Trump does not care about Puerto Ricans just like Bush did not care about Blacks after Hurricane Katrina

I truly believe that President Trump doesn’t care about Puerto Ricans, just like President Bush didn’t care about Blacks after hurricane Katrina. 

The Jones Act waiver approved earlier today by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the current administration that many celebrate is only for 10 days.  Ten f%^*#@# miserable days!  After that, back to double taxation for all items even after a natural disaster like Maria.  Will the waiver allow for the support coming from Cuba, Dominican Republic and Venezuela to come to island ports directly?  Will these missions only have ten days to deliver the aid, including medical care visits to victims in their remote rural homes?
No waivers!  It is time to eliminate the oppressive Merchant Marine Act of 1920, better known as the Jones Act. That should be the goal!
With almost half a million supporters thus far, this petition asks the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Donald Trump to waive the Jones Act (for all cargo at ports in Puerto Rico) for 12 months (not 10 days) to give the island the relief it needs to recover and rebuild its infrastructure and economy.  Senator John McCain not only supported the 12 month waiver, he is now asking along with Republican Senator Mike Lee to permanent remove Puerto Rico.  I agree, it is time for full policy change. Puerto Rico and the Caribbean’s recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria will not take ten days or a year, but decades!
Diaspora, it is time to react.  We need national groups like the National Puerto Rican Agenda, the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, the National Puerto Rican Coalition, Puerto Rican Hollywood stars and leaders, businesses, among many others to mobilize their members, chapters or fans to make this a reality instead of each doing individual campaigns. Let’s organize in New York City, Chicago, Boston, Orlando, Houston, D.C. to help our people in need!  What are we waiting for???
Finally, one clarification.  More than half a million people asked for the waiver, not the current Governor of Puerto Rico as the Trump administration incorrectly Tweets.  The people of Puerto Rico have even been advocating for its complete removal for decades.  If you don’t know what the Jones Act is, I suggest you search the internet for tons of information about this 100-year-old gallows for the island of Puerto Rico.
Eliminate the 100 year old Act Jones NOW!!! TODAY!!!

Click and find ways to support on the ground relief efforts in Puerto Rico!!!

Urgent Support for Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico needs your support today.  Many people in the United States are asking me how they can support my fellow Puerto Ricans on the island (also fellow US citizens) which was devastated by hurricane Maria last week.  I am including here several ways you can support.  I don’t like asking for donations, but there is no other way right now.  Puerto Rico needs your support.  I ask for your support.

As I collect information from local Puerto Ricans on the island as well as members of the Puerto Rican diaspora in the United States, I realize that the lack of communication on the ground makes information sources less reliable.  For that reason, I have selected the following as trusted ways you can join in the relief efforts.

Donate to the following frontline community based organizations and/or campaigns:

Bring emergency and construction supplies to the following initiatives in the DC/Maryland/Virginia:

  • Office of Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) located at 1100 17th St, NW, Washington, DC.  Phone is 202-800-3133 (or 3134).
  • Emergency supplies include, but are not limited to water, baby wipes, diapers, baby formula, batteries, battery fans, dry foods, towels, canned milk, cots, mosquito repellent, canned and dry pet food, baby/adult pain relief medicine, stomach/diarrhea relief medicine, etc.
  • Construction supplies include, but are not limited to extension cords, trash bags, shovels, wheelbarrows, crowbars, hammers, utility knives, work gloves, wood panels, electric generators, electric cables, tarps, ropes, chainsaws, safety glasses, etc.

Bring emergency supplies to the following initiatives across the US:

  • 18 firehouses and EMS stations across New York City boroughs will receive critically-needed items for Hurricane Maria relief.
  • Basic supplies are being collected in various US locations, including Orlando, Miami, Dallas, Boston, Houston, Tampa, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Connecticut, and Ohio.  Do a Facebook search near you since many are posted as Events.

Send your boxes of emergency supplies!  The following post offices in Puerto Rico are providing limited service (Source: US Postal Service, 9/27/2017).  Mail service will be limited in each office, according to their capacity.  Mail offices will be open between 9am and 3pm for retail, PO Box mail and package pickup services.  If you know someone whose post office locations is in any of the following locations, offer them to send them support now.  Remember people will probably have to make long lines to get your package so make it worth their time.

  • Aguirre, 00704.
  • Arecibo, 00612.
  • Bayamón, 00959.
  • Camuy, 00627.
  • Carolina, 00983.
  • Carolina Pueblo, 00985.
  • Cataño, 00962.
  • Cayey, 00736.
  • Ciales, 00985.
  • Cupey, 00926.
  • Guaynabo, 00969.
  • Hato Rey, 00917.
  • Lares, 00985.
  • Loíza Street, 00911.
  • Marina, 00985.
  • Mayagüez, 00985.
  • Minillas Center, 00940.
  • Naguabo, 00718.
  • Old San Juan, 00901.
  • Ponce, 00985.
  • Rincón, 00985.
  • San Juan Main Window, 00936.
  • San Sebastián, 00685.
  • Santurce, 00907.
  • Toa Baja, 00949.
  • Utuado, 00641.
  • Vega Alta, 00692.
  • Vega Baja, 00693.
  • 65th Infantry, 00924.

Sign this petition to tell your Congress representatives to release the aid to communities in Puerto Rico NOW and to support the recovery!!!

Sign this petition to tell the Department of Homeland Security and Donald Trump to waive the Jones Act (for all cargo at ports in Puerto Rico) for 12 months to give the island the relief it needs to recover and rebuild its infrastructure and economy.  The US controls the air and sea borders of Puerto Rico.  Open them NOW!  If Cuba, Dominican Republic and Venezuela want to help us, let them come.  Everyone – put pressure.  This is what solidarity looks like!  Call, tweet, organize, go to your elected officials’ offices.  Senator John McCain not only supported the 12 month waiver, he is now asking along with Republican Senator Mike Lee to permanent remove Puerto Rico.

Everyone can sign up to be a Volunteer by contacting the PRFAA Office via email at maria2@prfaa.pr.gov. You may also call them for additional information on how to assist or with questions at 202-800-3134 (or 3133).

If you are a Spanish-speaking federal employee find out if you can volunteer your time and effort to the SCF (Surge Capacity Force) @Center for Domestic Preparedness.  The most important part is getting your supervisors’ approval.  Visit https://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/sites/default/files/Surge_Capacity_Force.html for more information about how to help Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Share this post with your friends and family and encourage them to donate or volunteer.

Hugs and emojis are good, but asking someone from Puerto Rico how they are, about how is their family, and offer support is a much better alternative. 

The situation is dire.  Listen to San Juan’s Mayor explain the reality in the island’s capital.  It is probably worst outside of San Juan.  Here is a selection of photos showing the magnitude of the disaster from The Atlantic and BuzzFeedNews.

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NOAA satellite night images of Puerto Rico posted on Twitter. Hurricane Maria knocked out power grid, millions without electricity.

This post will be updated regularly.  If you have additional information to add, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Thank you, Juan Carlos Vega

Sophia, Santurce extrañará tu grito de justicia e igualdad…/ Sophia, Santurce Will Miss Your Calls for Equality and Justice

LGBT HealthLink, The Network for Health Equity

JuanCarlosProfWritten by Juan Carlos Vega, LGBT HealthLink Policy Manager, and first published in http://www.lacalleloiza.com/. The blog remembers Sophia Isabel Marrero Cruz, a Puerto Rican woman who for decades advocated for the rights of LGBT communities in Puerto Rico, United States, and Latin America.

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A principios del 2011, se le solicitó a Sophia Isabel Marrero Cruz que proveyera una breve biografía que pudiéramos incluir en la pagina Web del Comité de Planificación de la 1era Cumbre Puertorriqueña en Pro de la Salud Lesbiana, Gay, Bisexual, Transgénero y Transexual (LGBTT): Enfoques de colaboración para crear conciencia en la salud pública que se llevo a cabo el 2 de marzo de 2011 en San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Utilizando su computadora con la pantalla rota desde su apartamento en Santurce, Sophia escribió lo siguiente sobre ella. “Nace un 15 de junio de 1970 en San Juan, Puerto Rico. Se inició temprano en el…

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Jason, ya te extrañamos…

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Gloria Cordero (miembro AC VISTA), Jason Vélez y yo celebrando el 7 de febrero de 2015 (una semana antes de concluir mis funciones) con las graduadas del Programa de Formación Empresarial para la Mujer del Centro para Puerto Rico. Con orgullo ofrecimos servicios de apoyo y asistencia a los visitantes y usuarios de la Bilblioteca.

Desde el viernes estoy recibiendo textos y mensajes diciéndome que ya no estas con nosotros. Pero como es posible, que una persona tan joven, con tanta sabiduría, compasión y compromiso ya no esta con nosotros. La vida me honró por haber compartido con Jason Vélez por casi tres años. Voluntario AmeriCorp State, se tuvo que retirar por sus problemas del corazón, pero eso no hizo que dejara de venir a visitarnos en el Centro para Puerto Rico. Jason, llegaba y todos queríamos estar alrededor de él, recibiendo su energía maravillosa. A veces llegaba sin aire por falta de un corazón saludable pero no importaba porque su compromiso en mover a Puerto Rico hacia adelante le daba el aire que no le llegaba. Le decía que se quedara sentado en mi oficina, respirando, recuperándose, y luego entonces trabajaríamos. Cuando necesitaba a alguien que me cubriera el mostrador de la Biblioteca, Jason lo hacia sin pensarlo. Y cuando estaba trabajando en lo suyo, también se iba ayudar a empresarias en sus logos y planes de mercado, al igual que a las personas mayores que se trababan con las computadoras. Brillaba de felicidad cuando ayudaba y apoyaba al prójimo. Sin duda, Jason fue una de mis personas favoritas durante mis tres años como Director de la Biblioteca del Centro para Puerto Rico y la Fundación Sila M. Calderón. Jason fue voluntario desde el mostrador, diseñó la pagina www.ctcpr.org bajo su compañía SOMOS, fue tallerista en mercadeo y medios sociales, apoyó a empresarias y al desarrollo de Centros Tecnológicos Comunitarios en todo Puerto Rico.

Pero lo mas impresionante de Jason fue lo que nos enseñó con su débil corazón. Jason no podía reemplazar su corazón, por que entonces ya no iba a poder hacer mil cosas rutinarias, como meterse en la playa, que como quiera le destruirían su débil corazón mas todavía. No se que decir, mas allá de que ya te extrañamos. Que sin llegar a tus 30 primaveras, tu presencia, compromiso y compasión por el prójimo, por ayudar al que necesita y por un Puerto Rico mejor serán extrañados hasta el día que nos encontremos contigo en el cielo.  Tu partida me trae añoranza, tristeza y sentimiento, pero me da seguridad que tenemos otro ángel velando por nosotros y por Puerto Rico. El escribirlo y compartirlo con otros que te conocieron me brinda tranquilidad y sosiego. Bendiciones a ti y tu familia. Descansa en paz amigo!

Hoosiers Got Game: Indiana Scores on LGBT Tobacco and Cancer Training

LGBT HealthLink, The Network for Health Equity

Scout shares LGBT tobacco SG50 stats with IN DOT. “Our smoking rates are 50% higher than others, he says. “And we spend $7.9B on tobacco each year!”

by Juan Carlos Vega, LGBT HealthLink Policy Manager

Last week, we visited the Hoosier State and you can breathe the excitement in the air.  The Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission at the Indiana State Department of Health (DOH)  contacted us after receiving their LGBT Tobacco Control Report Card. They were ready to work towards improving LGBT needs and realities in their state.  Scout and I flew to Indianapolis to provide LGBT cultural competency training on how to create inclusive programming, identify local LGBT community resources, and develop strategies to improve each report card area.

After a quick lunch, participants reconvened to work on concrete action planning strategies to reduce tobacco and cancer control disparities.  Folks were powered up to discuss inclusive and integrated…

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Tobacco and Cancer Crawling in My Life

LGBT HealthLink, The Network for Health Equity

JuanCarlosProfby Juan Carlos Vega. LGBT HealthLink Policy Manager

It was 1995 and I had recently moved to Washington, D.C.  I remember needing to go to the doctor but my health care insurance instructed me that I first needed to decide which doctor, from a long list, was going to become the primary contact person for my health.  What?  Who?  How do I decide?  It was geography that made my decision.

The doctor’s office was close to my job at the Library of Congress and the guy was on the list of healthcare providers.  I remember walking into this cold office waiting room, filling out my paper work and thinking about what terminology to use to describe what pain or health concerns I had.  Even after moving six years prior from my Spanish-language homeland of Puerto Rico, I was still having issues using the appropriate terminology to express my concerns.  When…

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Influenza Vaccinations Among LGBTT Communities

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By Juan Carlos Vega for the Citizens Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico and LGBT HealthLink: the Network for Health Equity 

Are LGBTT communities getting vaccinated against influenza?  If you do a search on Google for “LGBT” and “vaccination”, most results refer to current important efforts towards Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination.  A few influenza vaccination campaigns targeting LGBTT communities appear scattered in the last two decades.  A fabulous one occurred in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The health events section in the Wisconsin GLBT History Project website reports that, “Flu Vaccination shots began to be offered annually to members of the LGBT community in approximately 1990, by the Gay and Lesbian Nurses Association. The effort was begun to target the especially at-risk population of the gay and lesbian community after the AIDS outbreak… For its first 16 years the vaccinations were given in the upstairs at the M&M Club, thanks to Bob Schmidt’s generosity. When the M&M Club closed early in 2006, the Nurses Association began the search for a new location for its 17th year.”

Of all the health problems LGBTT communities, why do we need to worry about influenza?  Don’t we have more pressing matters like HIV increase, high smoking prevalence, and rejection to proper services due to stigma and discrimination, etcetera, etcetera?  My knowledge on influenza and vaccination is limited but I compare the facts presented during the 3rd LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico on April 4, 2014.  According to the most recent statistics from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), some of the most significant risk factors and health conditions prevalent among LGBTT communities in Puerto Rico are obesity and overweight (53.5%), tobacco use (23.8%), asthma (22.2%), and diabetes (13.1%).  Later, in May 2014, the current Puerto Rico Secretary of Health, in alert, due to the increase on reported influenza cases, continued to encourage individuals with chronic diseases like obesity, asthma, and diabetes to get vaccinated.  The high prevalence of HIV reported cases among LGBTT communities in Puerto Rico are certainly vulnerable as well to the flu.

It is a no brainer LGBTT communities are at high risk and should get vaccinated. But then again, are LGBTT communities getting vaccinated?  Are there any influenza vaccination efforts in our communities like the one by the Gay and Lesbian Nurses Association in Milwaukee in the 90’s happening today or in summer pride events?  The CDC-funded National Influenza Vaccination Disparities Partnership reports that large metropolitan areas like Chicago, Latino-based Casa Ruby in Washington, DC, and the San Francisco LGBT Community Center are offering vaccination clinics and prevention services to LGBTT communities.  Anybody else?  Anyone has strategies and recommendations to implement influenza vaccination programs and services among LGBTT communities?

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Through collaborations with the CDC-funded National Influenza Vaccination Disparities Partnership, the Vaccination Coalition of Puerto Rico (VOCES), and the School of Nursing at the University of Puerto Rico , the Citizens Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health was able to provide flu vaccines and education to Summit participants.

Benson & Hedges Targets LGBTT Communities in Puerto Rico

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By Juan Carlos Vega, MLS, blogging for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico, National Latino Alliance Pro Health Equity and the Network for LGBT Health Equity

This is bad! As health professionals, community prevention programs, and the Puerto Rico Department of Health strive to reduce tobacco use prevalence among island inhabitants, we have busted Benson & Hedges, twice, targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and transexual (LGBTT) communities in San Juan area’s LGBTT clubs. Cute girls, in tight outfits, look to scan your driver’s license in order to continue to help folks initiate or facilitate access to low price cigarettes. If you fill out the survey that they present at these bars and allow them to scan your id, you can purchase a pack of Benson & Hedges from the bar at a huge discount. No wonder LGBTT smoking prevalence is two to three times higher than that of the general population.

Twice, I have been with gay guys who are trying to quit smoking for health and financial reasons and they have been accosted by such tobacco industry tactics. One time, we bought the cigarettes, the second time we resisted. Yes, I was included. After nine years of being smoke free, I have become an occasional social smoker for the past 3-4 years. It is so nasty, the smoke inhalation, the after taste, yet, after a few drinks, I see myself taking a “hit” or two from my friends’ cigarettes. I don’t blame the industry for my personal unhealthy choices, but they sure don’t help us quit for good!  Access to cheap smokes at bars should not be allowed!

Last weekend, was the second consecutive month, we have seen this predatory practice in our local LGBTT bars. It was contrasting to see as we were distributing promotional flyers for the  3rd LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico, April 4th and 5th at the School of Nursing of the Medical Science Campus of the University of Puerto Rico, free of cost for the general public and $45.00 fee for Continuing Education for Physicians and Nurses. Against the luring of the tobacco industry to get us to smoke again, the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTT Health efforts continue to fight the dangers of tobacco use with the support of Legacy Foundation, the Network for LGBT Health Equity, the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Puerto Rico, and the local tobacco free coalition. For more information, on how tobacco affects the health of LGBTT communities, come to the 3rd LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico: Tendencies Towards Health Equity April 4th and 5th in San Juan. Come by, our Summit is cheaper than the pack of cigarettes sold those nights and you will get great information, make new friends and learn how to take better care of yourselves!

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Juan Carlos Vega shows a tobacco cessation material in Spanish “Tobacco is a murderer that does not discriminate”

Data Collection on LGBTT Health is Outdone by Alcohol Sponsorship and Consumption During Boquerón Pride Festivities

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By Juan Carlos Vega, MLS, blogging for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico and the CDC-funded LGBT and Latina/o National Tobacco Control Disparities Networks

After a delicious lunch prepared at my friend’s parents house in the Ensenada Barrio of Guánica, and before returning to city life in San Juan, the afternoon breeze makes me reflect in our local pride celebrations and outreach efforts for healthy LGBTT communities.  Annually, during the second weekend in June, thousands of LGBTT’s migrate to the southwestern tip of the island to make the town of Boquerón the gayest place in Puerto Rico.  However, year after year, Boquerón’s streets become a collage of rainbow flags along with banners advertising alcohol products.  Unfortunately, the alcohol industry inundates our communities and the beautiful town of Boquerón becomes a drinking and smoking fest.  During this Sunday’s pride festivities, I saw at least four young women being carried out by their friends from alcohol intoxication; almost passed out and trying to make room among a jammed-packed house.  It happens every year!

Festival organizers, volunteers from community based organizations, performers, and supporters work really hard to make Pride a place where LGBTT’s and allies come to celebrate diversity.  This year’s local legislative victories that brought our communities closer to equality were a historical occasion.  Yet, limited community resources allowed the alcohol industry to take advantage of our communities by filling their pockets with our consumption dollars.  In exchange for a few thousand dollars that sponsor a stage, a promo, or a party, we allow them to alcoholize our communities.  It would be interesting to find out how much money the alcohol industry makes for every sponsorship dollar in Boquerón.

If you want to read more about how sponsorships affect our community health, and recommendations on how to create healthy environments, I encourage you to review the following research articles:

We have to start thinking of ways to celebrate our communities in healthier environments.  We should explore ways to bring a variety of cultural events, health fairs, art exhibits, beach volleyball tournaments, and any other activity that will give us the opportunity to celebrate our pride without being intoxicated or exposed to second-hand smoke from cigarettes.

However, in this conflicting environment of celebration and not-so-healthy consumption, Citizens Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health volunteers distributed educational materials and collected completed health surveys.  Sweaty volunteers happily helped people fill out the survey, distributed “stop smoking condoms” from the Department of Health of Puerto Rico Tobacco Control Program to smokers, UPR’s Medical Science Campus AIDS Clinical Trial Group Project (ACTU) condoms to gay men, and Alliance brochures and membership forms to those interested in helping to bring equality pro LGBTT health in Puerto Rico.  We will be posting preliminary survey results in http://saludlgbtta.org.  Look for us in Facebook!

Volunteers filled bags with tons of educational materials to help people quit smoking, oral and breast cancer prevention, labor and family rights, condoms, and other information pro health and social equality.
Volunteers filled bags with tons of educational materials to help people quit smoking, on oral and breast cancer prevention, labor and family rights, support phone lines for LGBTT youth, condoms, and other information promoting health and social equality.
It was hot and sunny, but folks were curious about the purple Making the Case for Equality bags from Lambda Legal and were happy to donate three minutes to complete our health survey.
It was hot and sunny, but folks were curious about the purple “Making the Case for Equality bags” from Lambda Legal and were happy to donate three minutes to complete our health survey.