Tag Archives: Secretary of State

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr., Re-Elected as NALEO President

Adolfo Carrion Jr.

NALEO Board Officers Re-Elected, Hon. Ana Rivas Logan of Miami Dade County Public Schools Elected to NALEO Board

WASHINGTON, DC -The Board of Directors of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) today re-elected Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr., as president of the organization for a second one-year term. President Carrion is the first person of Puerto Rican descent to lead the organization.

A former urban planner, teacher and community organizer, President Carrion was elected to the New York City Council in 1997. He served one term before running for the Borough Presidency of the Bronx and winning in 2001. He was elected to his first term as NALEO president in 2007.

“I want to thank my colleagues on the NALEO board for their continued support of my leadership of this important national organization,” stated NALEO President Carrion. “With more Latinos in the history of the nation voting in the 2008 presidential election, NALEO has a tremendous opportunity to raise the issues and concerns for Latinos to the forefront for discussion at a national level,” he continued. “I look forward to working with the NALEO board to usher in a new era of Latino political empowerment.”

At its meeting, the Board re-elected its officers, including New Mexico Secretary of State Marry Herrera as Vice-President; East Chicago School Board Member Fernando Trevino as Secretary; and Texas State Representative Pete P. Gallego as Treasurer. The Board also re-elected its members to another term. In addition, Board Member Ana Rivas Logan of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools was elected to serve a three-year term on the organization’s Board of Directors.

“The future success of this nation will be determined by the increased participation and continued growth of the nation’s second largest population group,” said Arturo Vargas, Executive Director for NALEO. “I am confident the NALEO Board is up to task in pursuing the organization’s mission of Latino empowerment.”

The President, Officers and Directors were selected at the Annual Meeting of the NALEO Board of Directors, the culmination of NALEO’s 25th Annual Conference, the nation’s preeminent Latino Political Convention.

HIV/AIDS Advocates Protest to end the HIV/AIDS Crisis in Puerto Rico, 12/13/07

U2 Lead signer, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Time Magazine Person of the Year Bono seems aghast as Michael Kink, Housing Works, Legislative Council describes the HIV/AIDS Crisis in Puerto Rico during last nights protest in front of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs annual Christmas Party. For months now the islands’ HIV/AIDS advocates have been calling out for US supporters to help in their efforts to bring some sensibility to the perpetual misuse, mismanagement and possible corruption of Federal HIV/AIDS designated funds by the San Juan EMA and the Puerto Rico Department of Health.

Bono seems intrigued by Michael as he details the situation outlined in the Puerto Rico HIV/AIDS crisis leaflet.

Supporters of the HIV/AIDS advocates in Puerto Rico traveled from Philadelphia and New York (and elsewhere) to protest in front of the annual Puerto Rico government sponsored party that draws many of Washington, DC’s elite. While inside, party revelers danced to salsa music and ate Caribbean delicacies outside the advocates poured out bottles of Bacardi Rum, a Puerto Rico based product, and called for a national boycott of Puerto Rico Rums.

The advocates campaigned for the US Federal Government to take action to gain responsible control of the HIV/AIDS dollars that are currently either being mismanaged or underutilized while so many patients are going without life sustaining services. According to numerous federal investigations, the island is among the top 10 jurisdiction that returns funds to the Federal government because it not manage them.

Both the San Juan EMA and the Puerto Rico Department of Health are under HRSA imposed restricted draw down, an administrative condition imposed by the Health Resources and Services Administration when grantees are not compliant. Little more however has been done to remedy the situation.

Yours in the struggle,
James Albino
National Minority AIDS Council
Assistant Director, Government Relations and Public Policy
1624 U St, NW Suite 200
Washington, DC 20009-4432
Tel: 202-234-5120 ext. 303 Fax: 202-234-6404
email: jalbino@nmac.org -or- jalbino@caribe.net

“No war on the face of the Earth is more destructive than the AIDS pandemic. I was a soldier. But I know of no enemy in war more insidious or vicious than AIDS. Will history record a fateful moment in our time, on our watch, when action came too late?”

US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Address to the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS
June 25, 2001

Court win fuels Puerto Rican citizenship debate – article from the Right

Note: See the very end of this article about former Secretary of State Norma Burgos’ “Puerto Rican citizenship.” What are the implications of this for the right of Stateside Puerto Ricans being able to vote in a plebiscite on the political status of Puerto Rico? Interesting.



Court win fuels Puerto Rican citizenship debate

After a long battle, the elder statesman of Puerto Rico’s independence movement finally has what he wanted: citizenship


Miami Herald (July 14, 2007)

MAYAGUEZ, Puerto Rico — The seeds of Juan Mari Brás’ quixotic patriotism were planted when his parents draped a Puerto Rican flag over his crib.

Those seeds flourished 13 years ago, when the elder statesman of Puerto Rico’s independence movement renounced his U.S. citizenship in an effort to be officially recognized as a Puerto Rican. He’s 79 now, and after a 60-year anti-colonial crusade, he has something new to adorn his surroundings: a certificate of Puerto Rican citizenship.

He is the first Puerto Rican in history to have one. And as the U.S. Congress considers Puerto Rico’s status, Mari Brás’ newfound and hard-fought citizenship has refueled the heated debate about what it means to be Puerto Rican.

The certificate was issued in October after Mari Brás successfully sued for the right to vote in local elections. Last month, the Secretary of State’s Office here offered citizenship to eligible islanders. About 450 have requested certificates, and legislators are drafting bills to codify the process of obtaining them.

The tangible value of the certificates is in doubt, even among some of Marí Brás followers.

”With this certificate, can I travel from here to some other country?” asked independence party legislator Víctor García San Inocencio. “When I come back, will Homeland Security let me in?” The answers: no and no.

For Mari Brás, the citizenship certificate is more legal test than meaningful evidence of nationality. He said his win is important because it marks the first time the government here has recognized a national identity not tied to the United States. But he shrugs off the significance of his long court battle, recognizing that while it may have been the most important achievement Puerto Rico’s tiny independence movement has seen in years, it is a far cry from the sovereignty he craves.

”Biologists experiment with plants and animals and chemists do so with elements,” he said in a recent interview at his office at the Eugenio María de Hostos Law School in Mayagüez. “Since I am a lawyer, I experiment with the law. The certificate is an achievement, but it’s not the independence of Puerto Rico.”

When Mari Brás was born to a deeply political Mayagüez family, the U.S. military had seized Puerto Rico from Spain barely 30 years earlier. People like nationalist leader Pedro Albizu Campos were frequent dinner guests at his uncle’s house next door.

”Back then, we thought independence would happen the day after next,” he said. “We never thought we would remain the most important colony of the most important empire.”

His father took him to political events, and he founded an independence movement in high school. It became a passion that got him jailed seven times, kicked out of law school and a heart attack at 36.

Mari Brás graduated from American University Law School in Washington. As a lawyer, he took on controversial cases such as the independence activists who opened fire on the U.S. House of Representatives. He founded the Puerto Rican Socialist Party and ran a spirited campaign for governor in 1976 until his son was murdered, a death Mari Brás blames on the CIA.

A Marxist with close ties to Havana, he was disbarred from practicing in federal court when he skipped a client’s appearance to attend a conference in Cuba.

But after decades of sometimes violent activism, even now the independence movement gets only about 4 percent of the popular vote. The vast majority of Puerto Rico’s 4 million people are split between wanting to become the 51st state and keeping some form of its current commonwealth status.

In a mission to prove Puerto Ricans had a separate national identity, Mari Brás in 1994 went to the American embassy in Caracas and renounced his U.S. citizenship. When he returned to Puerto Rico, a local statehood activist sued him, arguing that Mari Brás no longer had a right to vote in local elections. Puerto Rico’s electoral law says that only U.S. citizens can cast ballots.

”I wanted to see if in Puerto Rico you could continue breathing without being a U.S. citizen,” he said.

The case made the Puerto Rican Supreme Court, and, last fall, Mari Brás won.

”It’s extraordinary,” said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York group that has represented Puerto Rico’s independence activists. “He has been after this for 30 or 40 years. The next step is people will demand passports. What other things can flow from there?”

The Popular Democratic Party, which seeks more autonomy for Puerto Rico while keeping the island’s current relationship with the United States, agrees.

”An empty wallet does not have everything a full wallet has,” said legislator Charlie Hernández, who has submitted a bill to codify the citizenship process.

Puerto Rico’s New Progressive Party (PNP), which supports statehood, is vehemently against the citizenship plan, calling it a useless and illegal residency certificate. It also alleges that current Secretary of State Fernando Bonilla, of the ruling Popular Democratic Party, agreed to go along with it in order to attract votes within the independence movement.

In a statement, Bonilla said he offered the certificate to obey the constitution and the court decision. He stressed that it doesn’t replace the U.S. passport.

‘I understand Juan Mari Brás’ purpose and respect it, but Puerto Rican citizenship does not exist,” said PNP Sen. Norma Burgos, a former secretary of state who once denied Mari Brás’ petition for citizenship.

To prove her point, Burgos, who was born in Chicago and moved to Puerto Rico when she was 5, asked for citizenship. Under rules that the Secretary of State drafted after Mari Brás’ court victory, she did not qualify.

”Was the Secretary of State going to tell me, Norma Burgos, ex-secretary of state, ex-lieutenant governor, and sitting senator, that I am not Puerto Rican?” she said.

Bonilla redrafted the requirements to include Burgos — and lots of other people. Now, if you live in Puerto Rico and one of your parents was born here, you qualify. U.S. citizens who have lived here more than a year are also eligible.

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