Message from PRCC Executive Director

José E. López

I want to express my deepest gratitude to all the staff, volunteers, and supporters that have helped the Puerto Rican Cultural Center realize a year full of achievements. In 2014, we successfully confronted many challenges with creative and principled resolve.

            We began the year, as did the rest of the city, with a frigid cold that forced us to cancel-for the first time-our annual Three Kings Day celebration. All the toys, which we wrapped last year and those we have collected this year, will be distributed at the upcoming Three Kings Day Parade and Winter Fest to be held on Tuesday, January 6, 2015.

Our year took a turn for the better with the 100X35X6 open house. On March 3, 2014, we showcased the exciting work of our first housing initiative, El Rescate. This initiative provides a home for two-dozen LGBT Latino/a youth.

            During the summer, the PRCC and its programs were extremely active. On June 14, we held the 2nd Unified Puerto Rican Peoples' Day Parade. Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel led the parade alongside Alderman Roberto Maldonado, State Representative Cynthia Soto, and Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez.

During the week of August 30-31, we celebrated our 21st Annual Fiesta Boricua. As a key part of this celebration of Puerto Rican culture, artisanry, and food, we honored the municipality of San Lorenzo as the year's "Lo Mejor de Nuestros Pueblos." A representative delegation headed by Mayor José R. Román Abreu participated actively in every aspect of Fiesta, including the "Noche Jibara," "Misa Jibara," and Fiesta Boricua itself. An exciting addition to this annual festival was a contingent from the Bronx, New York, which joined us with the legendary salseros Herman Olivera and Yova Rodríguez, and the Latino political pioneer, NY State Assemblyman José Rivera. The Bronx was selected to represent a new feature of Fiesta Boricua, "Lo Mejor de Nuestros Barrios"-in honor of the Puerto Rican diaspora. The celebration was capped with an improvised musical performance dedicated to Puerto Rican political prisoner, Oscar López Rivera, by Herman Olivera, Yova Rodriguez, and the new expression of salsa, Pirulo y La Tribu joined by the MacArthur genius award winner, the Latin Jazz virtuoso, Miguel Zenon.

            Our successful 21st Fiesta Boricua was followed by the reopening of the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (formerly known as the Institute for Puerto Rican Arts and Culture). A spectacular gala, which was featured on WGN-Chanel 9 on September 6, 2014, was hosted in honor of the reopening. Following this, on September 19th and 20th, Roberto Clemente Community Academy celebrated its 40th anniversary. The anniversary events included an open house, a symposium, and gala. The symposium featured presentations by prominent intellectuals and educators such as Dr. Stovall (University of Illinois-Chicago), Dr. Nilda Flores-Gonzalez (University of Illinois-Chicago), Dr. Orlando Hernández (Hostos College, New York), Dr. Jonathan Rosa (University of Massachusetts-Amherst), among others. The PRCC played an important role in this historic community celebration.

             During October and November, the PRCC, was active in commemorating the 40th Anniversary of 2 more immensely important organizations- the Latino(a)-Latin American Studies Program (LALS) of the University of Illinois at Chicago with an opening event held at the Mexican National Museum of Fine Arts and a closing event held at the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture- symbolizing the beginnings of the Pan-Latino solidarity that began in Chicago with the Mexican and Puerto Rican communities. In November, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center also co-sponsored the 40th Celebration of the Alternative Schools Network (ASN) at the Garfield Park Conservatory, which highlighted the work of that incredible organization - one that continues to service disenfranchised youth and communities. Also in November, and in partnership with the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture and Urban Theater, organized the "Jornada Centenario Julia de Burgos," which featured a performance of the play "Julia de Burgos: Child of Water," which opened with the play's author, Carmen Rivera; a series of readings for children by author Georgina Lazaro, from her book, Julia de Burgos, and an exhibit of images of Julia de Burgos.

            In terms of our programs, 2014 was also one of the growth and development (download report by Sandra Candelaria). A timeline prepared by the National Boricua Human Rights Network for an account of last year's efforts to free my brother, Oscar will be published in next weeks e-newsletter.

            This past year we have also confronted campaigns seeking to drive our community from the greater Humboldt Park community through the process of gentrification. An article that appeared in Chicago Magazine drew attention to some of our work to combat the racist displacement of our people. This article generated a major debate particularly among new residents, who, in some cases, have used a disguised racist discourse to legitimize their quest to erase the Puerto Rican community from this area. In this campaign, these gentrifying forces have tried to coopt the language of "community-building" and "self-determination" that we have used to address historical inequalities and marginality.

            This debate, in which I and the Puerto Rican Agenda were accused of reverse racism and separatism, represents the most recent manifestation of overt attacks on our community-the opposition to the Borinqueneers Veteran's Housing Development by Hispanic Housing. Our quick response and massive mobilization on Wednesday, September 17 sent a clear message that we as a community are willing to wage the good fight. We cannot tell anyone where to live. The flags that encase Paseo Boricua were erected as welcoming portals to anyone who wants to experience the Puerto Rican presence and persistence in this area for the past 60 years.

            We must continue to remind people about the origins of our community, how slum landlords benefitted from the misery of "La Division," profitting from arson, while pursuing a suburban life made possible due to "white flight." This "La Division" is where we have developed schools, created cultural projects, such as the Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, and founded our own faith-based initiatives, two of which demarcate the Paseo Boricua community-Rebaño Church with landholdings of nearly a city block and New Life, on the other side, with a landholding of five acres.

On Paseo Boricua, we have developed two aesthetically innovative affordable housing complexes, La Estancia and Teresa Roldan apartments, which caters to our community's elderly population. Additionally, Paseo Boricua boasts the greatest concentration of Puerto Rican restaurants and food services of any commercial strip in the United States. Moreover, an annual calendar of cultural events take place on Paseo Boricua sponsored by Puerto Rican organizations, such as the Three Kings Winter Festival, the Fiesta Patronales, the United Puerto Rican People's Day Parade, and Haunted Paseo Boricua. In addition, Paseo Boricua and its adjacent streets have one of the largest collections of public art in the city of Chicago, from dozens of murals to wrought iron banners of Puerto Rican images hanging on the light posts to nearly 60 painted planters, which are annually cultivated and maintained by the youth of the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School and Roberto Clemente High School.

During the past several years, the PRCC in partnership with dozens of community based and faith based institutions have begun to implement one of the most holistic educational reform processes anywhere in the country. The "Community as a Campus" initiative seeks to harness the social capital of the whole community with a well-planned vision that includes the creation of three institutes: a parent popular education institute; a youth leadership institute; and a teacher leadership institute. With the goal of aligning a vertical curriculum from preschool to college, this effort promotes a culture of educational excellence rooted the International Baccalaureate (IB) framework. Already, the impact of

this initiative is beginning to be felt. In 2015, Clemente will become an IB wall-to-wall school. Moos and de Diego elementary schools have already become IB candidate schools. Plans are being developed to transform Von Humboldt and Du Prey elementary schools into an educational center that has a teachers' village as its centerpiece, a development being undertaken in a partnership with the IFF and other partners. Additionally, the child-parent center of the old Von Humboldt School will be transformed into a preschool program, which will house the PRCC's Centro Infantil.


In short, the PRCC is continuing to invest in the development of an economically, culturally, and socially diverse community with a Puerto Rican accent. We hope to build a community that can serve as a microcosm for the city of the 21st century-a city in which linguistic, cultural, religious, ethnic, racial, and social and sexual difference are accepted and welcomed. It is within this context that I want to ask all of our friends and supporters to be vigilant, particularly as we near the upcoming election. There are elements that would like to use the election to further divide us. We cannot allow this to happen.

To conclude, I wish to make a personal appeal to each and everyone of you who believes in our work. I would like to ask for your support and participation in the following:


* Multiply your efforts to stave off the negative impacts of gentrification-buy on Paseo Boricua, invest in our community, rent in the area, purchase your future homes here, support our businesses. Help us make the Paseo Boricua Arts Building a reality. We have already purchased the old Ashland Sausage building with the help of Alderman Maldonado and Belmont Bank. We need to put together a comprehensive plan to make this come to fruition. Please join this effort!

  • Keep up your support for the international campaign to free Puerto Rican political prisoner, Oscar López Rivera. Even though we have built a powerful and impactful movement, we still need each and every one of you to help us get 100,000 petitions signed that demand that U.S. President Obama immediately release Oscar. The campaign is seeking to amass this number of petitions by May 29, 2015, which marks the 34th year of Oscar's imprisonment.
  • Become involved in our programs, such as El Rescate LGBT Independent Living Program, the National Boricua Human Rights Network, and the Greater Humboldt Park Community of Wellness. 
  • And most singularly, I want all of us to keep Dr. Steve Whitman's legacy alive by joining a special effort to support the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School (PACHS) and its greenhouse. PACHS has made great strides towards educational excellence and has maintained its deep-rooted commitment to our community. We need to raise $36,000 by May 19, 2015-Steve Whitman's birthday. Through the diligence of Nancy Kurshan, Steve's partner and member of the PACHS Board of Directors, and Dr. David Ansell, from the Rush Medical Center, $20,000 have already been raised. I have personally made a $1,000 donation, which I hope we can multiply. Every donation made to the high school is tax deductible.
May the New Year be filled with new visions, new hope, and new commitment to struggle for all that is just. 

100,000 Tweets for Oscar!
Social Media Campaign on Oscar López Rivera's Birthday January 6, 2015.
La Respuesta Magazine & National Boricua Human Rights Network

On January 6, 2015 La Respuesta magazine and National Boricua Human Rights Network (NBHRN) call on you to act on behalf of the Puerto Rican people's longest-held political prisoner. In honor of the man who has withstood thirty-three years in prison the campaign is called "Birth of a Patriot, Star of a Nation".

The worldwide campaign calls for 100,000 messages to the twitter accounts of the President, White House, and Justice Department on January 6, 2015, Oscar's birthday and the Day of the Epiphany/ Three Kings, the holiest day in his Puerto Rico homeland. We also call on participants to share "virtual gifts" in the form of photographs, videos, and writings on their social media pages in honor of Oscar's birthday.

Are you a poet? Artist? Photographer? Chef? Athlete? Dancer? Educator? Student? Health worker? Laborer? Mother? Father? Whatever you are or do, wherever you are, write a post, take a photo, record a video - dedicate a "virtual gift" to raising awareness and building support for Oscar López Rivera.

Post one of your poems, share a picture of your art or photography, cook and photograph a meal, run a few miles and write about it, record yourself dancing, take a selfie with a sign. Get creative and let the world know that you demand the release of Puerto Rican patriot Oscar López Rivera!

This January 6, 2015, on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, or any other platform you use, post using the hashtags #FreeOscarLopez and #Gift4Oscar(#RegaloPaOscar for Spanish-language messages). On Twitter, make sure to tag @BarackObama and @TheJusticeDept so that those with the power to release him hear our demands. We encourage you to begin planning your action to make sure we are all heard in unison on January 6.

Oscar, who was born on Three King's Day, has become the Puerto Rican nation's shining star, able to unite a people facing the divisive effects of a more than one-hundred year colonial occupation. Now, more than ever, the Puerto Rican people have come together in a way that presents U.S. President Barack Obama every reason to exercise his power of pardon and release Oscar. To learn more about Oscar and to read his original essays, visit:

Let's use social media for social change and send the clear message: RELEASE OSCAR NOW, 33 YEARS IS TOO MUCH!


For more info:;


Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School

When you do your Holiday shopping at AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Puerto Rican Cultural Center

Bookmark the link and support us every time you shop.

From Puerto Rican Cultural Center & Programs

Happy 3 Kings Day from Centro Infantil Corretjer Daycare!

Make it Your New Year's Resolution to Get Covered!

By Geniz Hernández Rosado, PRCC-ACA staff

We are excited to announce that, starting January 5th, 2015 through February 15, 2015, two of our certified In-Person Counselors will be at the Public Vehicle Facility-Business Affairs and Consumer Protection on 2350 West Ogden Avenue every Monday from 9am to 4pm. We hope to see you there and be able to help more and more Illinoisans find the coverage they need!


The Affordable Care Act Team wishes you and your family a Happy and Healthy 2015!


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Puerto Rican Cultural Center Safe Passage Program is Hiring!

by Ivan Vega | Safe Passage Supervisor

Looking for part-time work? The Safe Passage Community Watcher position provides a safe passage for students attending Roberto Clemente Community Academy and William Wells Community Academy.  


Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent and ability to pass crimianal background check to work with children.


To apply, please submit a resume to Ivan Vega at or apply is person at 2546 W. Division St., Chicago, IL 60622 | (773) 394-4935

On Sale Now

November Chicago Magazine "Why José López Stands Between Gentrification and Humboldt Park"

Be sure to pick up the November issue of Chicago Magazine, which features an interview by Puerto Rican Cultural Center ED José E. López conducted by Elly Fishman.

From Our Community Partners


It is my great pleasure to announce that Becker's Hospital Review has named Dr. Abha Agrawal to their  annual list of  "130 Women Hospital and Health System Leaders to know for 2014." 


There is no one more worthy to receive this prestigious award. The 130 women selected were chosen from across the nation and demonstrate outstanding management and leadership skills, including oversight of hospital operations, financial turnarounds and quality improvement initiatives within the hospital and healthcare industry. This is Dr. Agrawal's second consecutive year  being named to the Becker's Hospital Review list.


This award brings honor not only to Dr. Agrawal, but to Norwegian American Hospital of which she is such an illustrious representative.

Dr. Agrawal, please accept our warmest congratulations!


Campaign to Free Oscar López Rivera


FCI Terre Haute,  PO Box 33

Terre Haute, IN,  47808 

Promesa de Reyes por la excarcelación de Oscar López Rivera

Por Comité Pro Derechos Humanos de Puerto Rico

Mercedes López Rivera  y familia en coordinación con el Comité Pro Derechos Humanos de Puerto Rico invitan a todo el pueblo de Puerto Rico a la Promesa de Reyes por la Excarcelación de Oscar López Rivera  en la celebración de sus 72 años de edad.


Esta actividad de solidaridad con la lucha por la excarcelación de Oscar López Rivera está programada para el próximo domingo 4 de enero de 2015 a partir de la 12:30 de la tarde hasta las 5:00 de la tarde en el Coliseo Luis Aymat Cardona que está localizado en la carretera 111 del Municipio de San Sebastián, Puerto Rico.


Iniciaremos la actividad con un rosario cantado así como canciones y aguinaldos dedicados a Los Tres Santos Reyes y a Oscar López Rivera.


Oscar López Rivera nació en San Sebastián en el 1943. Cumple 72 años el 6 de enero de 2015 justamente el Día de los Reyes. Arrestado el 29 de mayo del 1981 y acusado de conspiración sediciosa, en el 2015 cumple 34 años de encarcelamiento de una sentencia de 70 años.


El Municipio Autónomo de San Sebastián y su Alcalde Hon. Javier Jiménez Pérez en su compromiso con la campaña por la excarcelación del Preso Político Oscar López Rivera, estará auspiciando esta Promesa de Reyes por la excarcelación de Oscar López Rivera.


¡La solidaridad es la ternura de los pueblos!



Clarisa López - (hija de Oscar López Rivera) 939-247-5959

Rita Zengotita - (Comité Organizador) 787-444-6603

Carlos Nieves - (Comité Organizador) 787-566-3338

Lic. Eduardo Villanueva: Comité Pro Derechos Humanos de Puerto Rico - 787-623-7840


The Cuban Five have returned!

"No vamos a dejar nuestra lucha por la liberacion de nuestro hermano Oscar. Todo el tiempo convencidas que su libertad estaba mas cerca que la de nuestros 5 Heroes pero confiamos con fe absoluta que muy pronto sera excarcelado y el Heroe Oscar Lopez Rivera pueda disfrutar las Navidades junto a sus seres queridos en la Patria que lo espera con ansias."


Las hermanas Gisela y Gilda López, baluartes de lucha por defender a Cuba

Chicago celebrates the Return of the Cuban 5, the Moves to End the US Travel Ban and US Blockade against Cuba - and Opposes US Sanctions on Venezuela

By Stan Smith, Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5


On Tuesday, December 23 at the Chicago Consulate of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela over 100 people turned out to celebrate Cuba's victory and to oppose the new sanctions on Venezuela. Let's not allow the US government to take its boot off the neck of Cuba, just to put it on Venezuela's. 

The freeing of the Cuban 5 was a great victory for Cuba and for all who defended Cuba over the last half century, and for those who fight to free all U.S. political prisoners. It was also a victory for all of Latin America, and we celebrate this defeat for the almost 55 year cruel policy of the US government against Cuban and Latin American self-determination.

We chose to celebrate at the Consulate of Venezuela in Chicago not just because of the Consulate's long support for Cuba, but to stand with Venezuela, now threatened by US sanctions. 

In attendance included members of the Venceremos Brigades, the Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5, the Chicago Cuba Coalition, Boricua Human Rights Network and supporters of Oscar Lopez Rivera, the All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party, and framed-up Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh and her supporters.

Of the three speakers, DePaul University's Felix Masud spoke about having been in a conference in Havana when the changes were announced and the remaining Cuban 5 came home. He explained that the changed US policy did not mean the US war against Cuba was ending, only that it was modifying its policy of regime change. He pointed to the sanctions on Venezuela as evidence the US aims in Latin America remain the same.

Gisela Lopez, long time Cuban activist, touched on some of the past support for Cuba, going back to the time she and her sister Gilda worked in Chicago's Fair Play for Cuba Committee and the Alianza de Trabajadores Cubanos. She thanked and congratulations to all those who fought for justice for her country,  including, besides those named above, the National Lawyers Guild, the Nation of Islam, Chicago Religious Leadership Network and Pastors for Peace. She gave particular thanks to the Consulate of Venezuela in Chicago, which she dubbed the "Cuban Consulate in Chicago" because of their active solidarity. Gisela ended by calling all to defend Venezuela and work for the freedom of Oscar Lopez Rivera.

Finally, Jesus Rodriguez, Consul General of Venezuela Consulate, spoke on the new US sanctions on Venezuela, it being the new target of the US, and how insulted Venezuela is by the hypocrisy of the US government's actions. He called on all to work to oppose this new US threat to Latin American self-determination.

  This was the largest gathering of Cuba solidarity activists in Chicago in years, and the largest event ever held at the Venezuelan Consulate, filling two rooms and spilling out into the hall.



A San Francisco Bay Area printmaker, Doug specializes in fund raising, outreach and educational posters. Past collaborations include work with ILWU, Rain Forest Action Network, SF Mime Troupe, ACLU, The Lawyers Guild, CISPES, United Auto Workers, Africa Information Network, Ecumenical Peace Union, ADAPT, Cop Watch, Street Sheet, and Veteran's for Peace. In the late 1980's Doug designed the poster for the Campaign to Shut Down the Lexington Women's Control Unit, led by the Network's predecessor, the National Committee to Free Puerto Rican Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War.


The above poster, printed in a limited edition of 75 by the artist, is silkscreened, in Spanish, measures 18x24, and is available for $125.00 plus shipping and handling.

Buy Your Holiday Gift Now and Support the Campaign to Free Oscar!

Email Alejandro Molina at or Diana Castillo at to reserve your copy.


Also available as a downloaded, hi-resolution, color graphic to print and post on your own!

Los Tequis

You Just Can't Hack It

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The site not only tells you if your personal info was leaked, but whether it's been pasted elsewhere online, what site it was stolen from, and what data - email addresses, passwords, password hints usernames, you name it - was compromised.

If you want to be kept up to date, the site can notify you if you get hacked.

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