AJC New York’s Latino-Jewish Coalition, in partnership with AJC’s Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs, held an advocacy training for leaders of the Puerto Rican and Jewish communities. The event at AJC headquarters addressed ways to work together to aid Puerto Rico’s recovery.

Convening six months after Hurricane Maria devasted the island, the program focused on engaging with elected officials and other key decision-makers to help the hurricane-battered island receive the resources needed for its recovery and long-term reconstruction. Understanding the dynamics and institutional architecture of the relationship between the Puerto Rican diaspora and the island, and developing a roadmap for Latino and Jewish advocacy, also were part of the discussion.

"Maria’s devastation caused a humanitarian crisis of historic proportions for 3.3 million of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico," said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. "All communities must come together to help improve the response and ensure our fellow citizens are not left behind. We are stronger when we build deep coalitions to advocate for justice.”

Melissa Mark-Viverito, former New York City Council Speaker, said that "the way to be effective advocates is solidarity." She pointed out that "we have only received 33 percent of the relief funds we need to respond to the crisis created after the hurricane.”

The program speakers also included Dr. Edwin Melendez, Director of Puerto Rican Studies Institute at Hunter College; Jennice Fuentes, Founder and Managing Partner, Fuentes Strategies; and Frankie Miranda, Senior Vice President of the Hispanic Federation. The event was chaired by AJC New York Board member Jacobo Buzali and Guillermo Chacon, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS.

“Puerto Rico’s ongoing humanitarian and economic challenges compel our communities on the mainland and the island to jointly raise our voices and make sure that our government and society do not ignore our fellow citizens,” said Dina Siegel Vann, Director of AJC’s BILLA.

Velazquez thanked "AJC for hosting this event and being valuable partners in helping advocate for greater assistance for Puerto Rico."

A group of prominent Jewish and Latino leaders, convened by AJC, will travel to Puerto Rico May 2-5 on a solidarity and fact-finding mission. Upon their return to the mainland, participants will step up efforts to ensure that Puerto Rico remains a priority issue on the national agenda.

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