Dinah Aponte is a long time Buffalo resident, and has written for Hispano Pamorana, La Ultima Hora, and now serves as a columnist for the Buffalo Latino Village. She is also a community activist, involved in working with groups like PUSH Buffalo, and the Puerto Rican/Latino Committee (PRLC), and serves as the lead advocacy spokesperson for tenants at Pine Harbor Apartments, a building being faced with gentrification.
SUCKING THE BLOOD OUT OF OUR COMMUNITY
June 2020 Issue
I am so frustrated at the dramatic change our Latino West Side has succumbed to. No longer see Latino people walking down our neighborhoods; now, all I see is White Europeans (professionals/college students/preppies). What is going on here? Gentrification in the making? A good example is 925-926 West Avenue. Is this building available for affordable housing, at least 30% of it?? NO!!!!
Down the street on 10th Street/Virginia Street, we have a Methadone clinic, and most of the clients are not people of color. They are young and older white (Europeans) faces, and none speak Spanish.
Can you believe that we are accommodating two hundred plus heroin addicts in this facility called, Alba De Vida (PROMESA.), a program funded by a New York City operation run by the brother who administers and heads the program on Virginia Street, based at the Hispanics United of Buffalo (HUB).
Here is information I found based on my initial research:
A 10th Street resident was going to the store with her 4-year old daughter and a heroin dealer offered her “Manteca” (heroin in Spanish). The resident reprimanded him and asked the dealer if he would please not mention those things in front of her child. The heroin dealer responded: “Business is business, I have to make money.” All she would replay is, “please, I want my family to stay and be safe.”
This led me to the question: What has our Puerto Rican/Latino Councilman David Rivera (Niagara District Council), and his supporters, accomplished for our community?? I will tell you: Gentrification has taken over; and, a run-down and neglected public library was named after a well-known community leader, Isaias Gonzalez-Soto.
I visit this Library regularly, and it needs a lot of repairs and renovation. There is an election coming up in the 149th Assembly District. Please do yourself a favor: there are three candidates running in the primary on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020. Do not vote for JON RIVERA He has no ties whatsoever in our community.
If you want to see a change for the better, vote for one of the two candidates – Adam Bojak or Roberto Quintana. These two candidates really care about our lower west side community. Rivera was put up by the political machine, a machine sucking blood out of our community.
We are ready for a real change! Our COMUNIDAD is in jeopardy. Just look around and ask yourself: “What positive changes have Puerto Ricans/Latinos experienced in the last five or ten years? Where is our growth and development? I do not see it! Do you???
LATINOS DECLARE WAR ON THE CORONAVIRUS
May 2020 Issue
It’s March 14th, 2020, and I go to my Facebook page, which is always the first thing I do in the morning. I had meetings and events to attend, but I find out, thanks to Facebook, that most, if not all, were cancelled due to the Coronavirus. The Women of Color and the Citizen Action organization’s protest and event were canceled. I was completely surprised to also find out, again, thanks to Facebook, that a chain of other social events, schools, and public places, were all cancelled and closed as well.
It’s now a few weeks and yet, another social event, has been CANCELED.
I’ve spoken to relatives, family members, colleagues, as well as following social media, realizing that this Coronavirus must be taken very seriously, and one must stay home.
However, as for myself, as an active community person, especially in the lower West Side, I had this question to ask myself: How long will this last? How will my community be affected?
I had to go out, find out how my community was reacting to the virus. Who was out there helping my community? I was very concerned. As I drove through the community, I found a ghost town, very few people out, some with masks and gloves, some without either and without a worry in the world. I kept driving around, looking for some sign of normality, but none.
I parked the car and went into Price Rite to find it had a few customers, and everyone was keeping their distance from each other, the right thing to do; made a lot of sense. However, I noticed people walking around without masks and gloves.
At that moment, I prayed this virus will pass and leave us alone. I then decided to take a ride and cruise through the downtown area. I found the same thing – limited number of people, keeping their distance, and no masks and gloves. Next stop, I drove to Family Dollar, I found the same scenario, then I drove to the Harbor, and I found a ghost town. Everything was at a standstill.
On April 3rd, my publisher, Alberto O. Cappas, called me and told me he needed my help in putting Coronavirus informational/educational posters on Niagara Street and other parts of the lower West Side community. (see photos). When my publisher calls, I respond, and I delivered. By the time I was finished, we had signs all over the lower West Side, with three or four different messages on the posters.
On April 16, Cappas called a meeting with several people already involved in working with the Latino community, especially in handling-out masks and delivering food to the elderly, a project started by Christian Parra, a young activist who works with the Citizen Action Organization. The initial meeting also included: Gioraira Hernandez, Luz Velez, Adam Bojak, Dennis Matos, and yours truly, Dinah Aponte.
While Cappas and Aponte were already distributing a limited amount of masks and putting up posters (thanks to Roberto Quintana, who donated the funds for the posters and masks), the group worked on organizing a complete strategy to cover communities beyond the lower West Side, like BMHA, Sedita Apartments, and other senior citizen centers or homes.
Limited in funds, the group reached out to several groups, like the PUSH organization which also contributed $1,000 for masks and posters, and Jose C. Pizarro who contributed $100. Lillian Orsini, a former founder of the Hispanic Women’s League who now lives in Florida, and who writes a monthly column for the Latino Village. We also received masks from Buffalo Resilience, and Ellen Davis (from Florida).
We will keep our readers and community posted and informed of our community activity. Please stay home until this virus blows over and the quarantine is lifted. Wear your mask, wash your hands thoroughly, and please STAY HOME, until all this blows over and even after this quarantine is lifted. Still wear your mask, wash your hands thoroughly, even if you don’t have a low immune system. This virus does not discriminate.
Good luck, prayers, and stay home, safe, and healthy. God be with you and family. Peace, Dinah Aponte.
THE FIGHT CONTINUES!
Puerto Rico se Levantara, Como Siempre!
March 2020 Issue
I was inspired by Alberto O. Cappas to pursue community activism, and I am absolutely inspired by participating in making a difference within our Latino/people of color community.
Since my renewal involvement, I have attended several meetings against gentrification in my lower west side community. I have rallied for affordable housing, tenant rights, an end to homelessness, and fighting for climate justice to save our planet from pollution and destruction.
I remember January 27, 2020 very well, as it was my first protest of the year and I was very excited and not able to sleep. By 4:30 am, I was ready to go. It was a clear night. My block club vice-president was supposed to join me but did not. I picked up several youth PUSH members on my way to the meeting place. We met at School 77, everyone was there, waiting to leave for Albany to make our presence, to make noise.
And by 5:50 am, we were on our way, together, in a Coach Bus.
We made a pit stop in Rochester, NY, picked up more protesters there. We practiced chants, repeatedly, led by Geovanni Hernandez and Luz Velez.
We arrived in Albany at 10:30 am, and everyone got off the bus, we followed one another into this giant, white building, known as the Capital building. We went through security, towards the million dollars staircase. We were all there, people from across New York State – from Buffalo, Grand Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, Rochester, Syracuse, all the way from the Adirondacks, and we were demanding CLIMATE JUSTICE!
Led by our very own, community activist Luz Velez, hundreds of us sat there blocking the governor’s office main entrance, yelling, “Governor Cuomo, do your job!”
Since then, I continue my community activism, I’m honored to be part of this movement, as I know that public discourse and protests, and rallies does make a big difference, and I’m very fortunate to be part of the solution, and not the problem.
I’ve attended other protests this past month, lobbying for home guarantee, fighting for tenant and homeowner rights, more secure public housing, & an end to homelessness.
We need to save the environment, we need to go solar, and we NEED to stop the FRACKING which is sucking the very blood out of our planet, causing destruction, pollution, and yes, earthquakes.
Get involved in the right issues, help save the planet, if not for you, for our children, for our future generation.
PR EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND
Puerto Rico se Levantara, Como Siempre!
February 2020 Issue
As the island continues to recover from continuous earthquakes, Puerto Ricans across the globe, along with those from the sports industry and here, in Buffalo, N.Y., are voicing their solidarity with the natives impacted by the earthquakes.
How could the Trump administration deny, hold back and limit relief funds to the people impacted by the earthquake disaster? The people of the island of Puerto Rico are American citizens, entitled to the same rights and dignified treatment, as any North American. The proof is for the eyes to see, the destruction, more than obvious … The earthquake tremor rattled the cities, towns and villages, destroyed houses, churches, schools and bridges, no electric for days, weeks, maybe months, for some places and locations in the island.
Right here in our home base, Buffalo, NY, people like Wilmer Olivencia, Nadia Pizarro, Lucy Candelario and others, reacted immediately, reaching out to who’s who in the Puerto Rican/Latino community, holding several meetings at the Belle Center, and organized everyone under the umbrella “P.R. Earthquake Relief fund”, to solicit the necessary needs for the people of Puerto Rico.
About two or three days later (Saturday, January 18th), a press conference was held, hosted by Lucy Candelario, attended by Mayor Brown, Councilman David Rivera, and other elected officials, the meeting was coordinated by Nadia Pizarro (press officer) and Lucy Candelario (executive director, Belle Center).
Once the word got out, support and donations started coming in. Monetary donations were made by the Puerto Rican & Hispanic Day Parade, presented by Charlie Torres, PRACA, presented by Wilmer Olivencia, and the Veterans Memorial Association, presented by Ventura Colon. Catholic Charities and M&T Bank reached out and are working with the committee. Nadia Pizarro said a Facebook page was set up, “PR Earthquake Relief Fund”, where you can go for information and how you can help or donate.
It should be noted that this is the same group that came together two years ago to help with the hurricane Maria, raising over $200,000 dollars, plus providing ground assistance to hurricane victims that relocated to western New York.
Please get involved and see how you too can assist Puerto Rico, right here from Buffalo, NY, by working together with the PR Earthquake Relief Fund. For information, contact Lucy A. Candelario, Executive Director, The Belle Center, 104 Maryland Street, Buffalo, NY 14201 – Tel. 716-845-0485, ext. 202 – Email: email@example.com.
Checks can be made out to the PR Earthquake Relief Fund, and mailed to the Belle Center, to the attention of Lucy Candelario.
Note: The PR Earthquake Relief Fund is made up of the following community leaders (list in progress): Lucy Candelario, Wilmer Olivencia, Nadia Pizarro, Casimiro Rodriguez, Tamara Alsace, Gliset Colón, Councilman David Rivera, Maritza Vega, Jose Chegui Rivera, Oswaldo Mestre, Miguel Santos, John Sanabria Sr., Luis Reyes, Felicia Cruz, Hector Pagan, Victoria Perez, Aileen Gonzalez Marti, Yolanda Martinez-Rodriguez, Viviana C-Y, Charles Torres, Eugenio Russi, Ramos, David Caban, Wilda, Nadia Nashir, Alicia Barinas, Taina Rodriguez, Alicia, Beatriz Flores, Christian Parra, Geo Hernandez, Victoria Perez, Solomon Joseph, Ventura Colon, and Jose C. Pizarro.
THE IMMIGRANTS ARE COMING, THE IMMIGRANTS ARE COMING – A Series
January 2020 Issue
What you need to know about CARRP, a program started in 2008, it stands for, “Controlled Application Review, and Resolution Program.”
If you are a U.S. Immigrant, and a Middle Eastern, South Asian, Arab, or Muslim Heritage, the program can be an application for the green card, naturalization, and the immigration forms are always in an indefinite holding pattern.
When an individual is placed on CARRP list, they are presumed to be on the “Terrorist List”, presumed to be a terrorist, classified by government agencies that work to see if the person, is, in fact, a terrorist, or a security threat. The individual is never notified, they are placed on “the list”, nor are they provided the opportunity to challenge their placement. Once on “the list”, it is very difficult to be removed from it.
CARRP has been repeatedly criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigration Law Center, and the Council of the American Islamic Relations, on the grounds that the program or policy is unconstitutional.
In 1952, Congress passed the Immigration, and National Act, which made it unlawful to deny U.S. citizenship to anyone based on an Immigrant’s Race. ACLU continues the fight to protest the rights of the immigrant community, which accuses the United States of delaying a naturalization application for years or turned to an unlawful denial, a practice most aimed at Muslims.
The battle continues….
THE IMMIGRANTS ARE COMING, THE IMMIGRANTS ARE COMING
December 2019 Issue
This is the new era of the immigrants entering the United States! I have noticed a drastic difference between then and now, here in Buffalo, New York. Nationalities I’ve never even heard of, such as, Mandarin, is totally new to me. I decided to investigate, conduct research on the subject. Here is my first article on the subject: More will come, as I intend to learn more about the immigration problem — curious of the statistics at hand, statistics here in the U.S.A., and other countries.
In absolute numbers, the United States has a larger immigrant population than any other country, with 47 million as of 2015. The U.S. foreign born population reached 47 million, and is predicted to reach 78 million, there are twenty Metropolitan areas with the longest number of immigrants. Wow, now that is a lot! According to the 2016 immigrant statistics, the U.S. admitted 1.18 million legal Immigrants. Of these, 48% were immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, 20% were family-sponsored, 13% refugee, and asylum seekers, 12% were employment based preference, 4.2% were part of Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, persons admitted under the Nicaraguan, and Central American Relief Act, children born subsequent to the issuance of a parent’s Visa, and certain parolees from the from Soviet Union, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, who were denied refugee status.
1.4% were victims of a crime, or their family members, and 1.0% who were granted the Special Immigrant Visa, (SIV) for Iraqis, and Afghans employed by U.S. government.
The remaining 0.4%, including 0.2% who were ranted suspension or deportation, as an immigrant relative of a citizen. As for our good neighbor across the border, Canada’s popularity is the immigrants’ preferred destination. It has been increasing over the past two decades, with a total of 303,257 immigrants coming to the country in 2018. This figure has minimized, since 2016, when about 323,190 immigrants came to Canada, which is more than the estimated 199,170 immigrants in 2003.
With this extreme population of immigrants, could the U.S. become over-populated in the future? It’s a wonder why President Trump is trying to control the number of people crossing our borders.
First part of a series on immigration, by Dinah Aponte.
PUSH BUFALO RISING
People United for Sustainable Housing
September 2019 Issue
We Fight for Justice! We fight for our community! Gentrification is real, happening in our lower west side Latino Community, thus obligating low income people to move out of the Westside Latino Community, seeking affordable housing. That is why we are alongside with the PUSH organization to help this from happening or try to put a stop to this invasion.
PUSH (PEOPLE United for Sustainable housing) was founded in 2005, by Aaron Bartley and Eric Walker, two organizers with labor-based experience. It employs more than forty (40) people and has renovated over one hundred (100) homes. Another organization, Partnership for Public Good (PPG), is a community-based “think tank” that builds a more just, sustainable, and culturally vibrant Buffalo through action-oriented research, policy development and citizen engagement (involvement).
In coalition, working together PUSH, PPG and Cornell University, it host “Buffalo Commons”, which includes a digital library about western New York, and a research of social, economic, and political tools for community to work together, led by PUSH – People United for Sustainable Housing.
As a Latina and member of PUSH for the past year, I’ve been able to learn and develop an understanding about housing, gentrification, and the workings or mission of the organization. I’ve played an active role on behalf the Latino residents. I’ve participated in social and political protests, and I was involved in a major protest on “Climate Change” in Albany, NY. I’m very honored to be part of this movement, to be part of fighting for Justice for our community, especially for our people at 10 7th Street Block Club, fighting along with the Vice-President, Vashon Fuller.
This is just the beginning! It is going to be a long fight for justice, for fair housing, rent control, to benefit the citizens of our communities. Join us in the struggle to make a difference for you, your family, and our future generation.
My involvement with PUSH is made possible by the support of John Washington, Luz Velez, and Christian Parra, they are great organizers and very community oriented, and they are on top of the issues.
Join and contact PUSH Buffalo today, or feel free to stop by School 77, located at 429 Plymouth Avenue, Buffalo, NY. Our telephone number is 716-398-1560. Stand up and Fight Back!
Note to the Latino community: Listen and pay attention!: Our Latino community is being invaded with gentrification; this means that developers, and with government support, are finding ways to take away our Latino community by replacing us with people of money, to take and occupy our apartments, our houses, leading to the disappearance of the Latino community. Get involve and join PUSH to push them OUT!
Your Latino Voice is essential to our growth and development, and respect! We do speak Spanish – 716-398-1560
MIRA LATINO, CHECK OUT THESE PLACES BEFORE THE SUMMER MOVE ON!
August 2019 Issue
This summer, at least before its over, make sure to visit some of the places I’m recommending for you to visit and experience. What’s a summer without visiting Buffalo’s unique places this season?
1: Buffalo Zoo, 300 Parkside, Buffalo, N.Y. (https://buffalozoo.org): Beautiful 23.5 acre zoo, one of the oldest in the US, includes lions, tigers, bison’s, giraffes, elephants, exotic birds, sea lions; an inside reptile exhibit; an exotic bird indoor exhibits, and more.
2: Canalside (https://www.canalsidebufflo.com/): Take a nice long walk at Canalside Buffalo’s Waterfront, there’s the giant sandbox called the beach, games tables, playground, boat rentals, biking, boat tours, and eating, activities for the entire family.
3: Tifft Nature Preserve ((http://www.tifft.org/): 264 acres, along with 5 miles of nature trails, home to ponds,, marshes, and woodlands, great for long walks, hiking, exploring and bird watching; learn about the flora, and fauna.
4: Buffalo Botanical Gardens (https//buffalogarden.com/): You don’t have to get right out into the mountains or plains to enjoy what mother nature has created! You can have a beautiful experience right in the heart of New York State, a natural historic site, so kids can not only play, but learn a great deal too
5: Buffalo Harbor State Park (http://parks.ny.gov/191/details.aspx): First state park in Buffalo, boasting beautiful views of Lake Erie, home to a 1,100 slip marina, a restaurant, boat launches, personal watercraft launches, fish cleaning station, and a beach for strolling and sunbathing, a nautical themed playground great for kids of all ages.
6: Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park (https://buffalonavalpark.org/): The largest inland naval park in the U.S. featuring several decommissioned U.S. Naval vessels; USS Little Rock, USS The Sullivans, and the USS Croaker which are all open for tours. Located at Buffalo’s waterfront, the park includes indoor museum exhibits that are great for families, groups, and events; and don’t forget to visit our memorial dedicated to our Latino soldiers.
7: Adventure Landing (https:buffalo.adventurelanding.com/): Take your children to Adventure Landing for a round of mini-golf or indoors, enjoy the arcade (more than 60 games), and there’s also a Teddy Bear Factory, where children can create their own teddy Bear.
8: Buffalo Bison’s (https://www.mil.com/buffalo/ballpark/sahlen-field): Cheer and root for the minor league in a stadium seating as you munch on pop-corn and enjoy a cold beer, along with family and friends.
9: Buffalo Harbor Cruises (https://www.buffaloboatcruises.com): Allow yourself to enjoy a boat cruise along the Erie canal, and enjoy the distant view of the city of Buffalo’s skyline.
10: Kelkenberg Farm (http://www.kelkenbergfarm.com/): A family operated business open for educational tours, family visits, large events and group parties for all ages year-round; a real livestock and horse farm that has been welcoming farm visitors since 1980.
June 2019 Issue
We have a serious issue going on in this city regarding absentee slumlords within the Ellicott district and throughout the city of Buffalo, NY, coming to light in the death of two innocent children, and other unfortunate incidents.
This particular Slumlord rented out his house on Shirley Street after another tenant moved out because of a dispute they had between each other, involving the neglected dangerous electrical wires throughout the house. Instead of addressing the issue, this landlord rented the house out to a single mom with three children, and tragically, resulting into a serious electrical house fire that claimed the lives of two of her three children.
Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen wants residents to be able to contact absentee landlords and be able to enforce the owner to repair the issues with their house or apartment flats. He also started a campaign called “Operation Slumlord” by placing signs in front of the neglected property with the full identification of this particular slumlord/landlord information.
Is that enough to enforce these neglectful slumlords to do what they have to do? I don’t think so! Yet when a woman and her child got ran over at the Scajaquada Expressway, the Buffalo News, Channel 2, 4, and 7 did a full coverage for over a week, plus forced the city to changed the speed limit on the Scajaquada Expressway to 30 mph.
What is wrong with this picture? You figure. Absentee landlords should be held liable for wrongful deaths. Because of their negligence, they should face severe penalties, lawsuits and even jail time. Zero tolerance, no exceptions, this situation needs to be addressed and dealt with immediately. More to come!