In response to the piece written by Gloria Quiñones and Willie Gerena about the Julia de Burgos situation.
By Luis Cordero, Cemi Underground
Cemi Underground has done events at the Taller for the past year and I fully support the Taller in its stance against the City and Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Gloria and Willie have embarked on a campaign with Melissa and others to discredit the organizations at the Julia de Burgos… As you know there have been plenty of cultural events taking place there besides what I’ve done and including Los Pleneros de la 21 who’ve done afternoon programs there, and the Danisarte theatrical events. The theater has been underused, no one denies that but, that space is under the city’s control, they are the one’s responsible for its lack of use. There could be more events at the Julia de Burgos Center, that’s for sure but, I don’t think it’s because the Taller prevents them from happening. Melissa is using this as an excuse to escalate her battle against the Taller and she and her people have little if any support among the artistic community in El Barrio. Melissa’s camp is the one distorting the issue and have hurled vicious, careless and baseless charges against the Taller.
The Taller has not been perfect in their management of this space but they pay rent to the city for the space and it is not right that the city/EDC come in one day and tell them that they are taking it away from them the next. Even though the lease for that space is month to month there is such a thing as due process. If the Taller was behind on the rent, which they are not, then the city could make a legitimate case. On a technicality alone the city is wrong and Gloria, as a lawyer, should know that. Now she is claiming that the City is coming to save the arts in El Barrio. As progressive individuals who have struggled against government abuse and neglect, we should know better than that.
This article confirms what we suspected all along that it was Melissa’s bright idea to try to take that space away from the Taller. She is the one who initiated the action by the city against the Julia de Burgos’ space. Melissa is on a warpath not just against the Taller but against many of the Puerto Rican organizations in El Barrio. She has tried to take funds away from an established non-profit organization that runs two senior citizen homes in El Barrio, she has threatened to take away the permit of the the 111th Street Stickball organization’s event next year because they would not allow her to speak at the event this summer and she has made empty promises to the Fiesta Folklorica organization in their struggle to continue the Fiesta in Central Park. If she and her camp are really concerned about the arts in El Barrio then she should go to the city to give a helping hand to the Fiesta Folklorica. Melissa is using her position to go after her enemies who happen to be major Puerto Rican organizations.
Cemi Underground would have completely ceased to exist if it wasn’t for Fernando and Marcos partnering with me to allow me to do the events in that space. Events that Melissa and Gloria and Willie attended. So I urge you and your friends not to support Melissa and the city in their unjust crusade.