Sunday September 19th, 2021, marked four years since Hurricane Maria ravaged the island of Puerto Rico leaving the Caribbean island in complete darkness, massive devastation and taking thousands lives. Puerto Rico has been plagued by one tragedy after other, but many argue that the most egregious of them all is the persistent colonial rule of the United States over Puerto Rico.
Currently, there is a strong advocacy from various political leaders for the US Congress to allow Puerto Ricans in the island to have “Self Determination”. The idea is to evaluate and educate the population on all the possible options that can be agreeable upon and passed through Congress. These options currently revolving mostly around independence, Free Association and Statehood.
“We have to hold this government accountable in treating us as equally as all USA citizens, which we have not been,” said Carmen Cruz, founder of the Silent Procession NYC4PR.
Carmen explain that the procession began out of the outrage from the disrespectful treatment from the federal government immediately following the aftermath of the hurricane. Remembering how she felt when the then President Trump tossed a roll of paper towel to a crowd of Puerto Ricans as a mockery to receiving emergency assistance.
The Silent Procession NYC4PR has attracted many high profile community leaders and government officials from both Puerto Rico and New York. Among those attending was New York Lieutenant Governor (NYLG) Brian Benjamin, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (democratic mayoral candidate), and the Speaker of the Houses of Representatives of Puerto Rico Rafael Hernandez-Montañez.
“The beautiful part of it is that it is silent… it speaks for itself,” said NYLG Brian Benjamin talking about the procession adding, “and also recognize the broader issues that Puerto Rico is dealing with and be supportive as they look to deal with the federal government.” In his speech to the attendees he recalled, “one of the main topics that is always on my mind is respect for people of color, and four years ago we watched the federal government disrespect Puerto Ricans on the mainland and Puerto Ricans here.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams who has supported the Silent Procession NYC4PR from it’s beginning said, “I join my friend Lieutenant Government in stating that we are joint at the hip on this, I am so committed to help to do whatever is within our scope and our span to help Puerto Rico finally turn the corner.” He mentioned the need to partner with Puerto Ricans that are on the ground who truly understand the issues that affect the community.
Supporters dressed in white and walked in silence from 106th Street in East Harlem to the Grand Army Plaza of 59th Street in Central Park. The visualization sparked interest along the way from pedestrians and spectators who would stop to ask questions and were given out booklets that provided detailed.
Click here to learn more and get copy of the booklet: