ORLANDO, FL (FNN News) – Today, leaders of the Puerto Rican diaspora in Orlando convened leaders from across the country, including US Reps. Alan Grayson, D-Fla, Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill, Nydia Velazquez, D- NY, José Serrano, D-NY, Brendan Boyle, D-Pa.; and Florida state Senator Darren Soto; New York state Senator Gustavo Rivera, Illinois state Senator Iris Y. Martinez, D-Ill, Puerto Rico Commonwealth Senator Rossana López; D-San Juan, Florida state Representatives Victor Torres, Jr., D-Orlando, John Cortez, D-Kissimmee, Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, Florida Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor Daisy Morales, D-Orange County, and local elected officials such as Kissimmee City Commissioner Art Otero , Melbourne City Commissioner Teresa Lopez, Philadelphia City Commissioner Maria Quinones Sanchez, and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, are all Democrats – whose districts are largely Puerto Rican communities.
Over 350 people gathered at the Acacia’s El Centro Borinqueno in east Orlando, including elected officials, community leaders and activists to developed a national Puerto Rican agenda and provide actionable strategies on the Commonwealth’s fiscal and healthcare crises, human rights and climate change.
The national meeting gave politicians a chance to score points with Hispanic voters in Florida, a key political battleground for the 2016 elections and home to more than 1 million Puerto Ricans. U.S. Representative Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat running for U.S. Senate in 2016 welcome four members of Congress for their participation.
The island, which owes creditors $72 billion, has proposed a plan to restructure debt and impose austerity measures, but it faces political hurdles, including the need for legislative action from the U.S. government.
“We’re going to be in the face of everyone, whether it’s White House, (Treasury) Secretary (Jack) Lew, or presidential candidates,” U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez, a New York Democrat, told a crowd, who stood, cheered, danced, and waved Puerto Rican flags.
Throughout the conference elected officials and community leaders called for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy for the island, restoration of Vieques Island where military testing is conducted, and the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera.