Podcast

George Torres, the Urban Jibaro from #NYC

This week we talk to George Torres, to discuss his activism and his community work in Puerto Rico. George is truly an amazing community activist. He shares interesting stories around identity, in the way that Hurricane Maria brought a shift in how Boricuas in Puerto Rico view Boricuas in the US. We also talk about protecting our food supplies, food sustainability, water sovereignty, mental health, and many other issues affecting the people of Boriken.

By using his platform to raise up the issues affecting Puerto Rico, he is showing up for PR. He hopes that by helping to provide opportunities, and bridging people that are helping in the recovery, then we can work to build a better future for PR.

Using a frame of capacity building, George is hoping that he can support a true #JustRecovery for Puerto Rico… one in which Boricuas themselves get to choose their future.

His Advice to the Diaspora: Use your skills and experience to Help Puerto Rico and Adopt a town that needs your support. And importantly: Don’t colonize the recovery efforts by imposing your thoughts or beliefs for how things should go.

If you’re interested in collaborating with him in his work, please reach out to him on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook via @UrbanJibaro

The articles mentioned at the start of the episode can be found below:

  1. Donations found 11 months after they were sent to PR:
  2. Puerto Rico Government acknowledges new death count:

Podcast

A Puerto Rican Healthcare Tech Company #AbartysHealth

In this week’s episode I interview two amazing women in Puerto Rico who started a Healthcare Tech company called Abartys Health … and about the impact of Hurricane Maria on the accessibility of healthcare data. Thank you Dolmarie Mendez and Lauren Casio for spending time with me!

We chat about some really interesting topics such as patient outcomes, data accessibility, health portability, access to provider networks and data quality.

However we also talk about what it means to be a woman in this industry and the “thick skin” that needs to be cultivated in order to push through negativity and bias. While we’re all working to end bias in our society, their message of using the negative to “create a better product” was inspiring. I’m excited to see them grow and look forward to hearing more from them in the future!

At the start of the episode, I also share the following news/articles for the Diaspora – please read and share:

Podcast

Melissa M Viverito on why Boricua Votes Matter

This week’s interview is very exciting because I got to talk to Melissa M Viverito who was Speaker of the New York City council and now is working on many exciting projects for Puerto Rico and Latinos.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico and a fierce defender of the island, she talks about using her platform to raise awareness, and initiate action in government so that we can elevate the voices of the Puerto Ricans on the island.

We talk about the work she’s doing with the Latino Victory Fund, to increase Latino Representation in government and I immediately signed up to help on 2 campaigns in MA. It is so important to realize how our representation is needed and makes a difference.

Check out the Politico Article on the Latino Victory Fund here

We also about the important work with Power4PuertoRico:

#Power4PuertoRico is a coalition of organizations, leaders, and advocates from across the nation working together to address the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria through advocacy, strategic communications, and direct mobilization. We are calling on Congress and the Administration to adopt an ambitious, new agenda that will put Puerto Rico’s economy on the road to future growth and prosperity. We are building lasting power for Puerto Rico and the diaspora.

She also provides a scathing criticism on the way that the federal and local governments have addressed the needs of Puerto Ricans which I found really eloquent and important for all Americans to hear.

I’m proud of Melissa and her advocacy- and hope she inspires others to raise their voice for Puerto Rico too and get involved. We have a lot of work to do!

Articles mentioned in this podcast can be found below:

Te Conozco Bacalao aunque Vengas Disfrazao- Phillip Arroyo Opinion Piece: https://www.univision.com/noticias/opinion/te-conozco-bacalao-aunque-vengas-disfrazao

The Washington Post Article about Boricuas in Florida registering to Vote:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2018/07/27/daily-202-puerto-ricans-who-fled-to-florida-after-hurricane-maria-are-not-registering-to-vote/5b5a82a61b326b0207955dcb/?utm_term=.8aad5876b6ea

Podcast

What Does It Mean to be Free in Puerto Rico?

My American friends are shocked that the status of Puerto Rico is a controversial topic among the residents of Puerto Rico.

“But of course Puerto Rico should be a state – they should join our American Family” and

“It’s an injustice that Puerto Rico is treated differently, they should have the same rights as every other citizen in the US”

Even Puerto Ricans say that the dialogue is done – because the people of Puerto Rico voted for statehood. But the 97% in favor of statehood were only 20% of the population that went out to vote. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/11/us/puerto-ricans-vote-on-the-question-of-statehood.html?_r=0

Other referendums have also been split but have left most on the island feeling disillusioned because in the end … nothing happens in Congress.

As communities in Puerto Rico continue to lead the recovery and the discussion on how colonialism has affected them, we are all asking ourselves what the decolonization of Puerto Rico looks like…

What does it mean to be free in Puerto Rico?

This week we discuss the need for a Social Movement, one that’s non-partisan, and one that fully addresses what colonialism is and how it affects the psyche of Puerto Ricans. Efrain Vasquez Vera joins us to talk about their movement called MAP: Puerto Rican Movement in Action (Movimiento de Accion Puertorriquena). This is the first conversation I’ve had and hope to have many more with others on the island.

We need these perspectives to shine light not just on what needs to be done to decolonize, but also how to focus and elevate the voices Puerto Ricans… rather than impose our views on the island in the way that takes away their ability to self-determination.

Recently – there was a video released of the crypto-millionnaire’s meeting with locals on the island and the most impactful piece was that they stated that locals will have to accept them whether they like it or not, because it’s for their best interest.

Puerto Ricans have heard this again and again. The naked discrimination of that phrase shows us that even today… Puerto Ricans are being told they cannot choose for themselves.

This is a critical public health issue because colonialism created the high poverty rates we see in Puerto Rico.

Colonialism is really a macro-determinant of health, and it’s been a ignored far too long. And unless we stand behind Puerto Ricans- demanding that they be provided a forum to decolonize by negotiating the incredibly discriminatory policies that affect them, and vote in a fair and unbiased way… Puerto Ricans will continue to be colonized, de-humanized and stripped of their dignity.

So I ask every American… Puerto Ricans have been waiting 120 years for you to start this dialogue… don’t let them down.

Let’s pay attention to the ways that we can help bring about a true #JustRecovery and find the real meaning of #SocialJustice.

 

Podcast

Shocking story: FEMA denies existence of property

This story was not easy to recount, so I have to thank my guest Noris for sharing a difficult conversation about her mom’s application to FEMA.

It all began with a search bar, where Noris typed out but could not find her mother’s property on FEMA’s map. Reeling from the aftermath of the Hurricane and immediate needs of her mother who is diabetic, she eventually gave up trying to convince the skeptical FEMA officials on the phone that she was NOT trying to scam them.

There are stories of property titles not being provided with the application – and FEMA rejected those claims, but in this case – Noris could not even submit the claim for her mother. Every aspect of the FEMA response has been horrific to us in the Diaspora but even more so for the many who live with leaking roofs and children that wonder why the lights haven’t come on. NBC recently covered FEMA’s denial of applications and the Washington Post covered FEMA admitting failure in Puerto Rico. 

This isn’t a story with a happy ending… but it is the story of a people that know we have to fight to be heard. Please share this story and follow the movement to decolonize Puerto Rico, and right a wrong that spans centuries. Next Monday, we share more on the movement.

Let’s tell the world that we deserve to be treated equally, not because of a citizenship that was imposed in order to fight in the wars of others…  but because we are human and this suffering is yours too.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere” – MLK