WNPR

Connecticut Community Organizers Prepare For Puerto Rican March

Nov 17, 2017

There will be a unity march for Puerto Rico on Sunday in Washington D.C.

Ana Valentin-Jackson is on the national committee for this event and is mobilizing Connecticut residents to get to the nation’s capital.

Valentin-Jackson, who is also the chair of Hartford’s Puerto Rican Day Parade, had already helped get four tractor-trailer loads of goods and thousands of dollars in donations to Puerto Rico but she said there’s more to be done.

“The pictures are plastered in my mind thinking of all the vegetation being gone and how much I love and I adore the greenery of the island and the warmth of the beach and the sun. And it wasn’t there,” Valentin-Jackson said. “It’s still not there. We’re not quite there yet.”

The march was organized to demand three things for the island of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria: cancellation of the more than $70 billion dollars in debt owed by the Puerto Rico government, support in rebuilding infrastructure and a permanent exemption to the Jones Act of 1920 which makes it difficult and thus more expensive to ship goods to Puerto Rico.

“The message is for the president and for Congress to cancel out the Jones Act,” Valentin-Jackson said. “Everything that comes to Puerto Rico has to come through here because of that law. If there are countries that want to take things directly to Puerto Rico, they have to pay higher tariffs. And that means the cost is then passed on to the Puerto Rican people.”

She expects about 150 people from all over the state to make the trip. Carmen Yulin Cruz, who is the mayor of San Juan, and “Hamilton” star Lin Manuel-Miranda will also be there.

This story is part of “The Island Next Door,” WNPR’s reporting project about Puerto Rico and Connecticut after Hurricane Maria.