The Governor of Puerto Rico will speak at Harvard Wednesday during his two-day visit as part of Semana Puertorriquena or Puerto Rico Week.
Rafael Hernandez-Colon, a member of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) will deliver a public address at Harvard's Carpenter Center on March 4, immediately after receiving a Harvard Foundation citation honoring his "outstanding contributions to governmental leadership and international cooperation," according to the Foundation.
After his speech, the Governor will open an exhibition by the celebrated Puerto Rican portrait artist, Francisco Rodon, which will be the artist's first showing on the U.S. mainland. The show will run through March 11.
"Semana Puertorriquena is a cross-cultural attempt to bring a non-politicized picture of Puerto Rico to the United States and Harvard," said Jaime M. Capella '88, co-ordinator of activities for La Organizacion Estudiantil Boricua de Harvard-Radcliffe (LAO), which is the Puerto Rican students association.
"For too long Puerto Rico has suffered from a policy of benign neglect by the United States, which is a shame because Puerto Rico is in an unique position in a sort of limbo between the United States and Latin America, so it is so important that the U.S. learn more about us to better communicate with Latin American nations," said Capella.
LAO is sponsoring the week's conferences and festivities and invited the Governor, economists, artists and writers to visit under the auspices of the Harvard Foundation, Capella said.
"Presenting this objective view of Puerto Rico represents the new attitude of LAO. It was founded as an activist group, advocating independence for the island, and in 1980, members burned American flags in front of John Harvard's statue. But now LAO is trying to unify all the groups," said Mariana Ortiz-Blanes '89.
Until this week, LAO achieved greatest recognition in the last few years from its Salsa party, members said. Although another party is planned this year, "The purpose of this week is to show Americans that there is more to Puerto Rico than Salsa, rum and status politics," said Ortiz-Blanes.