The new Death Toll and an interview about Poverty, Taxes, and Government

This week I share an interview with Victor Ramirez Garcia about many of the issues affecting Puerto Rico covered in the essay he published  and we talk about housing, parking and decentralizing the government. Victor studied software engineering and later urban planning. I’m very glad I got the chance to know him and speak with him!

We also learned this week about the new death toll released by George Washington University, in which an estimated 3,000 deaths occurred as a result of the Hurricane.

It’s important to remember that these numbers are people, and it’s my stepdad, and someone’s grandfather and another person’s mother who died due to the incompetence and injustice we know exist. The sadness in the hearts of Puerto Ricans this week is heavy….

I wanted to take time to mention that the work done through this podcast is to elevate the voices of Puerto Ricans because in many aspects they are forgotten, pushed aside, and dehumanized. However, we see that Puerto Ricans continue to organize, publish, speak out, and engage those around them to vote. We are warriors in a long struggle and we’re not done fighting.

No study can bring Justice to the tragedy that occurred on our island and to our people, but it’s a start. Only WE can fight for that and only WE will find a resolution to the question of who really deserves to be free.

The next Puerto Rican Diaspora Conference happens September 14-15 in D.C. and I’ll be there – hope you can join us too:

Below are the links to content mentioned in the podcast. Thank you for listening… until next week.

The Return to Borikén – Contra La Corriente

For years, I’ve looked for ways to connect to my roots/mis raices… and understand who I am. After the Hurricane disconnected me from my family, and after my stepdad died shortly after, my broken heart started to imagine that some day I could come to live among my family and my people…

This week, I want to share my decision to move to Boriken.

I will be a Puertorriquena moving against the current, contra la corriente, back to my patria, as many others who cannot stay, who are forced into exile, have to leave.

After making this decision for myself, I found an article on Repatriating Puerto Rico by a Brooklyn born artist named Yasmin Hernandez, and I knew I needed to reach out to her. In this episode we talk about the migration of Boricuas out of the island, and the local government providing incentives to stay on the island only to non-Boricuas. There’s nothing surprising about that, but there is something we can do to reverse this trend.

We are a people who through oppression, and suffering, have had to find alternatives to survive, and for hundreds of years we adapt, we evolve, and we create spaces to #decolonize our island. I’ll be returning to our island to support the people who are fighting for self-determination, for their rights to live without oppression, and will continue to raise the voices of the Boricuas everywhere.

This is a story that spans centuries – this is the story of a country denied a voice, denied an identity, denied their freedom for hundreds of years.

Who will stand up against the strongest military power in the world, to demand that a people be given the right to self-determination? I stand in solidarity with the people of the island in saying – what is happening in Puerto Rico needs to change. As Yasmin said, there is an “untapped power” that we are now starting to see… And with over 5 million Boricuas in the Diaspora, you can use your votes to push back and demand justice for Puerto Rico.

I hope you enjoy the episode… and I really look forward to joining my sisters and brothers on the island to continue fighting against those that threaten our culture, our identity, and our people.

We are connected you and I #Boricua, and together we’ll move mountains…

#Boriken #Boricua #PuertoRico #PublicHealth #SocialJustice #DeColonizePR



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:

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:

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:

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