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The Case for Puerto Rico Statehood

Posted on 11/10/2015 @ 11:45 PM

By: Roger C. Rocha Jr., LULAC National President

Earlier this week, presidential candidate Ben Carson joined Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in voicing support for granting statehood to Puerto Rico. Such support is welcome news to the people of Puerto Rico, who presently are experiencing economic hardship and would benefit greatly from statehood status.

Whatever the candidates’ motivation, the $72 billion debt crisis is an important issue facing Puerto Rico today. Puerto Rico has been in a recession since 2006, with unemployment at 14 percent and the majority of Puerto Ricans living in poverty. Many have moved to the mainland seeking employment opportunities and access to programs and resources that are not available in the territory.

If Puerto Rico obtained statehood status, the territory’s public corporations and municipalities would be allowed to file for bankruptcy. Such a move would enable Puerto Rico to restructure its debt in an organized manner. It would also provide more financial options and benefits that ultimately will help the Puerto Rican people. These benefits include the full benefits of the Affordable Care Act, the full extension of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and full reimbursement parity under Medicare and Medicaid.

Since 1917, Puerto Ricans have been recognized as U.S. citizens. In addition, since World War I over 200,000 Puerto Rican men and women have served in the Armed Forces, with nine having received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Puerto Rico has been a territory for 117 years, making the Caribbean island the longest held territory in U.S. history.

A considerable portion of the LULAC membership are U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico who are hard-working loyal Americans. Permitting Puerto Rico statehood status is the best strategy for stabilizing Puerto Rico’s economy. LULAC will continue to keep a focus on the needs of the people of Puerto Rico and work towards a solution to the Puerto Rican debt crisis that benefits the people of Puerto Rico.

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Diversidad, Dignidad y Trabajo: Ensuring Protections for the LGBT Community in the Workplace

Posted on 11/03/2015 @ 11:45 PM

Dr. Lydia Medrano, third from right, spoke on the legal protections needed in the workplace to protect the LGBT community.

By: Dr. Lydia Medrano, LULAC National Vice President for the Southeast

In September, I served as a panelist for a forum called Diversidad, Dignidad y Trabajo that took place in Tampa, Florida. I was one of four panelists who discussed the topic of the right to work with dignity, which refers to the right of every individual to obtain employment without the fear of discrimination. The forum was a collaboration between Florida LULAC, ACLU Central Florida Region and Ana G. Mendez Tampa University. The other panelists included EEOC representative Nelson Borges, human resources representative Carmen Alverio and psychologist/university faculty member Rafael Fuentes.

I told the audience of students and the general public that the right to work is not a class, gender or nationality “privilege”, but a right afforded to all citizens. Everyone has a right to work in order to support themselves and their families. People should be valued for their job performance skills as well as the quality of their work. Nobody should feel unfairly targeted or singled out for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Full equality for LGBTQ individuals is one of the major civil rights challenges of our time. Although LGBTQ individuals have always been part of our society; now,they are much more visible and engaged in ensuring their civil rights are protected.

The LGBT community recently achieved a major civil rights victory with the legalization of same-sex marriage. Despite this victory, we must not remain blind to other types of discrimination that the LGBT community faces on a daily basis. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is discrimination, and an individual's identity should be protected by law in all fifty states. The laws must clearly define discrimination in order to be enforceable and prevent hate crimes and discrimination in the workplace.

Additionally, we must continue to work to address the issue of bullying, homelessness, and an end to the detention of Latinos. All of these are issues that affect both straight and gay Latinos and it is in these intersections where we must build coalitions to achieve change and progress.

Prejudice is a human phenomenon caused by suspicion and distrust of people that do not meet our personal, nor our societal expectations. We must educate the public on the diversity of our society and the positive contributions it brings to our culture. Concurrently, we must also show the negative impact of discrimination on the social fabric of our nation. Everyone deserves respect, and everyone should be able to work with dignity and have the opportunity to contribute to our communities without being penalized for who they are.

Dr. Lydia Medrano, Ph.D., currently serves as the LULAC National Vice President for the Southeast Region. Dr. Medrano is a Sociologist, and is an advocate for human and civil rights as well as the well-being of families.

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