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Puerto Rican Agenda hosts historic convening to influence 2016 presidential election 
by the Puerto Rican Agenda

Chicago, IL - On Friday, March 4, 2016 at 7:00 p.m., the Puerto Rican Agenda and ASPIRA will host a forum with Puerto Rican elected officials on Puerto Rico's current fiscal and humanitarian crisis. The forum, to be held at ASPIRA Finance and Business High School (2989 N. Milwaukee Ave.), will be headlined by Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez. 

This event represents the first time Puerto Rican elected leadership-along with leaders of the local Puerto Rican community-will publicly come together to discuss the following issues in the context of the 2016 presidential election. 

Forum issues to be addressed include: 
1. Coordinating efforts to address the fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico by holding the United States government accountable; 

2. Intensifying the offensive campaign to free Oscar López Rivera; 

3. Promoting and unifying efforts for an aggressive campaign to increase registration and improve education targeting Puerto Rican voters; and 

4. Discussing coordination of inside/outside efforts during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 25-28, 2016. 

In addition, the forum will feature a scholarly presentation from Dr. Edwin Melendez, Director of Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York City. 
This community forum builds upon a series of events organized to establish a national Puerto Rican agenda. Previous events were held in Orlando, Florida, and Washington, D.C. during the last quarter of 2015. The Chicago forum, and similar events to be organized throughout the country, will culminate in a National Puerto Rican Diaspora Summit coinciding with the 2016 Democratic National Convention. 

The more than five million Puerto Ricans living on the United States mainland can play a pivotal role in the 2016 presidential election. Puerto Ricans now constitute a significant proportion of the electorate in three swing states: Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Furthermore, Puerto Rican voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois could contribute to Democrats regaining control of the Senate. 

Your presence and participation in this dialogue is crucial for advancing the next steps related to the topics above. Space is limited! Register by tomorrow, Thursday, March 3, 2016 here.
Sentida nota de duelo
Gerardo Ramírez, 11-03-1939 a 02-26-2016
El centro cultural puertorriqueño, la red boricua pro-derechos humanos y la escuela superior puertorriqueña Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, envian sus condolencias a la familia Ramírez Romero por el sensible fallecimiento de quien en vida fue Gerardo Ramírez. Nos unimos en su aflicción con nuestro más emotivo pésame a su esposa Micaela García; sus hijos Lourdes, Gerardo, Adrian, Maritza y José Ramírez; y demás familiares. 
With Deepest Sympathies
The Puerto Rican Cultural Center family sends our thoughts and prayers to Daisy and Betsy Jiménez on their loss of their mother.
The loss is unbearable but the memories are sweet.  We share your pain and sorrow and we are there for you.  May the lovely soul rest blissfully in the gardens of heaven.
We wish to have words to lighten your agony but sometimes words are just no enough.  Please accept our deepest condolences on your loss.
Amalia Jiménez Vélez, mother of Daisy and Betsy Jiménez was born on October 27th, 1931 and passed away on March 2nd, 2016. 
As well, we send Daisy our warmest hugs and wishes.  May you regain your strength and feel better soon. Wishing you to get well soon. 
"Planting Flags on Division Street" NOW ON SALE!
Profits on every copy sold to benefit the Campaign to Free Oscar

Planting Flags on Division Street is a 32-page bilingual picture book for children ages 4+. The title alludes to our hopes to share a simple story of a little girl missing her grandfather that spotlights aspects of our culture as it tells the story of political prisoner Oscar Lopez. It is more important than ever to tell stories that highlight the culture, family and struggle that bring us together as Puerto Ricans. The struggle for Puerto Rican freedom is ongoing, we should never forget the struggle or the men and women who have given and continue to give everything for our freedom. BUY YOUR COPY NOW AND SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGN.

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.

National Puerto Rican Agenda
A Newsletter documenting the Puerto Rican Stateside Response to the Fiscal and Humanitarian Crisis
Innovative community land trust from Puerto Rico wins 2015-16 UN World Habitat Award
The Fideicomiso de la Tierra del Caño Martín Peña will receive the award at UN Habitat III in October
San Juan, Puerto Rico - The Fideicomiso de la Tierra del Caño Martín Peña, a community land trust from the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, won the 2015-16 UN World Habitat Award, which honors innovative and replicable initiatives that address issues affecting human settlements.  The Award will be received during the third UN Habitat global summit, which takes place every 20 years. 
"We are proud to obtain this honor for Puerto Rico as an acknowledgement of what can be accomplished through ample citizen participation and community work towards a common vision for better living conditions," said Carmen L. Febres-Alméstica, president of the grassroots Group of the Eight Communities Adjacent to the Martín Peña Channel (G-8), Inc., and member of the land trust's board.
"With the support of partners and collaborators, the communities along the Martín Peña channel designed an innovative tool to prevent gentrification as an unintended consequence of urban and environmental restoration projects, while addressing the lack of formal land titles through collective ownership," María E. Hernández Torrales, the Fideicomiso's board president, explained.  "These communities have placed Puerto Rico once again as a reference point in housing innovation."
The Fideicomiso de la Tierra is the first community land trust in Puerto Rico, created by the residents of densely populated communities along a highly polluted tidal channel located at the heart of the San Juan Metropolitan Area, as a tool to overcome poverty and achieve environmental justice.  The channel's obstruction leads to constant flooding with polluted waters affecting the health and safety of thousands, and its ecosystem restoration is being led by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Corporación del Proyecto ENLACE.  Land Trust members collectively own 200 acres of valuable land, while also owning surface rights to the plot of land where their homes are located.
The World Habitat Awards were established in 1985 by the Building and Social Housing Foundation as part of its contribution to the United Nations.  Two awards of £10,000 are given annually to projects that provide practical and innovative solutions to current housing needs and problems.
Leilani Fahra, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing explained: "The project tackles a number of core elements for the right to housing such as ensuring security of tenure for those living in informal settlements, community participation and protection of land.  It recognizes housing is a human right rather than a commodity.  Women are community leaders, and the project ensures them title to properties."
David Ireland, BSHF executive director, added: "The empowerment of these communities is outstanding.  They have used a Community Land Trust to turn the threat of displacement of an informal settlement into something very special - a strong-and flourishing neighborhood in which everybody is engaged.  It is arguably one of the most democratic places on earth."  BSHF coordinates the awards for the United Nations.
In November, 2015, a team of evaluators from the Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) based in the United Kingdom, visited the Caño Martín Peña communities and met with residents, community leaders, collaborators, and representatives from the G-8, the Fideicomiso and the Corporación del Proyecto ENLACE del Caño Martín Peña, which leads the implementation of the comprehensive development plan for the area.
The jury was comprised by Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat and Leilani Fahra, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing.  This year's finalists were from Brazil, Colombia, Bhutan, Malawi, and the United Kingdom.
"We expect that this award will help us consolidate support in Puerto Rico and abroad for our land trust, and help us obtain the resources needed to ecologically restore the Caño and finally be able to live in healthy conditions," concluded Febres-Alméstica.
For further details, visit and

Inside the Billion-Dollar Battle for Puerto Rico's Future
The impoverished island turned to hedge funds to stave off collapse. Now someone has to pay.
The money poured in by the millions, then by the hundreds of millions, and finally by the billions. Over weak coffee in a conference room in Midtown Manhattan last year, a half-dozen Puerto Rican officials exhaled: Their cash-starved island had persuaded some of the country's biggest hedge funds to lend them more than $3 billion to keep the government afloat.
There were plenty of reasons for the hedge funds to like the deal: They would be earning, in effect, a 20 percent return. And under the island's Constitution, Puerto Rico was required to pay back its debt before almost any other bills, whether for retirees' health care or teachers' salaries.
But within months, Puerto Rico was saying it had run out of money, and the relationship between the impoverished United States territory and its unlikely saviors fell apart, setting up an extraordinary political and financial fight over Puerto Rico's future.
On the surface, it is a battle over whether Puerto Rico should be granted bankruptcy protections, putting at risk tens of billions of dollars from investors around the country. But it is also testing the power of an ascendant class of ultrarich Americans to steer the fate of a territory that is home to more than three million fellow citizens.

Visit us at for an updated list of articles on the Puerto Rican fiscal crisis

From Puerto Rican Cultural Center & Programs

Nutrition and Exercise for our Childcare Children!
by Jacqueline Tovar, Centro Infantil Corretjer

At Centro Infantil it is very important to talk about nutrition and excersice. All four groups exercise every day for thirty minutes. We eat healthy in our daycare and talk to our students about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables and exercise.
El Rescate chosen to participate in Digital Storage Immersion program
by Jackie Gonzalez, Director, El Rescate

El Rescate Transitional Living Program & Basic Center Program  is proud in participating in an initiative of the Digital Storage Immersion pilot program, sponsored by the Chicago Youth  Storage Initiative Organization. This pilot program allows our youth  the ability to have quick, simple, easy access and a safe storage to their  personal documents, records   and /or Employment applications as well as simplifying our  youth outreach efforts. As part of the  Digital Storage Immersion pitot program, we were presented with various Tablets and Keyboards to assist achieving  both of our programs mission statements. Mission being  El Rescate Transitional Living Program is to provide identity -affirming  housing to homeless  LGBTQ youth ages consisting of 18 to 24. Some being HIV- positive and to provide support services to assist with their transition to independence.  &  Basic Center Program goal is to expand services that address the immediate needs of Latinos and African American youth 12 to 18 years of age living in Chicago Metropolitan who are identify as LGBTQ and have run away from their home or are homeless.
What is Move for Life?
by Leony Calderón, Muévete
Move for Life!  is an annual one day community-driven outdoor event to kick-off the Spring/Summer physical activity seasons. Move for Life! has three primary objectives:
1) to promote and support an active lifestyle;
2) to showcase the community's free and or low cost physical activity programming; and
3) to foster ongoing collaboration and networking amongst these groups.
Move for Life! brings together the community to plan the event over a three month period, features community organizations, programs, individuals as well as cultural activities and entertainment. Move for Life! This year will be on Saturday, April 2, 2016, 12 noon to 4:00 p.m. inside Humboldt Park at the southeast corner near Division and California.

If your organization or program would like to take part in showcasing  call or email for a registration form, 773-342-0855,

Volunteer opportunities available, community service hours and enrichment hours students
Community Calendar

February-March 2016

January 22-February 28, 2016, FRI-Sat: 8pm Sun: 6pm
Aguijon Theater presents Epopeya
2707 N. Laramie Ave., Chicago, IL 60639
Tickets: $25, 2x $45

February 9-March 13, 2016 Thrs-Sat: 8pm Sun: 3pm
Urban Theater presents Adoration of the Old Woman
2620 W. Division St.
Tickets: Pre-sale: $15, Walk-up $20, Students: $12

Download the Calendar 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.

Los Tequis
5 steps to take if your Google Apps account login leaks
When login information leaks, you need to act fast. Here's how to revoke access, remove devices, and reset your password.
When your Google Apps account password leaks, the battle begins to minimize data loss and regain control of the account.
Unfortunately, you can't undo a password leak-once it's out, it's out. You must assume your account data can be exposed. Work through the following steps with your Google Apps account administrator to recover from an account login leak.

1. Alert an Admin
As soon as you identify a potential password leak, let your Google Apps administrator know. But, don't email your admin from your hacked account. If your account info has been breached, any information you send may also be available to people with your password.

Instead, talk, text, or call to let the admin know. If you call, go to a private location. Don't place the call as you sit in a coffee shop or hotel lobby.
When you make the call, be ready to provide as much information as possible. Let the administrator know:
  • The date and time that the password loss occurred (if you know).
  • The devices (e.g. laptop, phone, tablet make and model) and locations (e.g. work, home, client site, etc.) where you recently accessed Google Apps
The Campaign to Free Oscar López Rivera has its own 
e-newsletter: The Water's Edge/La Orilla del Mar
Published approximately every two weeks
View past issues here.

Write to Oscar:
Oscar López Rivera, #87651
FCI Terre Haute
PO Box 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808
34 Mujeres for Oscar Chicago Soars at the Eagle in Logan Square
by Diana Castillo, National Boricua Human Rights Network
Under the Logan Square Eagle, nearly 50 people gathered with the 34 Mujeres for Oscar Chicago to rally for the release of the last Puerto Rican political prisoner--Oscar Lopez Rivera. 
With the location changing from the Division/Milwaukee/Ashland intersection (where 34 Mujeres for Oscar had met for the last 6 months) to the Eagle, there was much anticipation. In the midst of a rapidly gentrified Logan Square, it was refreshing to see many Puerto Ricans and other latin@s transiting in that area. 

As people began to gather and greet one another, the sunny day seemed to have given the 34 Mujeres for Oscar collective a sense of renewed energy and hope that was carried throughout the 34 minutes the gathering lasts. Whereas, women and children chanted holding Puerto Rican flags and signs, male supporters gathered petitions and distributed literature to passersby. while the event was happening It was special and inspirational to see  people show their support by beeping their horns, giving the thumbs up, and once in a while by someone yelling out of their car window... WEPA! 34 Mujeres for Oscar will be back at the Eagle in Logan Square for the next 2 months. The gathering lasts 34 minutes for the 34 years Oscar has been imprisoned. Oscar Lopez Rivera has taken a stand for his country, his community, his people; come stand in support for his release on March 26th at 3:00pm and make your voice be heard. Check out our Flickr album!
Puerto Rican independence supporters rally in Times Square to free man imprisoned for 34 years

Supporters behind a movement for Puerto Rican independence rallied in Manhattan Sunday, urging President Obama to free a prisoner who has been in jail nearly half his life over the issue.
Nearly two dozen protesters demonstrated in Times Square for 34 minutes, one minute for every year that Oscar LópezRivera has been in jail.
López Rivera, 73, was convicted and sentenced to 55 years in federal prison for seditious conspiracy, conspiring to oppose U.S. authority over Puerto Rico by force.
He was also accused of being a member of the FALN, the Armed Forces of National Liberation, which claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings to call attention to the colonial case of Puerto Rico.
"What they've done to him is wrong," said protester, Rosario Vera, 62. "He been there for 34 years now and soon to be 35 years. It's basically putting a muzzle on the independence movement in Puerto Rico. His life was basically cut short.
Verdejo le rinde homenaje a Oscar López
por Carlos Muñoz, Centro Cultural Puertorriqueño Juan Antonio Corretjer
Félix "El Diamante" Verdejo (20-0, 14 nocauts) consiguió una victoria sobre William Silva (23-1, 14 nocauts) en el choque de invictos la noche del sábado 27 de Febrero, 2016 en el Teatro del Madison Square Garden. El combate pautado para diez asaltos terminó con una clara puntuación a favor de Verdejo, el cual ganó el combate por decisión unánime. 99-91 leían las tarjetas de los jueces. Luego de esta victoria, Verdejo aumenta su record a 20-0 con 14 nocauts. El boricua también logra defender exitosamente por tercera ocasión su título y posiblemente enfile sus cañones a una oportunidad titular. Verdejo luego de su pelea lució una camiseta con el mensaje "Free Oscar López"  reiterando de esta forma su apoyo a la campaña por la liberación del prisionero político puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera. Verdejo ya ha usado la camiseta en combates anteriores, camiseta creada por el artista gráfico y muralista puertorriqueño radicado en Filadelfia, Hector 'Danny' Torres. 
"Es un verdadero placer que me hagan entrega de ese humilde obsequio. Estoy contento, agradecido y me uno de verdad a estas personas que quieren que saquen al nuestro (López Rivera) de la prisión. Me uno no por los colores políticos, sino porque ya hay que hacer una justicia", dijo Verdejo tras recibir la camiseta de manos de Torres, líder local a favor de la campaña de liberación.
Can Bread And Puppet's Play Get Obama To Pardon A Jailed Puerto Rican Activist?

When Vermont's Bread and Puppet Theater brought its show "The Seditious Conspiracy Theater Presents: A Monument to the Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera" to New York's Theater for the New City last December, a woman arrived at the opening night with a letter from Lopez Rivera himself and read it aloud to the crowd before the show.
"I would like to thank the members of the Bread and Puppet Theater for its solidarity with the campaign for my excarceration," Lopez Rivera wrote. "I'm extremely grateful for the support you're giving me and for all the support you have given to just and noble causes. ... Puerto Ricans, who have struggled for the independence and sovereignty of our beloved homeland, have a good appreciation of how important compassion and solidarity are to keep the spirits strong and hopes alive especially when we have had to face oppression, criminalization and imprisonment. I believe no one should accept colonialism no matter where it exists or who practices it, because it's a crime against humanity."
"We weren't anticipating it," puppeteer Joe Therrien says. "That was incredible. We were all just backstage. ... It felt really personal to me."

Bread and Puppet Theater, which was founded by Peter Schumann in New York in 1963, is known for its tradition of distributing fresh baked bread free to audiences at the end of performances; its monumental, mythic papier-mâché puppets; and its participation in street protests against the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, American torture. The company was also one of the landmark New York experimental theaters of the 1960s-and continues to elaborate its signature blend of vanguard performance, expressionist dance and folk pageantry.
"Peter has said the point [of this show] is to bring enough attention to it that [President] Obama will pardon him before he gets out of office," Therrien says. "We didn't expect to hear from him [Lopez Rivera]."
3rd National Meeting to Free Oscar in full force ahead from East to West Coasts
by Ana M. López, NYC Coordinator to Free Oscar López
Be like a "pebble in the shoe" and "business is not as usual" were the comments heard and what described the intensity of our discussion in the 3rd National Meeting to Free Oscar López Rivera on January 30th, 2016.  "Extreme urgency" is the call to secure Oscar's release this year and the development of a strategy for the next 11 months.  After postponing the national meeting the week before due to the 30 inch snow blizzard that struck the East coast, we regrouped and a good number of persons attended this meeting held in the heart of the South Bronx. There was representation of 10 cities from East to West coasts and Midwest and East coast. We had a long agenda and fruitful discussion and brainstorming session about what we needed to do to "Bring Oscar López Rivera Home, at last!

At the National meeting we stared with a general discussion and an overview of the great accomplishments of the campaign to free Oscar, thus far. The narrative on Oscar from being completely an isolated issue and "invisible" to a popular one (hero, nationalist leader, independence fighter, political prisoner, etc.) not only in Puerto Rico, Latin American and international arenas, but reaching USA mainstream. The year 2015 accomplished the changing of the narrative on Oscar Lopez Rivera in New York City and neutralizing the right wing forces.  This was accomplished against all odds and propelled the visibility of his release on a humanitarian level bringing together on many fronts: labor, faith community, student populations, community organizations and elected officials (as never before) with unity "One Voice for Oscar".

The campaign to free Oscar has expanded to other areas and has been amplified at a grass root level in all Puerto Rican and Latino communities. It has taken stronghold in New Jersey, parts of Massachusetts and big time in Florida.
We discussed the importance of the next 11 months in augmenting work and political pressure. What do we need to do to bring Oscar home?

 The work areas to be expanded to Free Oscar:
* 34 womenX Oscar exist already in Puerto Rico, New York City, Chicago and Boston. Expand the 34 women vigils to other cities like Newark, Philadelphia, Connecticut and Florida.we have verbal commitment from  Newark and Philadelphia.
* International Day of Solidarity with Oscar and Puerto Rico- mass mobilization in New York for June 20th, 2016 during Decolonization Committee hearings on Puerto Rico in the United Nations; all cities will mobilize contingents to NYC; and 35 countries around the world. New York will be responsible for organizing mobilization,
Summary of Agreements reached:
* Do last petition drive and collect all from February to June, 2016 (goal 100,000 petitions -already have 50,000). Submit petition to the White House with a delegation by July 1, 2016;
* Develop 34 women groups in other cities like: Newark, Philadelphia, Connecticut and Florida;
* International Day of Solidarity with Oscar and Puerto Rico- mass mobilization in New York for June 20th, 2016 during Decolonization Committee hearings on Puerto Rico in the United Nations; all cities will mobilize contingents to NYC; and 35 countries around the world;
* Develop local activities in different cities for May 29, 2016- 35year of Oscar's imprisonment;
* Mobilize contingents from different cities to support the Newark Puerto Rican Parade dedicated to Oscar Lopez Rivera;
* Contingent mobilizations to Philadelphia for National Democratic convention- July 25th, 2016;
* Online petition sign up campaign to get 100,000 signatures during  Hispanic Heritage Celebrations- September 15- October, 14, 2016;
* Tweet campaign before Thanksgiving # Free Oscar Lopez Rivera

From Our Community Partners

Free  Asthma Community 
Health Worker (CHW) training
The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Erie Family Health Center will be conducting a free  asthma community health worker (CHW) training March 3-4th, 8-5pm both days. This training will be at UIC. The training will cover the pathophysiology of asthma, triggers, medications, and how to help families make change. Participants that complete the training are eligible for a stipend and a job as a CHW with Erie. For more information on the Erie position, click here.
If you want to attend the training or would like more information, contact:
Andrea Fragoso
Asthma Intervention Coordinator
Erie Family Health Center
1701 West Superior Street, 3rd Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60622

Puerto Rican Cultural Center
o. 773/342-8023 f. 773/913-0706

"Live and Help to Live"