Ac­tivists in­clude Mar-A-Lago in Maria-re­lated plans

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Obituaries - By Steven Le­mon­gello and Jen­nifer A. Mar­cial Oca­sio Or­lando Sentinel sle­mon­[email protected] or­lan­dosen­, 407-418-5920 or @stevele­mon­gello

Lead­ers of the Cen­tral Florida Puerto Ri­can com­mu­nity laid out plans Wed­nes­day to con­verge on Pres­i­dent Trump’s Mar-ALago in Palm Beach on Sept.

22 “to mourn the vic­tims of Hur­ri­cane Maria and de­mand jus­tice for Puerto Rico.”

Mar­cos Vi­lar, pres­i­dent of the Or­lando-based Alianza for Progress, said his or­ga­ni­za­tion and the group Power 4 Puerto Rico ex­pect be­tween 1,500 to

2,500 peo­ple among the three events that Satur­day.

“It’s been a year since one of the great­est tragedies in the his­tory of Puerto Rico, and we here in the United States want to fight so that the world never for­gets,” said Jimmy Tor­res Velez, founder of Boricua Vota.

First, a morn­ing car­a­van of more than 20 buses will co­or­di­nate with lo­cal po­lice to travel from Broward County to Mar-A-Lago, where it will try to cir­cle Trump’s Win­ter White House.

A se­cond event will be “a gath­er­ing of cul­tures, pre­sen­ta­tions and state­ments” from the Puerto Ri­can com­mu­nity at the Meyer Am­phithe­atre in West Palm Beach from 3 to 7 p.m. to honor the al­most 3,000 lives the Puerto Ri­can gov­ern­ment now says were lost be­cause of the Septem­ber 2017 hur­ri­cane.

The fi­nal event will be an in­ter­faith vigil, Vi­lar said.

Vi­lar, who blamed “the very slow and per­haps neg­li­gent re­sponse from Pres­i­dent Trump and his ad­min­is­tra­tion” for much of the death toll, also crit­i­cized Trump’s com­ments Tues­day calling the hur­ri­cane re­sponse “in­cred­i­bly suc­cess­ful” and “an in­cred­i­ble unsung suc­cess.”

“It is in­ter­est­ing the pres­i­dent chose 9/ 11 to pat him­self on the back,” Vi­lar said. “It’s sort of a con­trast of how he views cit­i­zen­ship and how cit­i­zen­ship re­ally works. A demo­cratic gov­ern­ment has a pact with cit­i­zens. A cit­i­zen has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to par­tic­i­pate and be ac­tive in civic life … and the gov­ern­ment, in turn, has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect cit­i­zens and help cit­i­zens. We feel this ad­min­is­tra­tion has bro­ken that


Tor­res Vi­lar said Trump “is per­son­ally re­spon­si­ble for the failed re­sponse to Puerto Rico [and] should re­spond to our claims. … If you com­pare the re­sponse of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to those af­fected by Harvey, it’s a ridicu­lous thing. Other Amer­i­can cit­i­zens of Texas and Alabama were given up to 17 months of as­sis­tance.”

Maria “changed ev­ery­thing,” said the Rev. Jose Ro­driguez, who was work­ing on a cam­paign to in­crease Span­ish in schools with the Vamos4PR or­ga­ni­za­tion when hur­ri­cane-dis­placed Puerto Ri­cans be­gan to ar­rive.

“Our mis­sion changed to some­thing big­ger to help Maria’s sur­vivors,” Ro­driguez said. “That took us to

the air­port [to help in set­ting up ta­bles for ar­rivals] and then to see peo­ple sleep­ing in cars and in ho­tels. We be­gan to ad­vo­cate for the rights of the peo­ple who were in the ho­tels. We en­ter that world of the sur­vivors, pro­tect­ing their dig­nity.”

Demon­stra­tion spokes­woman Zoe Colon called for Puerto Ri­cans, “other His­pan­ics and al­lies to stand with us in sol­i­dar­ity to honor the mem­ory of peo­ple lost and im­pacted by Hur­ri­cane Maria. … We need to send a clear mes­sage that Puerto Rico has not been treated fairly and that we will re­mem­ber this in Novem­ber for the elec­tion.”

“It’s been a year since one of the great­est tragedies in the his­tory of Puerto Rico, and we here in the United States want to fight so that the world never for­gets.” Jimmy Tor­res Velez, Founder of Boricua Vota


Or­lando Puerto Ri­can lead­ers are plan­ning a demon­stra­tion at Pres­i­dent Trump's Mar-ALago. They es­ti­mate be­tween 1,500 to 2,500 peo­ple will at­tend.

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