Public Employee Press
1st Anniversary of Hurricane Maria
By MIKE LEE
On the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico, DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido joined community leaders and elected officials to demand equity and justice for the victims, including more aid for reconstruction efforts.
Garrido spoke on Sept. 20 at an event held by Take Action for Puerto Rico, a coalition of community organizations, unions, faith-based leaders, and activists pushing for greater federal response for the recovery.
Garrido appeared on a panel in which speakers — including former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and U.S. Congress member Nydia Velázquez — updated the audience on the current situation on the island, one year after the hurricane struck.
Velázquez — expecting the Democrats to re-take the U.S. House of Representatives in the mid-term elections — spoke of the likelihood of future congressional action to aid Puerto Rico. In June, she introduced legislation to establish a commission to investigate the impact of the hurricane and the Trump administration’s appalling response to the island’s plight.
“What is most important is to find out what happened. We must find out if there was a different standard for Puerto Rico, compared to other parts to our country,” said Velázquez. “We need to know the truth.”
Before the packed audience, which included DC 37 members and activists, Garrido challenged people to act rather than just talk about supporting the residents of Puerto Rico.
He spoke about the 2016 decision of New York City Employees’ Retirement System to divest from predatory hedge funds. The funds — which hold the island’s finances hostage — pressed the island to take severe austerity measures to address its debt.
“I am proud that within the union movement, labor has stepped up and said we are not going to allow this anymore,” said the NYCERS trustee. “We are going to continue to fight. Sí se puede!”