The mission of the National Puerto Rican Agenda is to unite, educate, and create solutions for the Puerto Rican people in the United States and Puerto Rico. We seek to work with the government, candidates, political parties, organizations, and, most importantly, the public to make the mission of this organization a reality.
Alongside our mission to unite, educate, and create solutions for the Puerto Rican people in the United States and Puerto Rico, the National Puerto Rican Agenda has taken up an ambitious agenda on central issues concerning Puerto Ricans in the United States and Puerto Rico.
On July 24, 2016, at the First Constituent Assembly in Camden, New Jersey, over 200 people gathered to solidify the direction and work of the newly formed NPRA. Together, the attendants established a position on a number of central issues affecting Puerto Ricans. The agenda was revised and approved at the July 14, 2018 Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1. Puerto Rico
Federal Relations: Fiscal Oversight and Management Board: The NPRA recognizes the gravity of the austerity measures imposed on the people of Puerto Rico by the undemocratic, authoritarian, and unethical Fiscal Oversight and Management Board. We call upon Congress to transfer sovereignty on fiscal matters back to the people of Puerto Rico. The NPRA serves as an advocacy watchdog representing the NPRA members on policy matters in the capital and coordinating with other NPRA members’ educational and action campaigns to activate all members of our network on relevant and urgent policy issues.
Federal Support for Devastation of Hurricane Maria: The NPRA calls on the Federal government to appropriate and promptly disburse more funding for the reconstruction of Puerto Rico to meet actual needs, commensurate with the assistance of other declared disaster appropriations received and sensitive to Puerto Rico’s budgetary constraints.
Jones Act: The NPRA will campaign to mobilize Congressional and Presidential action for an exemption from the Jones Act to support economic recovery.
Medicaid: The NPRA will campaign to mobilize Congressional and a Presidential action for parity in Medicaid coverage for Puerto Rico and correcting Medicaid reimbursements and other disparities that affect doctors, medical transportation and health facilities operating in Puerto Rico.
Energy and the Environment: NPRA participants call upon the President and U.S. agencies to support adaptation projects and capacity building to address climate resilience planning and implementation in Puerto Rico, including development of government and nonprofit entities partnership and support to two revitalization projects of great importance to the Puerto Rican people: the clean-up of Vieques and Culebra Islands, and the dredging of the Martín Peña Channel.
The NPRA demands that Federal government invest in the infrastructure of Puerto Rico, particularly its electrical grid, to ensure that it can withstand future natural disaster. It has been well documented that that a non-operational power grid poses a threat to the lives and health of Puerto Ricans and is an impediment to the economic recovery and growth of the Island.
Puerto Rico Government: Good Governance, Transparency and Accountability: The NPRA calls the government of Puerto Rico to adopt principles and practice that will lead to good governance, transparency and accountability; end fraud and corruption, waste and abuse; and; facilitate the work of the diaspora in defending the interest of Puerto Rico at the Federal government level.
Energy and the Environment: NPRA calls on the government of Puerto Rico to make solar, wind and clean renewable energy programs a priority during the restructuring of the Puerto Rico Electrical Power Authority (PREPA), rather than making a decade long commitment to extensive reliance on fossil fuels. Local economic incentives should be offered through tax credits, loan guarantees and other methods in order to effectively establish and nurture an ambitious solar industry and energy efficiency retrofit programs in Puerto Rico. The restructured power system must be resilient and provide affordable energy to Puerto Rican consumers and businesses.
The NPRA supports environmental justice and educational activities aimed at transforming public spaces and engaging residents in building their communities.
K-12 Education: The NPRA calls on the Government of Puerto Rico to set education as its top long-term priority given its critical role in economic and social development. In the last two decades, Puerto Rico has lost thousands of K-12 and college students to migration, and thousands more have dropped out of school. It has closed hundreds of schools. The recently passed Education Reform Law would significantly change K-12 education in Puerto Rico.
- Stem the drastic reductions in the Department of Education’s budget contained in the Financial Control Board’s budget.
- Establish mechanisms to ensure proper oversight of the implementation of the School Reform Law that include teachers, staff, parents and communities.
- Create mechanisms to meaningfully involve parents, teachers, and communities in decisions regarding school closings and consolidation.
- Establish agreements between the Department of Education and U.S. school districts to provide support to students and parents that have migrated, including access to student records from Puerto Rico.
Higher Education: The chronic instability in the governance of the University of Puerto Rico, the draconian cuts to its budget and the migration of thousands of students, are significantly reducing its capacity to serve as the premier higher education institution in Puerto Rico. Moreover, Puerto Rico has significantly reduced both private and public options for students who would prefer to enter a trade or technical rather than pursue a college education. The majority of students in higher education in Puerto Rico attend private colleges and universities.
- Stabilize the governance of the University of Puerto Rico through legislation that would ensure its independence from the Island’s political parties.
- Assist the University of Puerto Rico in finding alternative sources of revenue, including engaging in for-profit entrepreneurial ventures, to compensate for the very large reductions in its budget.
- Strengthen the highly regarded, but not well-known Department of Education’s Technology Institutes to provide postsecondary technical training alternatives to the Island’s students.
- Establish agreements with institutions of higher education in the U.S. to facilitate students entering higher education from Puerto Rico, including offering free tuition.
Provide mechanisms to strengthen accredited private institutions and to ensure quality and accountability, including promoting partnership between these institutions and government and industry.
Political Status of Puerto Rico: The NPRA will campaign to mobilize Congressional and Presidential action for decolonization or ending the territorial status of Puerto Rico. Options for the decolonization of Puerto Rico shall be in compliance with international law and the United Nations principles of self-determination as detailed in General Assembly Resolution 1541 (XV). International law defines the three legitimate options of full self-government compliance with the principle of self-determination as free association with an independent State, integration into an independent State, or independence. NPRA action will be based on two principles:
- First, the process should be binding to Puerto Rico and Congress, with clearly specified political options as sanctioned by UN General Assembly Resolution 1541, Principles which should guide Members in determining whether or not an obligation exists to transmit the information called for under Article 73e of the Charter, A/RES/1541(XV) (15 December 1960), available from org/en/A/RES/1541(XV) and UN General Assembly Resolution 1514, Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples, A/RES/1514(XV) (14 December 1960), available from undocs.org/en/A/RES/1514(XV) and enacted in a democratic, participatory and transparent process to overcome once and forever the island’s colonial status.
- Second, the process should be inclusive of stateside island-born Puerto Ricans who shall have the right to participate as equals in any referendum, constituent assembly or any other consultative process on the political status options for Puerto Rico.
2. Human Rights, Political Participation and Government Accountability
NPRA recognizes the urgent need to create a nonpartisan national coalition of leading national, regional and local stateside Puerto Rican civil rights, faith-based, advocacy and public policy organizations, elected officials, and prominent community leaders to advance our core goal of improving Puerto Rican electoral and political engagement beyond elections, to become active participants in the political process, and to hold governing institutions accountable to the needs and aspirations of our communities.
Electoral Engagement: Our electoral engagement efforts will focus on swing states with a sizeable Puerto Rican population and the greatest potential to impact significantly future elections. Candidates' endorsement of NPRA's Call to Action on behalf of the stateside Puerto Rican community and Puerto Rico is critical to ensuring our political support.
Citizen Advocates: The NPRA will develop a plan of action to train stateside Puerto Ricans to become citizen advocates to affect social change peacefully and effectively. Educational and formative activities to the extent possible will be organized in partnership with or in support of other organizations with similar goals. Targeted areas of training include among others; voter registration, canvasing and electoral engagement; civil rights and civic action; citizens’ lobbying of federal and state elected officials; local advocacy and organizing; and, cultural engagement and historical preservation.
3. Identity, Culture and Historical Preservation, Settlement and Latinos
Racism in America: NPRA shall support multi-racial and intersectional coalitions to eliminate the vestiges of and discrimination in the United States, especially overt racist acts in the form of hate crimes, racial appeals in voting, and other forms of racial pandering, including structural and institutional racism that exacerbates historical measures of marginalization, with or without overt racist motivation or implicit bias. Puerto Ricans must continue to use the human rights lens to assert our right to fair treatment, regardless of the governments that control the public spheres in which we live.
Preserving and Celebrating the Puerto Rican History & Culture: NPRA affirms the urgent need to collectively take ownership for preserving culture and cultural organizations dedicated to maintaining our traditions and heritage, in Puerto Rico and on the mainland. Therefore, NPRA will support the development of a national network of Puerto Rican cultural and historical preservation organizations, artists and community leaders to provide a market for our artists and to develop new sources of revenues to support Puerto Rican cultural organizations.
In addition, NPRA will support and develop cultural programs and organizations devoted to preserving Puerto Rican heritage and culture such as parades and festivals, art exhibits, theater and performance arts, poetry, literature and all forms of creative writing, dance and music, among others. We are particularly interested in programs and organizations devoted to the education and engagement of Puerto Rican youth and the development of curricula and other learning vehicles and opportunities specifically aimed at children, teenagers and young adults.
NPRA supports efforts to collect and preserve Puerto Rican documents, works on paper and other forms of art, oral histories, multimedia materials, memorabilia and artifacts, and other evidence of cultural traditions and history.
NPRA supports efforts to promote the learning and use of the Spanish language, especially among Puerto Rican youth who do not master Spanish, as a means of promoting Puerto Rican identity and pride in culture.
Puerto Rican History Month: NPRA recognizes November as the month for a national celebration of Puerto Rican heritage. We shall support festivities and other educational events that educate our youth and share Puerto Rican heritage with Latinos and other communities across the country.
4. Education, Employment and Economic Opportunity
The NPRA will work with elected officials, educational advocates, communities and school districts to implement a community empowerment strategy for strengthening the educational pipeline from pre-K through college, one that significantly reduces the drop-out rate among Puerto Rican youth, and supports high school graduation, youth's transition to adulthood, college completion and pathways to economic opportunity.
NPRA will work with elected officials, and community and educational advocates to implement a community empowerment strategy for creating, strengthening and expanding pathway programs providing school-to-work transition programs (e.g., technical training) for Puerto Rican youth 16 to 24 years of age who are not at school or work.
NPRA will work with elected officials, educational advocates and higher education professionals to implement a community empowerment strategy to close the gap in college enrollment, transition from two-year to four-year institutions, and graduation rates among Puerto Ricans.
NPRA will work with elected officials, community advocates and business leaders to implement a community empowerment strategy to support the transition from the low wage labor market into jobs and occupations that offer family-sustaining wages, health benefits, pensions and to close occupational disparities among Puerto Ricans.
Employment & Economic Development
The NPRA encourages local and state NPRA chapters to develop a local Education, Employment and Economic Development Agenda that includes local action items and priorities tailored to local and state needs. This local and state Agenda should include: a) identification of local/state/national resources and best practices that can be harnessed to promote education, employment and economic development; b) establishing broad-based partnerships that include CBOs (especially Puerto Rican organizations), the education system, foundations, corporations, higher education institutions, and small business, to coordinate and implement actions and programs that promote an education pipeline to economic opportunity; c) actions to mobilize the Puerto Rican community around education, employment and economic development; and c) advocacy for state and local policies that enhance educational, employment and economic development opportunities.
The employment and economic development component of this local and state Agenda should focus on entrepreneurship. In order to promote Puerto Rican entrepreneurship, the NPRA encourages local/state chapters to develop, as resources allow, Digital Business Education and Development Centers, one-stop-shops that provide: a) education and information to prospective entrepreneurs/businesspeople; b) a platform for creating networks of entrepreneurs and businesspeople; c) information on access to capital and assistance in securing capital to start/expand businesses; d) information on employment opportunities/employment resources; and e) information on business/employment opportunities specifically for professionals and others recently migrated from Puerto Rico.
5. Health Disparities; Environment and Community Development
The NPRA recognizes that access to quality, affordable healthcare for all, is a fundamental human right and not a political issue, therefore, NPRA supports the development of public health efforts aimed at the elimination of health disparities in Puerto Rican communities and families, thus creating health equity for all marginalized individuals regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, social status, sexual orientation, immigration or economic status. This includes but is not limited to:
- Access to early detection programs.
- Development of programs aimed at prevention and control of chronic diseases prevalent in Puerto Rican communities such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, asthma, cancer and obesity.
- The inclusion of Community Health Workers as part of the continuum of care in Puerto Rican communities.
6. Millennial Migration and Post Maria Migration
The unfolding economic, social and political crisis in Puerto Rico affects all Puerto Ricans whether they are island-based or stateside residents. The last decade’s exodus accelerated after the impact of Hurricane Maria inducing a recent wave of migrants to communities across the country. NPRA members have been at the forefront of advocacy efforts to support services to evacuees and their incorporation in local communities. We call on federal agencies and local governments to renew efforts to provide culturally sensitive services to Puerto Rican families in need of health, housing, education, employment and other social services.
Advocacy for Puerto Rican Evacuees: The NPRA calls on Federal authorities, in particularly FEMA, HUD, and HHS, as well as local authorities to use all the resources and expertise available to:
- Support and assist with the transition of Puerto Rican families who have resettled stateside post-Maria so that they may become productive members of their communities.
- Extend housing aid to displaced Puerto Rican families until return to Puerto Rico or are able to transfer to local housing.
SOURCE: 2018 NPRA Convention