New York politicians flock to annual conference in Puerto Rico: here’s why you should care


Why is this event so important?

Even before the results of the 2021 general election are certified, alliances are being formed to shape next year’s political trajectory – from the chairman’s next run in January to the New State governor’s primaries. York, State Attorney General, Congress and more. in June. All the major players will be there, crossing paths in hotel lobbies and dining in Old San Juan when the official events are over.

Politics is not the explicit purpose of the event, despite the networking, arm twists, soaks and sunbathing that inevitably takes place there. The conference is supposed to educate New York lawmakers and policymakers on issues important to Puerto Ricans – both those on the island and the million inhabitants of New York State – as well as the needs of the community. Latin American at large at city, state and federal government levels. .

This year’s event is sold out, having been canceled last year due to the pandemic, and it comes during high political advocacy season, with major changes in leadership at the city and city level. ‘State. The organizers estimate that it will be the most important of its 40 years of history with more than 800 participants expected.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, only people who are fully vaccinated and have their vaccination record and ID will be allowed to collect their conference badge. (Organizers say the Excelsior app won’t work in Puerto Rico.) But there are still plenty of people mixing in not-so-great places, with a mix of rain and sun in the forecast. (Hide your friends!)

Here’s what else you need to know about the Tropical Beach Conference, even if you’re enjoying the Five Fall Boroughs with the rest of us.

What is the stated goal of SOMOS?

“This is to promote unity,” said Maritza Davila, assembly member, chair of the New York State Assembly’s Puerto Rican and Hispanic task force, which works with the organization to goal. non-profit SOMOS, Inc. to host the event. Davila stressed the need for partnership and understanding among New York lawmakers in terms of issues affecting people living in Puerto Rico. Davila, who moved as a child from Catano, Puerto Rico, to Bushwick, Brooklyn, one of the neighborhoods she represents, said she tries to stay focused on what’s going on on the island.

“It’s not a party,” Davila said. “It takes a lot of work to organize this event,” she added, saying that SOMOS will examine how government and corporate policies originating in the United States are impacting the lives of Puerto Ricans and the diaspora in New York. York.

What are the official events?

One of the issues that is getting a lot of attention from lawmakers and nonprofit leaders is the fight against so-called “vulture” hedge funds, which make big profits by buying cheap debt from governments. faced with a default, then using a loophole in New York. State law to sue these same governments for full refund.

“Puerto Rico is facing a devastating debt crisis,” said Jesus Gonzalez, director of strategic initiatives for the nonprofit Center for Popular Democracy, citing the island’s $ 74 billion bond debt. He will be one of the panelists to tackle this problem and come up with state and federal legislative solutions that his organization says can help alleviate some of this overwhelming burden. He said they were pushing at the federal level for passage of the Territorial Relief Act, introduced by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez of Brooklyn, which would eliminate the Puerto Rico Tax Review Board and cancel the debt.

Gonzalez said the panel will also discuss proposed state-level legislation to prevent a small number of investors from blocking or extending debt restructuring, as has been an issue in Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the world.

On Friday there will also be workshops on how to bridge the learning gap left by more than a year of distance education, overcome the stigma associated with seeking mental health services, creating unions that empower workers and examine the lasting impacts of Hurricane Maria as a means of talking about resilience and recovery from natural disasters.


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