34 countries, 17 states represented

"100,000 Tweets for Oscar" Campaign Reaches over 500,000 people
By La Respuesta Media and National Boricua Human Rights Network

Over 500,000 people were reached on January 6, 2015, Oscar's 72nd birthday, as the National Boricua Human Rights Network and La Respuesta coordinated the "Social Media Campaign for Oscar López." Using various hashtags (e.g. #freeoscarlopez, #gift4oscar, #regalopaoscar) on Twitter primarily, but also Facebook and Instagram, the campaign publicly brought together a broad spectrum of supporters, from Calle 13's René Pérez to actor Luis Guzmán; from NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito to Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, from blogs like Latino Rebels to newspapers like El Nuevo Día.



Elected city and state elected officials from three different states also supported the social media campaign: State Representative Leslie Acosta and Philadelphia Councilwoman Maria Quiñonez in Pennsylvania; Chicago Alderman Roberto Maldonado, and State Representative Cynthia Soto in Illinois. Organized labor contributed: 1199 and Labor Council For Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)'s Facebook page also carried the message.


In Puerto Rico, the campaign was tweeted and posted on Twitter and sometimes Facebook by former governor Aníbal Acevedo Vila; the Puerto Rico Department of Labor; pro-independence organizations, including the Movimiento Pro-Independencia Nacional Hostosiano; and the committees working for Oscar's freedom: the Human Rights Committee of Puerto Rico and 32x0scar.


Popular blogs/newspapers also mentioned the campaign in the days leading up to January 6. Thanks go out to Latino Rebels, 80Grados, El Nuevo Día online, Telesur, and Primera Hora, as well as the German online blog "Derstandard," the Japanese "AppleDaily," and Mexico's APIAvirtual.net.


Activist and movement-based organizations such as Jericho Network, Leonard Peltier Support Committee, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Committee, and Irish and Palestine support committees also posted to Facebook and Twitter.


Community-based and educational organizations that also contributed are: El Puente in Brooklyn, Taller Puertorriqueño in Philadelphia, Roberto Clemente Community Academy, The Puerto Rican Cultural Center and Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School. Tweets came from IN, NY, CA, HI, OH, FL, CT, TN, MD, MN, GA, WDC, MI, MA, RI, PA, and IL.


The international community was present with Tweets from 34 countries: Malaysia, Austria, Romania, Peru, Panama, Sri Lanka, Australia, Turkey, Portugal, Kosovo, Uruguay, Lebanon, Ghana, Netherlands, Israel, Brazil, Guatemala, Algeria, Spain, Venezuela, Canada, Dominican Republic, Argentina, United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Romania, Morocco, Mexico, Chile, India, France, Ecuador, Italy, Puerto Rico, and the United States.


Many people also participated in creative by highlighting their talents such as writing songs, sewing puppets, baking cakes, and producing original artwork as their 'gift' for Oscar.


La Respuesta and the Network would like to thank everyone for this amazing act of solidarity and faith, a small step on the long road to Oscar's freedom.


We will free Oscar!


Dorian Ortega and Andre Lee Muñiz, La Respuesta Media

Alejandro Luis Molina, National Boricua Human Rights Network 

Ald. Maldonado, Ald. Suarez. Ald. Reyboyras join

Community 3 Kings Days Celebration
By PRCC Staff

Despite the inclement weather hundred of youth, ages 0-12, received gifts on January 6, 2015 in two locations in the greater Humboldt Park Community: in the gym at Roberto Clemente Academy and in the Field House of Humboldt Park. As the kids arrived, volunteers served them hot chocolate and cookies, donated by Clemente High School; and the Clemente School Steel Band delighted them with holiday music.  A short program was held, starting at the Roberto Clemente's gym, where Aldermen Roberto Maldonado, Ray Suarez and Ariel Reyboyras, as well the principal, Marcey Sorensen, spoke to the audience.  Jose E Lopez, Executive director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, addressed the meaning of the 3 Kings in the Puerto Rican and Latin American context. Several Members of the Latin American Motocycles Asociation (L.A.M.A.) also spoke about their contribution to the celebration. The members of L.A.M.A., under the leadership of Toys for Tots, annually collect the toys which are distributed during the 3 Kings days in Humboldt Park. Following the program, hundreds of youngsters received gifts from the 3 Kings of L.A.M.A.


Members of L.A.M.A. and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center then moved to the Humboldt Park Field House where the same program was held.


A pesar de las inclemencias del tiempo, cientos de jóvenes, entre las edades de 0 - 12, recibieron regalos el 6 de enero de 2015 en dos localidades de la  comunidad de Humboldt Park: en el gimnasio de la Academia Roberto Clemente.


Y en la Casa de Campo de Humboldt Park. Según llegaban los niños, voluntarios les sirvieron chocolate caliente y galletas donadas por la escuela superior Roberto Clemente al son de la música navideña de la Banda de Percusión  de la Escuela  Clemente.  Se llevó a cabo un breve programa, comenzando en el gimnacio de la escuela Roberto Clemente, donde los concejales Roberto Maldonado, Ray Suarez and Ariel Reyboyras, tanto como la principal, Marcey Sorensen, hablaron a la audiencia.  José E López, director ejecutivo de Centro Cultural Puertorriqueño, se dirijió a la audiencia para exponer el significado de los 3 Reyes Magos en el contexto de Puerto Rico y Latinoamérica.  Varios miembros de la Asociación Latinoaméricana de Motocicletas (L.A.M.A. por sus siglas en inglés) también platicaron sobre su contribución en la celebración. Los miembros del  L.A.M.A., bajo el liderato de Toys for Tots, anualmente recolectan juguetes para la distribución durante la celebracion del día de los 3 Reyes Magos en Humboldt Park.  Siguiendo el programa, cientos de jóvenes recibieron regalos de los 3 Reyes Magos miembros del L.A.M.A.

Varios miembros del Centro Cultural Puertorriqueño y del L.A.M.A. se movilizaron a la Casa de Campo del Humboldt Park donde otra extensión del mismo programa se llevo a cabo. 

Message from PRCC Executive Director

José E. López (corrected)

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). The National Boricua Human Rights Network published a highlight of last year's efforts to free my brother, Oscar, is below.

            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. 


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 http://smile.amazon.com/ch/23-7347778 and support us every time you shop.

From Puerto Rican Cultural Center & Programs

El Rescate Fundraiser Grows Sense of "Family"
By Zenaida López, El Rescate Staff
There is certain vulnerability with LGBT youth and the complex needs of this population, but 3 years ago El Rescate Independent Living Program opened its doors to address some of those needs. As the first LGBT program of its kind in the Midwest and working with a limited budget it's doors opened. There were some obstacles to overcome but as the program moved forward from its infancy, El Rescate has been getting a lot of attention and recognition for the work it does. It  also has become the focal point for many caring individuals such as Norman Bustamante who has stepped up to celebrate and acknowledge these youth. Norman, together with a group of friends held a fundraiser for the residents of El Rescate. As Christmas was approaching, they felt it was the perfect time to celebrate the holidays together with the youth of El Rescate. to show them that people cared.

The fundraiser was held on December 18th at Antronio's Bar in Berwyn Illinois, a Gay bar that caters to the Latino gay community of Berwyn/cicero. Norman also made arrangements to a have a Limo pick up all the residents at El Rescate, take them to Antronio's and drive the youth back home. This service was made possible by Jose Urbina from Demarco Limousine service. He made sure that they had a great time in the limo as well as making sure they got home safely.

Upon arriving at Antronio's all the residents were greeted with a Buffet of delicious food, desserts and non-alcoholic beverages provided by the bar. Later that evening, Drag Queens and other performers put on fantastic show in honor of El Rescate. Following the performances several residents shared their testimonials and expressed their gratitude for all that was provided for them that evening. There were boxes upon boxes of clothing, toiletries, bedding, food, and winter gear collected by Norman and given to the residents. The party when on to the wee hours of the morning as the residents danced, shot some pool, and mingled with the others in attendance. They were very excited and appreciative for all that was provided for them that evening. One resident, looking very pensive and  emotional stated that although he has no family tonight he embraced and accepted all the residents and staff as his family. Program Director Jackie Gonzalez personally thanked all involved and was humbled by the kindness of all.

Upcoming Events at CVS!

By Geniz Hernández Rosado, PRCC-ACA staff

The Puerto Rican Cultural Center's Affordable Care Act Program would like to extend an invitation to the general public to come to our upcoming health fair event and education events at different CVS Phamacy locations. 


CVS Project Health, the health fair, will take place in Friday, January 9, 2015 from 2:00pm to 6:00pm at 1550 N. Kostner Ave. If you are uninsured or if you need more information for you or your relatives, stop by and speak with one of our In-Person Counselors!


Additionally, starting this Friday, January 9, 2015 and until Saturday, January 31st, 2015, there will be two In-Person Counselors in different CVS Pharmacies across Chicago. They will be at 3311 N Pulaski Rd, 3411 W Addison St, and 3940 W Fullerton Ave, Fridays from 3:30pm to 6:30pm and Saturdays from 12m to 4pm. Come by and learn more about your options!


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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 ivanv@prcc-chgo.org 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

Campaign to Free Oscar López Rivera


FCI Terre Haute,  PO Box 33

Terre Haute, IN,  47808 

Campaign to Free Oscar: 2014 in Highlights


* Oscar marks his 71st birthday, and writes to his daughter Clarisa: "I feel very comfortable with my life and in my skin. I know I chose to serve the most just and noble cause that a Puerto Rican citizen could serve. My years in prison are only the occupational hazard that the struggle costs. But I was conscious of what awaited me, because the women and men who had chosen to serve the same cause and who had been imprisoned had allowed me to see what awaited me. From them I learned that I could survive, no matter how great the challenge."1


* Congressman Alan Grayson writes to President Obama.2 seeking Oscar's release: "I am constantly approached regarding the imprisonment of Oscar López-Rivera. My constituents, a significant number of Puerto Ricans, and political leaders from all three major political parties in Puerto Rico are pleading for his release. Mr. López-Rivera's 71st birthday is in four days, on Three Kings Day, or 'Día de Reyes' as it is known in Puerto Rico. I can think of no greater gift to him, his family, and the Puerto Rican community than his freedom and allowing him to return home on this important holiday,"


* Puerto Rican Independence Party Senator María de Lourdes Santiago and Juan Dalmau visit Oscar. "An emotional visit, equally inspiring, which has had the effect of reaffirming our commitment to the struggle for independence, which is a struggle for love," the senator expressed.3


* President of the Puerto Rican Senate, Eduardo Bhatia of the Popular Democratic Party, calls for Oscar's release. "The people of Puerto Rico, regardless of party lines, thought and politics, are all in agreement that Oscar López must be released."4


* Puerto Rico's main daily newspaper, El Nuevo Día, continues its series Las manos en el cristal, letters from Oscar to his granddaughter Karina.5 The series appears regularly in the newspaper throughout 2014. (Please send us any events we may have missed.). Read them here. 





5See, e.g., http://www.elnuevodia.com/cartadeoscarlopezriveraasunietakarina-1696982.html.


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 alejandrom@boricuahumanrights.org or Diana Castillo at dianac@boricuahumanrights.org to reserve your copy.


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

Los Tequis

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