CONVERSATORIO Strikes Key Discussions, Inspires Future Common Work on Future Issues
By Erika Abad, National Boricua Human Rights Network
On Saturday, April 25th, at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, NY, Puerto Ricans from New England and Chicago gathered to discuss the status of Puerto Ricans in the United States. Lawyers, activists, scholars each spoke on the United States' historic and current policies that affect how Puerto Ricans live, work and politically engage. The conversatorio indirectly asked the audience, given where Puerto Ricans are in the new millennium, what are the struggles that our communities still face; where will we take our political power and possibility given the historic policies that shape where we can live well and work?


Lawyer, former New York Assemblyman and former editor for New York's El Diario, Nelson Denis presented a summary of his book, War Against All Puerto Ricans. He summarized US policies implemented on their arrival in Puerto Rico such as the devaluing of the Puerto Rican peso (1900) and the Hollander Act (1901) shaped Puerto Ricans' disempowerment under US intervention and rule. Coupled with the hurricane of 1899, Puerto Ricans' relationship with capital, over a short period of time, was taken from them. Since then, according to Denis, Puerto Ricans' situation only grew worse.


Denis connected the details of key figures, such as Colonel Riggs, whose disregard and disrespect for Puerto Ricans' self-determination had undermined Puerto Ricans' determination to find avenues of resistance. Over time, when the nationalist power had grown to critical influence in Puerto Rico, Riggs used media to further construct narratives of their brutality against the state. The examples he used show the extent to which US selected leaders wanted nothing more than to repress Puerto Ricans political possibility to be self-determinant. The title of his book was born out of Riggs' response to Albizu's efforts to organize sugarcane workers against the repressive and exploitative conditions in which they worked. Riggs said, "Well if Albizu Campos continues organizing sugarcane workers, there will be a war to the death against all Puerto Ricans." A war, many will argue, continues in current economic policies in Puerto Rico as well as in the continued brutality Puerto Ricans face in prison.

Chicago activists with the National Boricua Human Rights Network used historic footage and personal narrative to engage the audience on how Puerto Rican political prisoners' struggles. Michelle Morales, involved in the organization since 2002, discussed the history of the Puerto Rican political prisoner campaign. She explains why the sedition sentence Puerto Rican political prisoners has been as weighted by the years they had and Oscar Lopez Rivera still suffers. She integrated how her own sense of self and her more critical understanding of US influence over Puerto Ricans was grounded in the years of mobilization, advocacy and education in which she participated since getting involved with the Network. She pulled from interviews done on prisoners' family members and supporters to show us how their example sparked dedication in human rights beyond Puerto Ricans. The work has been very personal for her, both in providing a deeper understanding of Puerto Ricans' resiliency and also in giving her a stronger relationship to Puerto Rican history, politics and community.

Katia Aviles, an activist from Proyecto ENLACE, talked about the black waters of Cano Martin Pena. Her presentation was as much about educating the audience regarding the harsh conditions in which those living in Cano Martin Pena endure as much as it was about informing us of the ways they are collectively organizing to address it. During her presentation, she showed us Agua Mala, a short documentary which reviews the historical development of communities around Caño Martin Pena and the neglect that shaped harsh living conditions of those residing there. The community living there formed in response to the higher cost of living and development of factory work in the 1950's. Since then, residents have struggled with living in an area poorly prepared for density and in an area whose pollution has been neglected by city and greater commonwealth government.


Activists, however, are refusing to accept governmental neglect. They are working in resistance to the neglect by working to build a land trust and by organizing environmentalist tours to continue to raise awareness of the environmental abuses people, wild life and fish suffer as a result of the neglect. Puerto Rican activists living and working the area are working in response to governmental neglect by pooling together their assets of time and commitment to address their needs and bring attention to their regions' plight using their own means.

These presentations, along with discussion by Luis O. Reyes from the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, on Puerto Ricans in the New Millenium, were summarized by respondent Jonathan Rosa, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who quoted Juan Flores' claim that diasporization needs to happen from below- how are we creating and sustain grassroots endeavors to work together to better address our communities' needs and bring ourselves justice.

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From Puerto Rican Cultural Center & Programs

Tax Season Special Enrollment Period Almost Over!

By Geniz Rosado, Affordable Care Act program, PRCC

Did you do your 2014 taxes and got fined for not having heath insurance in 2014? You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). Avoid the fine next year and get health insurance! One of our certified In-Person Counselors can help you enroll, but you have hurry, this SEP will be over on April 30th. 

Additionally, there are life changing events that may qualify you for other Special Enrollment Periods. Those events are as follows: 

  • Getting married 
  • Having a baby, adopting a child or placing a child for adoption or foster care 
  • Losing other health coverage 
  • Moving to a new residence 
  • Gaining citizenship or lawful presence in the U.S
  • Leaving incarceration

Call us to make an appointment or visit one of our offices; walk-ins are always welcome! 


Health Education at the 

Diabetes Empowerment Center Every Wednesday!

By Leony Calderón

Health Education Every Wednesday, from 12:00pm to 1:00pm.

Manage, Control and Prevent Diabetes.  Ask Doctors, Residents, Nutritionist, Pharmacist and Dietitian Your Pressing Health Questions.

Weekly Topics

  • *       Diabetes 101
  • *       Medication Education
  • *       Nutrition Class
  • *       Intro to Diabetes & How the Body Works
  • *       Protecting Your Eyes
  • *       Protecting Your Feet
  • *       Oral Health
  • *       Using The Glucose Meter & Meds
  • *       Heart Health Education
  • *       Physical Activity and Diabetes

Diabetes Empowerment Center, 2753 W. Division St. 773-342-0855

Free and Bilingual.


Educación de Salud todos los Miércoles de 12:00pm a 1:00pm

Manege, Controle y Prevenga la Diabetes. Haga Preguntas a los Médicos, Residentes, Nutricionistas, Farmacéuticos y Dietista Acerca de Su de Salud.

Temas Semanales

  • *       Diabetes 101
  • *       Educación Medicamentos
  • *       Clase de Nutrición
  • *       Introducción a la Diabetes y Cómo funciona el cuerpo
  • *       Proteja sus ojos
  • *       La protección de sus pies
  • *       Salud Oral
  • *       Uso del medidor de glucosa y Medicamentos
  • *       Educación para la Salud del Corazón
  • *       Actividad física y la diabetes 

Gratuito y Bilingüe.

Centro de Empoderamiento Contra la Diabetes, 2753 W. Division St. 773-342-0855


Job Opening at Puerto Rican Cultural Center



Organization: Puerto Rican Cultural Center

Job Title: In-Person Counselor (IPC) (Full-time, temporary position)


The Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC) is a non-profit organization founded in 1973 to serve the social and cultural needs of Chicago's underserved communities.


We are seeking bilingual (English and Spanish or other languages), motivated, and organized who are already certified or have an inactive In-Person Counselors (IPCs) license. IPCs will maintain expertise about the newly expanded Medicaid program and the Health Insurance Marketplace that are part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The IPCs will provide information and services in a fair, accurate, and impartial manner to the community members. Additionally, IPCs will be comfortable as public speakers and conduct activities to facilitate enrollment in health coverage.



  • Seeking Certified IPC - or IPC with inactive license
  • Bilingual (English and Spanish)
Availability to work during non-traditional hours, including limited evening and weekend hours, and throughout the different seasons under Chicago weather conditions. Download the full description and contact info here.

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.

Puerto Rican Cultural Center Calendar of Community Events

Tues. May 19th Naming of Dr. Steve Whitman Greenhouse at Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School. (Time TBA)


Fri. May 29th Event commemorating Oscar López Rivera's 34 yr. Anniversary of his arrest, La Casita de Don Pedro & Doña Lolita, 2625 W. Division St.


Sat May 30th NY Rally for Oscar Lopez Rivera's 34 yr. anniversary of his arrest (leaving Chicago on Fri May 29th)


SAVE THE FOLLOWING DATES * 2015 Puerto Rican Cultural Center * Annual Events

Puerto Rican People's Parade                    22nd Fiesta Boricua "De Bandera a Bandera"

Sat June 20, 2015                                        Sept 5 - 6, 2015 * 12pm - 8:30pm

Starting 2PM-Division/Western                Honoring: Cayey, Puerto Rico, Orlando, Florida


Haunted Paseo Boricua, Sat Oct 31, 2015 
Los Tequis


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This has all kinds of cool applications. For example, if you're presenting something that changes over time, like a GitHub repo or Twitter feed, you won't need to update the deck to keep it current. You can even sync Bunkr with slide decks on other services, like 


  • From Our Community Partners


    students LEARN TO LEAD!

    By Matt Rodríguez, Principal, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School

    At Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School, students LEARN TO LEAD! In this picture, Junior classman Efren Morales addresses the entire school at our weekly assembly called Unity for Social Analysis. He is practicing his public speaking skills as he describes why he thinks he was nominated for the Definite Dozen Award. 


    Captivating the student body with his well articulated speech, Mr. Morales described not only why he thinks he was nominated, but shared a little about his struggles, his background and made a call to action, "...if I can do it, with all that I struggle with, SO CAN YOU!" Every month, Albizu Campos recognizes a group of 12 students for embodying an important characteristic that is tied to the school's mission and vision. The school would like to congratulate this month's Definite Dozen and challenge any and all other students to RISE TO THE CHALLENGE!

     Sagrada Familia: A Poetry Celebration of Mother's Day

    The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (NMPRAC) presents, SAGRADA FAMILIA, the newest book by author Johanny Vázquez Paz

    CHICAGO, Illinois (Humboldt Park) - The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (NMPRAC) is pleased to present the book, Sagrada Familia, by author Johanny Vázquez Paz on Friday, May 8, 2015 at 6 pm. The meet and greet will include the reading of various poems by the Puerto Rican Poet who resides in Chicago.Sagrada Familia is a finalist in the International Latino Book Awards.


    This captivating poetry book celebrates the Puerto Rican family, especially the mother and woman as the matriarchs of the family and guides of spiritual and moral lessons inside the household. The book was published by the Puerto Rican publisher, Isla Negra Editores, and was selected by the Puerto Rican newspaper, El Nuevo Día, among the most memorable books of the year 2014. José Borges, literary critic of El Nuevo Día, wrote: "Sagrada Familia, written by Johanny Vázquez Paz, is a poetry book in which the author pays tribute to her familyin an honest and touching way, and where she criticizes, analyzes and even praises ... two of the most sacred institutions, the family and religion, from a Puerto Rican point of view." A selection of poems included in Sagrada Familia received the first prize of the Consenso Short Story and Poetry Contest of Northeastern Illinois University in 2012. The book is divided in six sections, the first five with original poems written in Spanish, and the last one with two original poems written in Spanglish and ten poems from the book that were translated into English by the author.


    "As the only Puerto Rican museum outside of Puerto Rico, we are very excited to present a poetry book written by one of our own. Don't miss Johanny as she pays tribute to the Puerto Rican Family as only she can, an expression full of deep thoughts and emotions", stated Billy Ocasio, CEO of NMPRAC.


    Given the proximity of Mother's Day, we invite everyone to join us with your family. The museum doors will open at 6:00 p.m. and the reading will start at 7:00 p.m. This event is free of charge.


    DATE:  May 8, 2015

    TIME:  6pm

    Location: The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture

    3015 W. Division Street, Chicago, IL 60622



    Roberto Clemente JROTC Cadets had a very busy weekend March 28-29.

    By Captain Barbara Jimenez-Soriano, Communications Officer


    On Saturday morning, 24 JROTC Cadets awoke before the sunrise on a cool and crisp morning to participate in the first Orienteering Meet of the Spring season. Orienteering is a team event that combines map-reading skills, land navigation, and cross-country running. Competitors make their way through unfamiliar terrain using a compass and a topographical map, to locate pre-determined points.

    Our formation was at 7 a.m, with 24 cadets. Battalion Commander Niambi Smith and Orienteering Team Captain Victor Fuentes ensured participants were properly dressed for the chilly weather and that all of our equipment was ready to load on the bus.   Shortly after 7:30 we loaded the school bus for the 20 mile trip south of the city, to the Arie Crown Forest Preserve. Since Clemente is the hosting school for CPS JROTC Orienteering events, we arrived early to set up the start and finish lines, registration points and lane assignments. 150 cadets from 9 schools participated in a very successful land navigation training.   SFC Lewis had spent Friday afternoon setting up multiple points throughout the orienteering field. He arrived about 6:00am Saturday morning, to make final checks, that all of the points were in place, and ensure the training area was safe.  The meet began right on time, at 9:00am. After all the teams returned from searching for their points, at about 12:00am, we celebrated with a picnic. Niambi and 3rd year cadet Jorge Salgado made sure the hot dogs were grilled, chips, snacks and drinks were prepared and served.   New friends from other schools were made. Friendly competitions involving spades, foot races, Frisbee and "Ninja" were enjoyed by all.

    The following morning 30 cadets, about half of whom had participated in the Orienteering meet, returned to the school, to prepare for the Annual Chicago Greek Day Parade. Dressed in their cadet blue uniforms, gray berets and black overcoats they proudly and professionally braved 40 mile per hour gusty winds and chilly 40 degree temperatures, over the 2 mile route parade route through Greektown.   The first year cadet color guard led their first parade "standing tall and looking good, marching through the neighborhood!" Chief Silver ensured the cadets had a good meal before the parade, hosting lunch at Lou Malnati's Pizza!

    Dr. Raquel Ortiz, Author, "Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural" Keynote Speaker at 20th Annual Hispanic Leadership Conference
    By Brayan Contreras

    The 20th Annual Hispanic Leadership Conference held at Lorain County Community College was a two-day event (April 25th and 26th) attended by over 500 people. The theme, "Abriendo Puertas/ Opening Doors" was a call to action about issues that affect the Hispanic community.


    The key note talk by Dr. Ortiz, The Power of Our Stories, explored narratives such as songs, oral storytelling traditions, movies, T.V. programs, dance, performances and works of art that, when we listen to or look at them, they can also share with us a story. She explained how stories are very important in the process of enculturation and that the stories we read, tell, hear or watch shape what we believe or accept as our culture.


    She highlighted that some of the dangers of us not telling our own stories may be misinformation being disseminated, stereotypes being reinforced, loosing our true, real stories to be replaced by 'white-washed' versions of our stories and that distorted or negative images about us may be perpetuated.


    Based on data is from the Cooperative Children's Book Center School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison (CCBC), as of February, 2015

    in 2014 approximately 5,000 children's books were published in the U.S.. Out of the 5,000 only 125 were either by Latinos or about Latinos. There were only 59 children's books written by and about Latinos and 66 children's books written about Latinos. This means the number of books that other people wrote about us beat the number of books Latinos wrote about themselves.


    Also in 2014 of the 5,000 books only 264 were either by or about African Americans. 84 of these children's books were written by and about African Americans and 180 were about African Americans. There were 96 more books written about African Americans than by and about African Americans.


    Dr. Ortiz presented her children's book Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural/ Sofi y el mágico

    mural musical and shared information about her upcoming children's book, Planting Flags, a story set in Chicago's Humbolt Park neighborhood.


    Also, at the conference the artist Maria Dominguez worked with local high school students to create a mural of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It was an intergenerational project where young adults, working with an elder, created art to commemorate and celebrate a Latino story.

    The Campaign to Free Oscar López Rivera has 

    its own e-newsletter- The Water's Edge/La Orilla del Mar

    Published every two weeks- next issue will be published 4-20-2015

    View past issues here.


    WRITE TO OSCAR LOPEZ, #87651-024

    FCI Terre Haute,  PO Box 33

    Terre Haute, IN,  47808 

    Transportation leaving from 10 cities in Midwest and East Coast.
    For more info:

    Puerto Rican Cultural Center
    o. 773/342-8023 f. 773/342-6609

    "Live and Help to Live"