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Chicagoans gather for resources, awareness for Puerto Rico
Video below
by Matt Simonette
2017-10-02

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A group of Chicagoans gathered Sept. 30 at the Home Depot at 3500 N. Kimball Ave. to collect food and supplies to be sent on to Puerto Rico as the island begins its slow recovery from the devastation there after Hurricane Maria.

The collection was organized by a local chapter of the group Puerto Rico Rises, a national effort by Puerto Rican persons and their friends to collect money and resources for the people on the island. The chapter had, as of Sept. 30, raised just over $2,000, according to its fundraising page, which states that, "All of this money will be directly impacting the people on the island in coordination with the Government's official effort, Unidos Por Puerto Rico, and the Red Cross' local PR chapter. The funds will be used for additional supplies needed, transportation costs and to donate directly to the people of Puerto Rico."

A local organizer, Eric Correa, told Windy City Times that that the food collected on Sept. 30 would be directed through a private channel to four different municipalities outside San Juan.

"Point A is here; Point B is the people who need [these items]," Correa said. "It's not going to get stuck at the airport. … We're going to fill a container and we've got a plane ready. So we will make sure that we get full visibility when this stuff gets delivered to Puerto Rico."

Correa was born and raised on the island, he said, adding, "There was massive devastation there and they needed help," he said. "[Chicagoans] got connected … and we created the group."

Relief efforts for the island have been complicated by infrastructure largely dependent on wireless communications, much of which was wiped out by the hurricane. As such it's been difficult to establish regular communications and pinpoint Puerto Rico's needs specifically.

An emergency rally was also held by Chicago Boricua Resistance Sept. 29 in front of the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Among the demands of that group, according to a Facebook post, are distribution of food, water and fuel authorities are holding; the use of military equipment and personnel for transportation, distribution of aid, rescue, and clean-up efforts; a permanent lifting of the Jones Act; full funding of the recovery; and cancellation of the island's debt.

Juan Carlos Vega has compiled an extensive list of resources for persons wishing to help. It is available at ActivistLibrarianPR.wordpress.com/2017/09/ .

A fundraising page has been set up by CenterLink, the organization of LGBT community centers, to direct contributions to Centro Comunitario LGBTT de Puerto Rico, which in turn will direct the money towards resources to aid Puerto Rico's LGBT community. The page is at connect.clickandpledge.com/Organization/lgbtcenters/campaign/PuertoRicoRelief .

For more information on Chicago Boricua Resistance's work, go to facebook.com/decolonizepr/. For more information on Puerto Rico Rises—Chicago's work, go to Facebook.com/PuertoRicoRisesChicago/ .



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