Things That Matter

Puerto Rico Is Completely Flooded And Could Go Months Without Electricity. Here’s How People In The U.S. Are Uniting Beautifully To Help

Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico on Wednesday, inundating its towns with mudslides and floods and leaving the entire island without electricity. With poles and lines collapsed over many of the island’s streets, it could take half a year to restore power to its 3.5 million inhabitants, and that’s for those whose homes weren’t completely destroyed. Photos and videos keep pouring into social media of demolished residencies, roofless homes and windowless apartments. At least one person has been reported dead.

At 155 miles per hour, the category 4 hurricane was the worst to hit the country in more than 80 years, and it came as the Caribbean island is grappling with its years-long debt crisis. “The San Juan that we knew yesterday is no longer there,” an emotional Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan, told NBC. With trees toppled, roads flooded and buildings shattered, the same can be said of most of “La Isla del Encanto.”

The people of Puerto Rico, the same ones who after getting slammed by Hurricane Irma earlier this month aided other Caribbean islands in need, are in dire need of our help. For those who are able, we urge you to donate money, goods or even blood to the folks of El Borikén. Below, we’ve listed funds, drives and events occurring on the island and across the country where you can help out.

Puerto Rico

To best serve the people of Puerto Rico, it’s crucial to support and donate to the organizations and funds doing work on the ground. Donations to Hurricane Maria Community Recovery Fund will go to people on the frontlines, those supporting low-income communities of color that are often hit hardest yet see the slowest recovery. There’s also ConPRmetidos, a nonprofit based on the island, that started the Puerto Rico Real-Time Recovery Fund. They are hoping to raise $150,000 to provide immediate needs like food, water and shelter to the people as well as assist in long-term recovery efforts. Also, Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico is a nonprofit organization with a history of providing direct services to the people of Puerto Rico. They don’t currently have an online fundraiser but donations can be sent via mail at: Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico ​P.O. Box 191914 San Juan, PR 00919.

New York

In New York, Defend Puerto Rico is partnering with two local organizations on the island, Nuestra Escuela and Taller Salud, for a LOIZA Hurricane Relief Fundraiser. The Bombazo-style event, which takes place at the Julia de Burgos Art Center in East Harlem on Thursday, Sept. 21 (today) from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., will include music, dance and art. There’s a $5 suggested donation fee, with all of the funds going to the two Puerto Rico-based organizations. If you can’t make the event, but still want to donate, you can do so at its YouCaring campaign.

Also in Nueva York, Barrio Poetix will host a hurricane relief event on Tuesday, Sept. 26 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The evening, hosted by Puerto Rican poet Mariposa, will include several poetry and musical performances. Organizers are asking for a $10 suggested donation.

For those in the city who can’t attend events but want to send items to Puerto Rico, El Maestro, located at 1300 Southard Blvd. Bronx, New York 10459, and Casabe Senior Houses, at 150 East 121 Street in East Harlem, are taking clothing, non-perishable foods, personal hygiene items, baby supplies, first aid kits and batteries between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. from Thursday (today) until Sept. 23.

Florida

Throughout Florida, there are several events and donation drop-offs. Starting Sept. 21 (today), there will be donation drives in Orlando, Greenacres and Tampa. Similar drives will also commence on Friday in Miami and Sept. 29 in West Palm Beach.

For those in Central Florida, the Lake Nona Run Club will host a Re-Building Puerto Rico 5K in Orlando on Saturday, Sept. 30. There’s a suggested donation of $10, with all funds going to assistance on the island. Also in Orlando, Centro Borinqueño, located at 1865 N. Econlockhatchee Tr., Orlando, Florida 32817, will have a blood drive on Saturday, Sept. 23, and Sunday, Sept. 24. On Oct. 1 in Lakeland, instructor Rosa Garcia will host a 90-minute Zumba session dedicated to Puerto Rico relief.

Chicago

In Chicago, The Puerto Rican Agenda is hosting an emergency fundraiser on Friday, Sept. 22 at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center. The event, which will take place from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., will include live performances, a silent auction and more. There’s a $25 donation required to get in.

Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, UnidosPa’PR will host a meeting and press conference on Thursday, Sept. 21 (today) to introduce the group and provide information on how to get involved. The same organization will host a donors reception on Sunday, Sept. 24 at Fairhill Square Park from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Also in “The City of Brotherly Love,” Norris Square Community Alliance, a community development center operated by women, is taking donations on Thursday, Sept. 21 between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. They are collecting water, batteries, candles, bleach, powdered mills, baby formula, diapers and canned goods.

New Jersey

Puertorriquenos Asociados For Community Organization (PACO) is holding a drive in Jersey City. Locals can donate water, bleach, canned goods, batteries and senior/children’s diapers at the drop-off location on 390 Manila Ave. Jersey City, NJ. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Saturday. On Sept. 29, New Jersey’s DC Social Club will throw a hurricane relief fundraiser from 6 p.m. till closing. A $20 donation will get you indoors for drinks, food and music by Jay La Musica.

Boston

Boston Boricuas are gathering next week on Tuesday, Sept. 26 for a brainstorming session at La Galería, located at 405 Shawmut Ave., from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The discussion will center on how to better support families and friends en la isla. If you’re Boston-based but can’t make it out that day, you can join the conversation by dialing in to 695-475-4120 (access code: 683*3847).

California

In Oakland, Calif., Taller Bombalele’s monthly Bombazo en la Bahia event will this month help fundraise money for relief efforts in Puerto Rico. The jam session, which will include live music and dance, will be at the AU Lounge (2430 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612) from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24. There’s a $5-$7 suggested donation. Next month, San Francisco’s Por Una Causa will host a perreo to help the island recover from the disaster. The “reggaetón for a cause” party happens on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at El Rio, at 3158 Mission St. San Francisco, CA 94110. The tickets are $10 presale and $15 at the door.

Cali-based folks who can’t attend the events but want to assist in relief efforts can donate money to a GoFundMe put together by the Los Angeles-based group Puerto Ricans in Action. All funds will be donated to the following nonprofits in Puerto Rico: ConPRmetidos, Iniciativa Comunitaria, Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico, United Way of Puerto Rico.

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.-based Boricuas have organized a DCRicans For Puerto Rico relief event to help aid the island following Hurricane Maria’s devastation. The event, which will take place at the Hawk ‘n’ Dove in Southeast on Friday, Sept. 22, will include live Puerto Rican folk music. All funds raised will go to the United for Puerto Rico fund.

Cleveland

In Cleveland, Ohio, Puerto Ricans started a drive to support their island. Starting on Sept. 21 (today) and going through Sept. 24, donations can be taken to the San Lorenzo Club at 3415 Clark Avenue in Cleveland between noon and 8 p.m. The group is currently accepting canned goods, baby food, clothing, water, non-perishable items, diapers and pet supplies.

Read: 9 Hits To Get You Hype And Proud To Be Puerto Rican

Let us know what relief efforts are taking place in your community in the comments and consider sharing them on this disaster relief Google Doc.

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Puerto Rican Boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez Pleads Not Guilty To Charges Of Killing Of Pregnant Woman

Things That Matter

Puerto Rican Boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez Pleads Not Guilty To Charges Of Killing Of Pregnant Woman

Puerto Rican boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez is charged with murdering Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz, who was pregnant at the time. In a virtual court hearing earlier this week, Verdejo Sánchez pleaded not guilty to federal charges related to the murder.

Boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez is being charged with murder in connection to the death of Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz.

Earlier this month, news broke that Rodríguez Ortiz’s body was found floating in a lagoon. The news shocked Puerto Rico because Rodríguez Ortiz was pregnant when she was killed. Verdejo Sánchez, who is married and has a young daughter, was quickly arrested and charged with murder in connection with her death.

According to an FBI complaint, Verdejo Sánchez is accused of punching Rodríguez Ortiz in the face before injecting her with an unknown substance. She was then tied up and heavy blocks were attached to the bindings before being thrown from a bridge. Verdejo Sánchez then allegedly shot at Rodríguez Ortiz’s body before fleeing the scene.

Verdejo Sánchez and Luis Antonio Cádiz Martínez were both indicted in the crime.

According to reports, Cadíz Martinez helped Verdejo Sánchez commit the crime and has worked as a witness for the FBI as they investigate the murder. Both men have pleaded not guilty to one count of carjacking resulting in death, one count of kidnapping resulting in death, and one count of killing an unborn child. Verdejo Sánchez is also facing one count of carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

The two men are facing federal charges that could come with federal death penalties.

The death penalty is illegal in Puerto Rico but special circumstances in the case could mean federal death penalties. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico said in a statement that the crime was done “by payment or the promise of payment.” That is enough to escalate the matter to a federal crime.

“Keishla Rodríguez-Ortiz was taken from a family that loved her, and she and her child were denied the most fundamental right of life, and the joy of knowing what that life could have been,” United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow said in a statement. “We hope that this process brings some measure of solace to Keishla’s family. This case also underscores the message of cooperation with law enforcement that I have been repeating to the community – If you have knowledge of criminal activity, even if you are a participant in that activity, do the right thing and come forward to authorities. The prosecutors and the law enforcement agencies that have worked tirelessly, and who continue to assist in the ongoing investigation of this case, are to be commended.”

Rodríguez Ortiz’s death has sparked outrage as the island confronts a spike in femicide since January.

Twenty-one women have been killed in Puerto Rico since the beginning of the year. According to Observatorio de Equidad de Género, 60 women were killed last year in Puerto Rico, which is a 62 percent increase from 2019. Puerto Ricans are demanding justice and answers as the same femicide gripping the rest of Latin America is on the rise.

This story is ongoing and mitú will update on the story as it develops.

READ: Radical Feminists Have Seized Control of a Federal Building in Mexico in Protest of the Government’s Apathy Towards Rampant Femicide

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Singer-Songwriter Kany García Speaks Out Against Conversion Therapy in Puerto Rico

Entertainment

Singer-Songwriter Kany García Speaks Out Against Conversion Therapy in Puerto Rico

As the Puerto Rican government is debating a bill on conversion therapy, Kany García is speaking out against the controversial practice. The Boricua singer-songwriter wrote an open letter to the senators in favor of Senate Bill 184, which would help end conversion therapy on the island.

Kany is one of Puerto Rico’s most-decorated artists.

García is one of the Puerto Rico’s top artists. She’s won six Latin Grammy out of a career 20 nominations. In March, she was also nominated for her third Grammy Award for her latest album Mesa Para Dos.

This year Kany celebrated five years since coming out.

On Valentine’s Day 2016, García revealed that she was in a relationship with her partner, Jocelyn Troche. The couple is still going strong with Troche appearing in last year’s “Lo Que En Ti Veo.” She and García share beautiful moments in the video. At November’s Latin Grammy Awards, there was a big wave of artists in the LGBTQ+ community in the major categories, including García, Ricky Martin, Pablo Alborán, and Jesse y Joy’s Joy Huerta.

She’s telling Puerto Rican senators to pass Senate Bill 184 in her letter.

Since coming out, García has remained at the forefront of queer issues in Puerto Rico. The passage of Senate Bill 184 seeks to prohibit conversion therapy. The controversial practice has long harmed LGBTQ+ communities. It’s thought of as a way to rid them of their queer gender or sexual identities.

“Puerto Rico deserves that every girl and boy, every young woman and young man can be who they want to be and love who they want to love,” García wrote in her letter. “This measure has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the protection of Puerto Rican children and youth.”

García speaks from her own experience. “I am an example of how to be faithful to who you are. I am a woman who deeply loves her partner and who is loved by her family and by our people. There is nothing to change. There is nothing to repair. There’s nothing to heal. We have to give the same opportunity that I have had, to be who I am, to all our children and youth.”

García further writes that the bill should be passed as-is without any amendments. According to Al Día news, Popular Democratic Party Senators Gretchen Hau, Elizabeth Rosa Velez, and Migdalia Gonzalez have filed several amendments to Senate Bill 184 as of Wednesday. Puerto Rico’s governor Pedro Pierluisi has indicated that he’s ready to override the senators if necessary.

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Read: Thalía, Alejandra Gúzman, Anitta And More Lined-Up for ‘Ellas y Su Música’ Mother’s Day Special

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