(Buffalo, NY) The Puerto Rican and Hispanic Day Parade of WNY board and committee members are saddened by all that is happening in Puerto Rican and Venezuela. Both the U.S. Territory and the South American Country are in the midst of economic and social upheaval.
The people of Puerto Rico and Venezuela remain in our thoughts and prayers. With our celebration scheduled for August 19th, we do not want to turn a blind eye or cold shoulder to our brethren. Yet, we must stay within the bounds of our organization's bylaws and the applicable state laws. We are a non-profit organization. Our non- profit stays allow us to raise money to pay for the many free activities we provide the community and to grant scholarships through the Miss Borinquen of WNY Program and the Jr. Grand Marshal Program. As a non-profit organization, we are prohibited from participating in political activism. Although we are unable to be politically active, we nevertheless are keenly aware of the issues that face our Hispanic brothers and sisters. As individuals, we have each sought to help in various ways, the least of which is not keeping our brethren in our prayers
In Puerto Rico, we know the island is battling over $123 billion in debt and pension obligations that have triggered austerity measures that have hurt its residents, businesses and communities. Businesses are closing, as are schools, as Puerto Ricans flee to the US mainland and elsewhere to seek better opportunities. Recently, the island has sought bankruptcy protection, and this has triggered protests throughout the island.
In Venezuela, Venezuelans confront the highest rate of inflation in the world, bloody street protests and a climate of chaos as falling oil prices, lack of foreign currency, severe reductions in vital imports, and price controls have all contributed to the current situation.
We will continue to monitor the crisis both Puerto Rico and Venezuela currently face. A special prayer will be said at the Parade Flag Raising as well as the opening ceremony of the Parade, while still celebrating the rich cultural pride, heritage, identity and tradition of Puerto Rico and Latin America that bind us together.