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Esperanza Academy Charter High School dancers perform at the Puerto Rican flag raising ceremony at Philadelphia City Hall. Photo: David Maas / AL DÍA News
Esperanza Academy Charter High School dancers perform at the Puerto Rican flag raising ceremony at Philadelphia City Hall. Photo: David Maas / AL DÍA News

In wake of Maria, Philadelphia raises Puerto Rico’s flag

“This Puerto Rican Week, let’s celebrate our rich diversity and the positive impact that our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters have on our communities,” said…

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Just over a year after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Philadelphia raised Puerto Rico’s flag at City Hall today to kick off a week of festivities celebrating the Puerto Rican community and its contributions to the city.

Mayor Jim Kenney, Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez and U.S. Congressman Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania’s 13th District all spoke at the event, which also featured a performance by the Esperanza Academy Charter High School Dance Ensemble.

“It’s always important to celebrate the contributions that Puerto Ricans make on the cultural fabric of our city, but it’s even more significant this year,” Mayor Kenney said in a statement. “As we recognize the one year anniversary of the day that Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, we’re reminded that the hurricane took so many lives and displaced countless others – some of whom relocated here and now call Philadelphia home. This Puerto Rican Week, let’s celebrate our rich diversity and the positive impact that our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters have on our communities.”

Attendees held a moment of silence for the 3,000 Americans killed during last year’s hurricane. The crowd also proudly recognized the $390,000 in aid raised by Philadelphians through the hurricane relief fund, Unidos Pa’ Puerto Rico, to be sent to the still-recovering island.

Given the sharp rise in the hurricane’s official death toll from 64 to 2,975 following a recently released independent study conducted by George Washington University—and the continued doubt raised over the findings by President Trump—it is little surprise that he and his administration were not far from people’s minds today.

“It’s one thing to lose lives because of a natural disaster. But it’s another thing to lose lives because of a failure of government,” said Rep. Boyle, in a clear rebuke of the Trump administration’s handling of last year’s natural disaster. “That must never be allowed to happen anywhere, especially to our fellow Americans.”

This week’s festivities will continue this Sunday at the Puerto Rican Day Parade along the Ben Franklin Parkway. The annual event, which has been running for over 50 years now, typically hosts 1,500 marchers and attracts 5,000 people. This year’s theme will be “The Rebirth of Puerto Rico.”

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