiciones.


PUERTO RICO: Apoyemos el esfuerzo del Comité Pro Derechos Humanos de Puerto Rico y el Grupo 32 x Oscar que de manera conjunta nos están convocando para esta marcha. Unidad de pueblo para vencer.

Sen. Durbin, PRCC and Congressman Luis Gutiérrez Roll Out Affordable Health Care in Community During Barrio Health Fair

On Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and Congressman Luis Gutiérrez rolled out this community's affordable health Care Act during a Barrio Health Fair held at Norwegian American Hospital. The event began with a press conference which featured Sen. Dick Durbin, and Congressman Luis Gutierrez who were accompanied by State Senator Iris Martinez, State Representative Cynthia Soto, and Luis Arroyo, as well as Cook County Commissioner Edwin Reyes. Additionally present were community leaders Billy Ocasio, Hilda Frontany, Jaime Delgado and Marvin Garcia. José E. López, Executive Director of the PRCC welcomed the elected officials, community leaders and the nearly 200 people in attendance. He proceeded to welcome José Sanchez, Norwegian American CEO, who spoke about the importance of Norwegian American hospital and its role as a community hospital in carrying out the mandated Affordable Care Act. José Sánchez then introduced Dr. Bechara Choucair who underscored his commitment, and that of the city, as Chicago's Health Commissioner.


Congressman Luis Gutierrez, in his remarks spoke about the unswerving leadership Sen. Durbin had demonstrated in the Senate's adaptation of the Affordable Care Act. He also made reference to the importance of the legalization of the undocumented who are left out of this historic healthcare initiative, The audience received the Congressman's words with resounding applause. José Sanchez, culminated the event by introducing the event's special guest, Sen. Durbin, who was warmly received, and gave a passionate defense of the Affordable Care Act, which he considered one of the historic acts of the US body politic.


At the health fair individuals were able to obtain a flu shot at no cost, learn information about the different programs of the PRCC, and, most importantly, they were able to learn about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.  Additionally, community members were able to enroll in the newly available health insurance plans, including adult Medicaid and private insurance. The event was a success thanks to the hard work of the PRCC Navigators and In-Person Counselor staff, and through the promotion via flyers and media outlets.    


To learn more about your health insurance options through Get Covered Illinois, please contact PRCC staff via phone 773-227-7794 or visit us at the office: 1112 N. California Ave.  If you enroll by December 15th, your coverage will begin on January 1st 2014.  We are available to provide free assistance in English and Spanish, as well as presentations to groups! 

PRCC Strategic Planning Session Extends, Adds To It's 5-Year Plan
Wednesday, October 30- The Puerto Rican Cultural Center held a strategic planning session at the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture to develop goals and benchmarks for the next five years. Under the creative direction of the consulting group JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc of Boston, Mass., board members, administrative staff, community partners, staff members and volunteers gathered to brainstorm, discuss, imagine, and spread their ideas all over the walls for eight hours. JSI Institute facilitators Rodolfo Vega and Elena Thomas Faulkner led participants at they identified the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that the organization needs to contend with and harness in building capacity over the coming years. 

Congratulations to Hugo Teruel at LARES 

The UIC Latin American Recruitment and Educational Services Program now has a permanent director, Hugo Teruel.  He has served LARES for many years and is highly requested by students and community.  Teruel was officially designated as the head of LARES on Wed. Oct. 17. The photograph below has Hugo, along with UIC Pres. Robert Easter, State Rep. Cynthia Soto and PRCC Executive Director José E. López earlier this month visiting Paseo Boricua to learn about the Community as a Campus Plan.


Official UIC Announcement



We are pleased to announce that Hugo Teruel has been appointed Director of the Latin American Recruitment and Educational Services (LARES) program, effective October 16, 2013, pending Board of Trustees approval.
Mr. Teruel has been an advocate for access to higher education for Latinos for over 30 years; 25 of those years at UIC. As Associate Director of LARES for almost 10 years, and Interim Director for the past 2 years, he has been responsible for the supervision and administration of LARES, and implementation of its mission and long-term goals. Mr. Teruel has managed recruitment and retention initiatives, and worked to develop and maintain relationships with community organizations and citywide and statewide committees that work with issues related to education, underrepresentation, and diversity. He also has extensive experience in the areas of student services, academic affairs, budget management, diversity programming, assessment, academic advising, and teaching.
During Mr. Teruel's time at LARES, he has represented the program on a variety of campus-wide committees including the Provost's Diversity Advisory Committee, the Review Committee for the Centers of Diversity, the Enrollment Impact Committee and the Provost's Working Group. He has served as co-chair for the Chancellor's Committee on the Status of Latinos and the Latino Committee on University Affairs. He is chair of the Roadblocks for Undocumented committee and sits on the boards of the Illinois Latino Council of Higher Education (ILACHE) and the Illinois Board of Higher Education's (IBHE) Hispanic Employment Plan for Higher Education committee.
Mr. Teruel is an alumnus of UIC who received his master's degree in music composition from Roosevelt University. He has taught at UIC, Columbia College, and Northeastern Illinois University. He is fluent in English and Spanish and has a working knowledge of sign language.
Please join us in welcoming Mr. Teruel to the directorship.
Paula Allen Meares Chancellor John Corbally Presidential Professor
Lon S. Kaufman Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost
Kevin Browne Vice Provost for Academic and Enrollment Services 


Clemente High School & Puerto Rican Cultural Center Pipeline Students Explore Universities

October 24th, Rebecca Rios and Alyssa Villegas brought their pipeline students to NEIU for a tour and introduction to the campus and some of the programs. The students listened to presentors from Proyecto Pa'Lante, Project Success, Admissions, and the Latino Resource Center. Then they were given a tour of the different buildings and some offices such as the Latino and Latin American, African American, and Women Studies office, the Oue Ondee Sola office, and all of the different classroom buildings. 


Columbia College-On October 23, 16 students from Roberto Clemente Community Academy (RCCA) went on a tour of Columbia College Chicago (CCC). The tour was organized by the College Pipeline in RCCA, a program that works with students who are interested in attending CCC by creating a student portfolio, admission/scholarship applications. Students were taken to see different departments around the campus including Television Production, Art + Design, and Photography. It gave students a taste of what the field they are interested in is really like. After the tour, students gathered in the Multi Cultural Affairs Office to be greeted by Mark Kelly, Vice President of Student Affairs. He told the students that Columbia is not for 95% of people, but how they are the right fit for the 5% that wants to pursue a Liberal Arts degree. After his session with the students he asked how many were interested in attending Columbia College Chicago next fall, and 15 students raised their hands.


UIC-On Friday October 25th, sixteen Roberto Clemente high school students joined hundreds of UIC students in their daily college life. These students received a guided tour by their College Pipeline mentor Maria and they were also in company of their Senior Coordinator Antonio Prior. Students also took a first look to campus housing and dorms and they also received an informational presentation by the LARES Program (Latin American Resource and Educational Services). This program also sponsored their lunch and students were able to interact with some of the administrative personal of UIC's main offices. Overall students were able to enjoy their experience by walking through the same hallways and buildings of UIC graduate and undergraduate students.


El Diario-La Prensa de Nueva York
Estudiantes en El Bronx "irán a prisión" por Oscar López
Alumnos de Hostos Community College se encerrarán hoy en una celda de manera simbólica para solicitar la excarcelación del preso político boricua. Leáse articulo completo.

Carmen Yulín pide liberación de Oscar López en la convención Demócrata

La alcaldesa de San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, aprovechó su participó en la Convención del Partido Demócrata del estado de la Florida para abogar por la excarcelación de Oscar López Rivera.

"Para nosotros es de suma importancia que desde Florida se unan a las miles de voces que componen el movimiento para lograr la excarcelación de Oscar López, un hombre que está preso por su manera de pensar", dijo Cruz, según se informó en comunicado de prensa.

"El mundo no espera menos de ustedes, que cumplan lo que predican para otros, liberando a Oscar ahora", agregó.

La alcaldesa de San Juan compartió en el evento con otros oradores, como la congresista de Ohio, Nina Turner, y el presidente del Senado de Puerto Rico, Eduardo Bhatia.

Octava carta de Oscar López Rivera a su nieta
El Nuevo Día publica periódicamente los sábados las cartas que el preso político Oscar López Rivera le envía desde prisión a su nieta Karina, a la cual solo ha conocido a través de los barrotes de la cárcel. López Rivera lleva 32 años encarcelado.

 From NY: Wally Edgecombe and José Rivera Honored

"Forging the Unconditional Release of 

Oscar López"

A series of events was organized by the New York Coordinator to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera with former Puerto Rican political prisoners from October 23-27, 2013.   It started with a "Conversatorio" a dialogue with former political prisoners: Elizam Escobar, Luis Rosa Perez, Adolfo Matos Antongiorgi and Ricardo Jimenez with students from Hostos Community College sponsored by the Puerto Rican Student Organization.  Over 200 Hostos students attended the program and asked many questions regarding their incarceration, violations of human rights, the status of Puerto Rico and the chance of Puerto Rico becoming part of Latin American renaissance happening today.  Students, professors and staff then proceeded as a symbolic act to "go to prison" in solidarity with Oscar.  Hundreds of students participated each taking turns after the religious convocation of Reverend David Traverso. Hundreds of petitions to President Barack Obama were signed and collected.


On Friday, October 25, the compañeros  were warmly received by 45 Puerto Rican elders where they gave a community talk at a senior citizen center in East Harlem with the topic: "Conociendo los pueblos de Puerto Rico y sus luchadores" (Learning about Puerto Rican hometowns and their  community fighters).The town showcased were San Sebastian, Lajas, Ponce and Aguadilla. The reception and exchange was filled with flashback journeys of hometowns in Puerto Rico. That was followed with a luncheon and a party. You should have seen how the former political prisoners danced their feet off with seniors to Latin/salsa beats to a room filled with 80 elders.


Later that evening, the compañeros had dinner and gave a presentation at the Militant Labor Forum to a room filled with workers and activists. In their talk, they shared their experience inside the prison walls, but mostly emphasized the need to push forward the campaign to free Oscar López Rivera.  And the urgency to have everyone participate in the petition drive (signing of letters) to President Barack Obama.


Before the start of the concert Saturday evening, nearly 500 community members took turns to "go to prison" for Oscar.  A special feature was the representatives of the international community also symbolically went to prison for Oscar  like honorable Julio Escalante, Permanent Ambassador  of Venezuela  to the UN and Ariel Hernandez Hernandez from Cuba raised his five fingers representing of the "Cuban Five" heroes still in US prisons today.


On Saturday, October 26 was the big day of the "Cantata Pa' Oscar", a unique and interactive concert with 17 performers consisting of artists and musicians of all genres and a 500 people audience. All performers had artistically prepared moving and "escalofriante" lyrics calling for the freedom of OSCAR LOPEZ RIVERA. The master of ceremony Fernando Ponce Laspinas, revealed the program: From the "Cuatristas" to the "jibaro music" to the "hip/hop", the "bomba y plena" and salsa, the "cry " for Oscar's unconditional freedom was the demand.  The audience was hyped with maximum participation and interaction with the chant of the hip/hop performers of Seven Thirty-the Problem Child:  "When I say FREE, you say OSCAR" and Divine Torres who through the "the spoken word" told the history of Puerto Rico's struggle for freedom.  Salsero Yova Rodriguez sang "accapella" his new song dedicated to Oscar where the audience gave him a vote of confidence with the chant "grabala" ( record it). The audience could not be contained by the bomba and plena rhymes and the dancing of Puerto Rican Folklore.  One left with the feeling of hoping that if spirit of the audience in that concert can transcend and reach Oscar who was the only one missing in this great celebration of the honoree himself.


The concert's highlights were when former Puerto Rican political prisoners, Adolfo Matos Antongiorgi, Elizam Escobar, Luis Rosa Perez and Ricardo Jimenez received the medals of "champions of human rights struggle for Puerto Rico" from Professor Ana M. Lopez, and Lourdes Lugo, Oscar's niece read Oscar's letter to the public with the message of his own trajectory of political development and that people need to continue struggling. Others honored at the local level were Wally Edgecombe, a Cuban brother from Hostos and State Assemblyman Jose Rivera for their unconditional support to the Puerto Rican community and freedom.