LatinoJustice PRLDEF to Help Raise Funds for Disaster Relief in Puerto Rico and Mexico

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LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s staff and board sends its prayers and stands in solidarity with the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and those who have suffered the second disastrous earthquake in Mexico in two weeks. Puerto Rico has suffered devastating damage and is now completely without power. More than 200 people were killed during the recent earthquake in Mexico City, and rescue and recovery efforts continue.

LatinoJustice is collecting funds to distribute to two main disaster relief groups in both countries. All funds collected during next week’s fundraiser, hosted by LatinoJustice PRLDEF Líderes (a group of young Latino professionals and lawyers) will be donated to the designated relief efforts: For Puerto Rico, we will support The Hurricane Maria Community Relief & Recovery Fund, administered by the Center for Popular Democracy in Puerto Rico, and, for Mexico, Project Paz, administered by the El Paso Community Foundation.

“The safety and well-being of our families and our friends in both countries is our main concern,” said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “Since our founding, LatinoJustice has worked very closely with allies, clients, supporters, and friends in both countries. Our longtime work protecting the rights of Puerto Ricans and Mexicans will now include helping those nations recover from these disasters.”

Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria, an unprecedented category 5 hurricane, hit Puerto Rico just two weeks after it was struck by Hurricane Irma which damaged the country's already fragile infrastructure. The entire island is presently without electricity, which some government officials say will not be available for at least a week and possibly up to 4-6 months.

The devastation includes downed buildings, massive flooding, uprooted trees, dwindling food and water and major infrastructure damage. Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, bringing "catastrophic" 155mph winds and knocking out power to the island's entire population of 3.5 million. The monster storm was the strongest to hit the US territory in nearly a century. In Mexico, recovery efforts continue as bodies are found buried beneath rubble and a state of emergency was declared in Mexico City yesterday.

“The tragedy Puerto Rico is suffering right now precedes the hurricane and is exacerbated by the economic crisis it is experiencing and the deep austerity measures that have been imposed on Puerto Rico,” said Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, Associate Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF is currently working with the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo and the Center for Constitutional Rights in soliciting information from federal government agencies who played a role in instituting the federal fiscal control board and in requesting information to aid in the transparency and disclosure of their activities, including possible conflicts of interests among board members. LatinoJustice PRLDEF is also a part of the coalition group VAMOS4PR, a network of organizations and individuals committed to strengthening Puerto Rico by informing, organizing, and mobilizing the Puerto Rican diaspora and supporters throughout the states.

Mexico

In Mexico, a strong earthquake that hit Mexico City and other central areas have killed at least 245 people as of Thursday, officials say. Search teams are working feverishly to find any survivors who were trapped.

LatinoJustice is part of a group of over 35 faith-based groups and human rights organizations who filed a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States denouncing the joint campaign of the United States and Mexico to interdict and summarily deport persons--including thousands of children and families--fleeing rampant violence in Central America's "northern triangle": Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

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