Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure to accept this award.
I feel honored to be recognized by the Hispanic Federation.
But this award really belongs to the Open Society Foundations.
The Federation and my foundation have a lot in common and share the same concerns.
We have worked in partnership over many years on important issues such immigration, the protection of the undocumented, and voting rights.
Most recently we have collaborated to assist Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans, both on the island and on the mainland.
Let me take this occasion to tell you a little about that work in which I also participated in my personal capacity.
We had been active is supporting civil society in Puerto Rico for some years, but we redoubled our efforts after the Hurricane Maria.
This was not because we are good at traditional disaster relief. Many organizations do this far better than we do.
It was because Maria exposed the legacy of the unfair relationship between Puerto Rico and the rest of the United States.
This relationship has deprived Puerto Ricans of a political voice in Washington.
It has left the people there vulnerable to the whims of Congress and the White House.
Perhaps most important, it has deprived Puerto Rico’s civil society of the oxygen it needs to take on pressing challenges – such as poverty, poor health, poor education, inadequate housing, too much debt, and expensive electricity that uses fossil fuels.
This is why our form of disaster relief has been to support local grassroots organizations, to help them fight for the rights of Puerto Rican communities, to help them press for transparency and accountability. This is why we are helping local organizations develop a new, sustainable economic model for Puerto Rico.
We are helping Puerto Ricans amplify their voices in Washington. We are helping them rebuild an electricity system that is more resilient, cheaper and makes Puerto Rico part of the Green New Deal.
In my personal capacity, I have also made a commitment to help the Puerto Rican community develop political muscle, particular in Florida.
Those efforts have centered on helping to elect Puerto Rican to public office and to mobilize Puerto Rican voters.
Thank you to the Federation and also to all of my colleagues at OSF.