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Deepest Condolences
February 1942* Liliana Garcia
March 2016
The Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School and National Boricua Human Rights Network extend their deepest condolences to Jessie Fuentes, community activist and 11th Grade Dean at Roberto Clemente Community Academy, on the passing of her grandmother, Liliana Garcia.
by Hannah Rank, Medill Reports Chicago

A quiet chatter filled the cafeteria of Aspira Business and Finance High School on Friday night. Loved ones and old friends greeted one another heartily. On a vaulted stage positioned on the other end of the room sat a group of seven chairs lined up in two rows. The chairs began to fill slowly.
Hannah Rank_MEDILL
First a professor from Hunter College, then two top administrators of the the high school took a seat. Then the 30th ward alderman, Ariel Reboyras, positioned himself in the front right chair. On the other end of the row sat the up-and-coming 35th ward alderman, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who after less than a year in the City Council has already 
made quite a splash. Finally, State Senator Iris Martinez of the 20th district and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-4th)  entered. Once the elected leaders had settled on the stage, Jose Lopez, leader of the Puerto Rican Agenda, the organization hosting Friday's event, motioned for the attendees to take their seats.
The crowd had a familiar comfort. But this was no casual get-together; Illinois' pre-eminent Puerto Rican leaders don't often gather publicly in the same room. The topic of discussion: Puerto Rico, their "tierra." It's in serious debt, and they've come to galvanize support and discuss solutions.
"Tonight is the first time Puerto Rican elected leadership, along with leaders from the local Puerto Rican Community are publicly coming together to discuss these concerns," Cristina Pacione-Zayas, the co-chair of the Puerto Rican Agenda, said in her introduction. "This presidential election is very critical, and we really have a grand opportunity to put these issues on the map and to really do something for our community."
First to speak was Edwin Melendez, director of The Center for Puerto Rican studies at Hunter College. He explained the scale and implications of the current debt crisis plaguing the island.
"Because we are in junk bond territory - there is no value to the debt that Puerto Rico has access to - the most recent administration cannot borrow any money," Melendez said. "So, the fight right now is that we need some kind of territorial bankruptcy to protect the commonwealth and the corporations from the debt that they have to pay."
Right now, because Puerto Rico is not a state, under U.S. law the island's municipalities may not file for bankruptcy protections.
Melendez said nearly half of Puerto Ricans on the island are living in poverty.
"Because of that, we have an unprecedented migration to the U.S. All our communities are receiving newcomers," he said. Melendez noted that one state receiving new Puerto Ricans is Pennsylvania, poised to be a swing state in the elections.
Join Us! March 25th 12-3pm
Congress & Michigan Ave

"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
Cumbre en Nueva York sobre la crisis fiscal de Puerto Rico
Convoca el Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños
por José Delgado, El Nuevo Día

WASHINGTON- El Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños del Hunter College auspiciará en Nueva York los días 22 y 23 de abril una nueva cumbre sobre la crisis fiscal de la isla, que incluirá la participación de sectores de la diáspora boricua e incluso del Tesoro federal.
"Es una conversación de la diáspora", indicó hoy el director ejecutivo del Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños, Edwin Meléndez.

El evento reunirá a sectores políticos, gubernamentales, académicos y comunitarios.
La cumbre puede coincidir con el debate en el Congreso sobre un proyecto de ley dirigido a tratar de mitigar la crisis fiscal y de deuda pública de Puerto Rico.
"El rol nuestro es recoger la data y proveer una base de investigación", sostuvo Meléndez.
"Solo viéndonos como una sola entidad, podemos progresar como pueblo", indicó el congresista demócrata Luis Gutiérrez (Illinois), quien está en la sesión junto a sus colegas Nydia Gutiérrez (Nueva York) y José Serrano (Nueva York).
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

PRCC Honors Juan Antonio Corretjer's Birthday with 100x35+8 Open House
by Michael Kurshan-Emmer

Thursday March 3, 2016 was the date of the 100x35+8 Puerto Rican Cultural Center's open house celebration of Juan Antonio Corretjer's birthday. Juan Antonio Corretjer, the national poet of Puerto Rico, who wrote the poem "Boricua En La Luna", would have been 108 years old this year.  100 x 35 represents the length and width of the dimensions of the island of Puerto Rico, while the 8 represents the number of years the PRCC has celebrated the birthday of Juan Antonio Corretjer in this manner.
       The open house, attended by almost 100 participants, began with a mix of university students from Northeastern Illinois University, Columbia College Chicago, Associated Colleges of the Midwest, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, all gathering at El Rescate, the transitional living program of the PRCC, which provides identity-affirming housing to homeless LGBTQ youth. At El Rescate, executive director of the PRCC José E. Lopez spoke to the crowd about the award-winning work done in the community by the staff at El Rescate. Visit for more information.
       After the conversation at El Rescate with Professor Lopez, the 100x35+8 open house tour of Paseo Boricua continued with a tour of the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School (PACHS). Principal Danette Sokacich spoke to the participants of the open house about her own journey at Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School as well as about topics such as drop out rates for Puerto Rican high school students in Chicago, putting into practice restorative justice techniques, and much more.  At this time the open house continued with the unveiling of Oscar Lopez-Rivera's painting of Chicago activists and PACHS supporters Steven Whitman and Nancy Kurshan, which he painted at the United States Penitentiary at Terre Haute. The painting was unveiled in the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos high school's greenhouse, which was named after Steven Whitman in memoriam, and where the painting will be kept on display. Oscar Lopez-Rivera, who was one of the co-founders of the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High school, as well as many other important programs and initiatives serving the Puerto Rican Community in Humboldt Park, is currently the longest held Puerto Rican political prisoner in the history of the United States. Visit for more information on his life and activism and help to free Oscar Lopez-Rivera now!
After attending the unveiling of the painting in the greenhouse of the PACHS, the participants of the open house were treated to a delicious meal of Puerto Rican food provided by Nellies Puerto Rican restaurant located in the heart of Paseo Boricua on Division Street. Everyone was then invited to the newly renovated space at Batey Urbano, which houses the Urban Theatre Company in its tenth anniversary season. The participants were treated to a free showing of the currently running play, Adoration of the Old Woman, written by renowned Puerto Rican playwright José Rivera. The PRCC's 100x35+8 open house events concluded with this moving performance, and by the end many audience members were in tears. For more information on the current run of Adoration of the Old Woman or for tickets go online to
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
Where to Locate and Download 
Google Form Add-ons
It's easy to find Chrome extensions, but what about Google Form Add-ons? Here's a quick video to help you locate Google Form Add-ons and begin downloading them.
  • Create a new Google Form, or go to a Google Form you've already created.
  • Once you're in Google Forms, click the More menu in the top right corner. Select Add-ons.
  • A new window will appear where the Add-ons are listed. You can hover over each add-on to get a preview of what they do. To download an add-on, just click the "+ FREE" icon.
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
Pre St. Patrick's Day Celebration for Campaign to 
Free Oscar Lopez 
"They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn't want to be broken." -Bobby Sands

"I want you to know that it doesn't matter what the jailers do to me or if they lock me in a hole without light and access to anything. They will never be able to break my spirit.Oscar López Rivera

Join us on Pre St. Patrick's Day Celebration, Wednesday,  March 16, 2016 to support the campaign to Free Oscar Lopez. Happy hour 4:30pm-5:30, food and drinks for sale. Cash, checks, Credit and debit cards accepted. Wear green and get a surprise!
The Retributive Incarceration of Oscar López Rivera

Oscar López Rivera is a political prisoner who at 74 years of age has served 34 years in American prisons, 12 of them in consecutive solitary confinement, because of his ideas. Sentenced to 55 years for seditious conspiracy in 1981 and an additional 15 years for conspiracy to escape in 1987, López Rivera has never been convicted of a violent act.
His only idea, overarching as it is, is the independence of Puerto Rico. His continued incarceration today, as the nation ponders the ills of disproportionate criminal sentencing, can only be justified by gross punishment and retribution.
Why else keep a 74 year old man whose release is supported by Nobel Peace Prize recipients Desmond TutuRigoberta Menchu and Mairead Maguire, among thousands of others, behind bars for this long? Punishment - that enduring characteristic of American exceptionalism, plain and simple -- is the only justification.

For our sake, President Barack Obama, please release him. Now.
Holyoke, MA City Council committee to debate Oscar López Rivera resolution April 4

HOLYOKE -- Oscar Lopez Rivera sits in an Indiana prison and one of the largest trade agreements in the world awaits action in Washington D.C., and movement is pending on both at Holyoke City Hall.
The City Council Development and Government Relations Committee Monday decided it will debate two resolutions on April 4. One urges President Barack Obama to grant the unconditional release from federal prison of López Rivera, 73, who is considered a political prisoner by some and a terrorist by others.
Mi nombre es Amarilis Torres y mi mensaje lo llevó hasta el fin del mundo. Libertad por Óscar!
por Amarillis Torres

Mi nombre es Amarilis Torres Carrasquillo , nací el 30 de Octubre de 1981. Tengo actualmente 34 años, los mismos años que tengo de vida son los mismos años que vida que lleva Oscar López ,en la carcel. Mi papá el Dr. Timoteo Torres Santiago, desde que tengo uso de razón nos habló de Oscar López, no hablo de la historia de nuestra Pais, desde la llegada de los españoles , hasta la invasión Americana (USA). El no enseño como mi madre amar nuestra isla , sus tierras , su historia y aprender de las personas que la han defendido y la han protegido.
En el transcurso de mi vida he tenido la dicha de representar a mi país por el Deporte de Polo Acuático, como jugadora de Alto Rendimiento y como entrenadora de la selección juvenil femenina de Polo Acuatico. Este deporte me enseñó a ver el mundo desde otra perspectiva, a dar a conocer mi pequeña isla por el mundo y a defenderla hasta el final. Tengo un Bachillerato en Educación en Arte de la Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPI), las Arte a cambio del deporte me han sensibilizado mi perspectiva del ver el mundo  , de ver mi isla y mi gente, de respetar nuestro legado cultura ...Nuestra historia.

  El año pasado me comprometí hacer un viaje sola por América del Sur, para hacerme un regalo de mi cumpleaños #34. Bueno digo sola, pero me encontré por el camino a gente hermosa que compartíamos algo en común...viajar solo y conocer de diferentes culturas. El viaje recorrí países como Bolivia, Chile y Argentina. Mis sueño era ir a Bolivia y conocer en vivo y a todo color el Salar de Uyuni. El Salar de Uyuni, es la reserva más grande y importante de sal del mundo. También es la reserva más grande de lithium en el mundo, en fin, es el lugar más mágico y maravilloso que he ido en mi vida. Llore, brinque, salte, baile...que no hice, de todo como en Botica.
En esa experiencia me acompañó un camarada que quizás nunca ha ido al Salar de Uyuni y creo que no ha ido a Bolivia, pero en ese momento me acompañó, se dio a conocer entre una masa de extraños , todos preguntaba quién era el y yo le conté lo que conozco desde que tengo uso de razón y mas... Como dije al principio los mismo a los que tengo de vida, son los mismo años que él lleva en la carcel, les confieso yo fui el y el fui yo. Y a viva voz grite OBAMA FREE OSCAR LÓPEZ!!! LiBERTAD PARA OSCAR!!!

Gracias a ustedes por la perseverancia y la dedicación, seguiré viajando y seguiré llevando mi mensaje profundo y contundente.
Un Patriota Encarcelado que Tenemos Que Sacar
34 Women for Oscar March 26 Rally

34 Mujeres X Oscar Chicago has changed their rallying location for March and April. We are meeting at the Logan Square Eagle to continue raising consciousness around the campaign to free Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera.

34 Mujeres X Oscar Chicago is a group of women who gather every month for 34 minutes to raise awareness around the incarceration of Oscar López Rivera. We rally for 34 minutes to signify the 34 years Oscar has been imprisoned. We gather in solidarity with women in Boston, New York City and Puerto Rico who also rally once a month for 34 minutes.

This year is extremely critical for Oscar's campaign as the political climate in the U.S. can shift once President Obama leaves office. Join this effort and meet us at 3:00pm on Saturday, March 26 in a 34-minute action to raise awareness and increase the momentum surrounding his case for liberation. Men are more than welcome to join us. Help is needed in distributing literature and collecting petitions.

Oscar López Rivera is a Humboldt Park native with deep roots in many of the community organizations and university programs that he helped organize or found, that still exist today. While among us, he dedicated his life to fighting injustices around affordable housing and community development. He is one of the founders of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School as well as the Puerto Rican Cultural Center; organizations that have been established for over 40 years. Internationally, in the US and Puerto Rico, many activists, elected officials, Nobel Laureates and celebrities have called on Pres. Obama for his immediate release. 

When: Saturday, March 26 at 3:00pm to 3:34pm
Where: Logan Square Eagle at Milwaukee and Kedzie
Directions: Blue Line - Logan Square stop

Firmes mujeres en su lucha por el indulto de Oscar López Rivera
por InterNewsService

Evidenciando su consistencia en su lucha, un grupo de mujeres se reunió hoy una vez más para exigir la excarcelación del puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera, el prisionero político más antiguo del hemisferio con 34 años de encierro en cárceles de Estados Unidos, 12 de ellos en solitaria.
En esa muestra de firmeza por el objetivo de que el presidente de Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, otorgue un indulto a López Rivera, las mujeres llegaron al puente Dos Hermanos en la entrada de de la Isleta de San Juan para participar de la manifestación.
Consignas como "en lucha y resistencia, Oscar volverá a su tierra" y "este puente nos espera hasta que Oscar esté afuera" eran entonadas por las presentes que vistieron camisetas rosa intenso y pañuelos azules, portando también carteles para exigir la salida de la cárcel del puertorriqueño de 73 años.

La protesta contó con la participación de la abogada de López Rivera, Jane Susler, quien dijo a las mujeres que "ustedes son unas héroes para él, son unas Amazonas, a cualquier visita él les habla de ustedes".

Además llegaron la hija del preso político, Clarisa López Ramos, y el hermano, José López.
La actividad en el Puente Dos Hermanos terminó a las 4:34 de la tarde, tras 34 minutos que simbolizan los 34 años que lleva preso, cuando cerraron con la entonación de la Borinqueña Revolucionaria frente al océano.

Las mujeres se reúnen el último domingo de cada mes, hace más de dos años, para pedir un indulto al presidente Obama, ya que es la única opción que resta para que López Rivera pueda salir en libertad tras ser condenado a 70 años de prisión por conspiración sediciosa, delito de carácter político.

Una manifestación similar se realiza de forma simultánea en Nueva York, Chicago y otra recientemente comenzó en Florida.

From Our Community Partners

The American Alliance of Museums Visits 
The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture 
To Deliver The Pledge of Excellence 
Another Step Towards National Accreditation

by Billy Ocasio, Executive Director, National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture

On Thursday, March 3, 2016 The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (NMPRAC) was honored by the presence of Laura Lott, President and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).

Since opening it's doors in 2014 as a National Museum, NMPRAC has been preparing for national accreditation. Working on it's collection, hiring of staff, preparing documentation, archiving, etc.

Last Thursday this step was taken to a much higher level as the museum was honored to have Ms. Laura Lott deliver the Pledge of Excellence to the Board of NMPRAC. The first time a ceremony has been held for this purpose. 

This step states in it's pledge that, "in fulfillment of our educational mission, we will strive to operate according to national standards and best practices to the best of our abilities and in accordance with our resources. 

Ms. Laura Lott stated, "The American Alliance of Museums welcomes NMPRAC to our family of over 4,000 museums. I was thrilled to celebrate the Board's signing of the museum's Pledge of Excellence Thursday night. With this Pledge, the museum takes an important first step in becoming accredited and nationally recognized as a professional museum operating with the highest standards of excellence in the field." 

"We are excited to reach this important milestone. The Board, staff, volunteers and community members have long envisioned this as the place to immerse yourself in the warmth of Puerto Rican culture and traditions. Today we stand among the best company that museums have to offer, The American Alliance of Museums", stated Billy Ocasio, CEO of NMPRAC. 
The Latin American Recruitment and Educational Services Program (LARES) 
Celebrates 40 Years at the Forefront of Higher Education
by Hugo Teruel, Director, LARES
Over the past 40 years, the Latin American Recruitment and Educational Services Program (LARES) has been a think tank for Latinos in higher education at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Operating on a mission of innovation, activism, and leadership has produced alum that have gone on to be great contributors to our community. Throughout the years LARES has been instrumental in not only making sure that the doors of opportunity for Latino students are open at UIC, but that students are successful in finishing their college degree.  Students that come through our doors see LARES as a home away from home, a space where cultural, emotional, and social ills that Latino students face are understood, navigated through and surmounted. LARES has always provided that sense of belonging to students and challenge students to their maximum potential.
The LARES 40th Anniversary Summit that was held on March 7th with UIC students, faculty, staff, community partners, and external institutions reinforced the mission and vision that LARES embodies. The Summit panel recounted the historical importance and legacy that the LARES program has left on many individuals, our community and the university. Notable presenters at the Summit included UIC Chancellor, Dr. Michael Amiridis; Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia; Congressman Luis Gutierrez; Dr. Leonard Ramirez, Former Director of LARES; Ada Lopez, Former University of Illinois Board of Trustee, Jose Lopez, Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, and Deborah Santiago of Exelencia in Education. Each presenter recognized the tremendous critical and intentional efforts and services that LARES has provided throughout the years in the areas of recruitment, admission, academic advising, and retention of Latinos at UIC.
As we move forward, LARES will continue to develop strategies that are effective to Latino students and continue to collaborate with internal and external partners to foster successes for Latino students. On Thursday, March 31, The LARES 40th Anniversary Celebration will take place at CARNIVALE on at 702 W. Fulton Street.  For more information contact LARES at (312) 996-3356.
"Dystopia, language, and perception in The Handmaid's Tale"
by Luis Salgado, Roberto Clemente Community Academy
This week students have been identifying and analyzing neologisms and appropriated words in Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale. Juniors in Mr. Connor's English-3 class have been hard at work analyzing dystopian societies to consider how we ought to organize our communities. Dystopian literature features authoritarian governments and sci-fi elements to make readers consider their own societies. As an IB-aligned curriculum, students sharpen inquiry and critical thinking skills while reflecting on their own lives.
The Handmaid's Tale follows a woman in the dystopian Republic of Gilead. The totalitarian government attempts to control its citizens through fear, military threat, and even language itself by coining new words and changing the definition of others.
To trace how the Republic of Gilead used language to maintain power, students learned the key vocabulary terms neologism and appropriation. Students began by analyzing the roots of both words and identifying similar words. A neologism is a newly created word. An appropriated word is one used by a group in a new way.  Students identified slang terms as neologisms and taught them to the class. Then, students considered how the word "queer" was re-appropriated by LGBTQ communities as a term of strength.
Students then divided into groups and worked collaboratively to identify possible words in the text. Students quickly found that there were many words that they were unfamiliar with. Rather than become frustrated, students exemplified how IB students are knowledgabe by fluidly teaching each other vocabulary. After identifying a number of neologisms and appropriated words, students analyzed the implications as a class-recognizing the extent to which the government controls the perception of its citizens through strategic word choice. Students will put this knowledge into practice by making their own propaganda in the weeks to come.
Only four performance remain! Join UTC's Benefit Performance Closing Bash this Sunday, March 13. Doors open at 2pm for the final performance of "Adoration of the Old Woman" by José Rivera. There will be musical performances before and after the show as well as a delicious home cooked Puerto Rican meal by UTC's executive director's (Ivan Vega) mother, known as Mama Vega. Beer + Wine included. Don't miss out!

Get your tickets/info visit -

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

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