Culmina Exitosamente en Puerto Rico Cumbre de Líderes del Concilio Nacional Dominico Americano

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Culmina Exitosamente en Puerto Rico Cumbre de Líderes de

Acentuacion Omitida
English translation follows

Washington, DC (22 de agosto del 2011).- Culminó exitosamente la Primera Cumbre de Líderes de la Mesa Redonda Dominico Americana y su Concilio Nacional llevada a cabo el sábado 20 de agosto del presente en la Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rio, Recinto Metro.

La Cumbre titulada, “Dominicanos en Puerto Rico e Islas Vírgenes: Contribución, Participación y Prosperidad”, congregó más de doscientas personas.

Entre los dignatarios y líderes que participaron se lista Su Excelencia Aníbal de Castro, Embajador de la República Dominicana en los Estados Unidos, el Cónsul General de la República Dominicana en Puerto Rico el Hon. Máximo Taveras, la Honorable Donna M. Christensen, Congresista que representa las Islas Vírgenes ante el Congreso de los Estados Unidos, el Hon. Eduardo Bhatia Gautier, Senador Por Acumulación y entre otros, la legisladora Carmen Yulin Cruz, y el Dr. Hugo M. Morales, Síndico de la Universidad de la Ciudad de Nueva York (CUNY) y Asesor del Presidente Leonel Fernández.

Los talleres resonando los temas “capacitación de líderes, desarrollo de destrezas de cabildeo y representación, desarrollo económico y activismo comunal”, provocaron ideas y pronunciamientos sobre cómo deben proceder los dominicanos en Puerto Rico e Islas Vírgenes Americanas hacia un apoderamiento genuino, de parte de los panelistas, participantes y oradores invitados.

En el taller “Participación y Cabildeo”, encabezado por el Ex Gobernador de Puerto Rico Aníbal Acevedo Vilá y el Sr. Joel Montalvo de Optim Group, los participantes reaccionaron con expresiones de “Ya es hora” y “Hace tiempo que se debió hacer”, a la exposición de Acevedo Vila de que los dominicanos deben participar activamente e influir en el funcionamiento de todos los partidos políticos de Puerto rico, si han de alcanzar justa representación y participación en la isla. El Senador por acumulación Eduardo Bhatia Gautier llevó el concepto más lejos, sugiriendo en sus comentarios al mediodía, “la creación del Partido Dominicano Puertorriqueño para exigir reformas importantes”.

En el taller sobre apoderamiento económico “Enlace Empresarial”, encabezado por Luis Torres Llompart, Presidente del Enlace Empresarial Republica Dominicana, Puerto Rico y el Caribe, y el Arq. Pablo Figueroa, Presidente Electo de la Cámara de Comercio de Puerto Rico, se dilucidaron con entusiasmo las numerosas oportunidades de intercambio empresarial y comercial que ambas islas tienen a su disposición y que estimulan desarrollo económico y prosperidad.

En “Labor Cívica en Equipo: Organización y mobilización de las comunidades para cambios sociales”, el Lic. Martin Pérez, Esq., Presidente de Alianza de Liderazgo Latino de New Jersey, enfocó la necesidad de crear un organismo que estimule y promueva el apoderamiento político de los dominicanos en Puerto Rico, protegiéndolo de toda influencia partidista puertorriqueña y dominicana que puedan afectar negativamente su objetivo. Ofreció como modelo, la estructura de La Alianza de Liderazgo Latino de New Jersey, organización que agrupa organizaciones Latinas en el estado y funciona libre de afiliaciones e influencia partidista.

En “Liderazgo: Estilos y Modelos”, la Dra. María Teresa Feliciano, condujo una sesión interactiva y reveladora que exploró los diversos estilos de liderazgo y su aplicación; a la vez que guió a los participantes en la identificación de su estilo personal de dirigir basado en la personalidad. El Dr. Alberto Correa, Catedrático Asociado, Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico revisó principios de liderazgo efectivo y equipó a los participantes con “herramientas” a usar en sus esfuerzos de dirigir una comunidad hacia una participación y representación genuina.

La exposición del Dr. Jorge Duany, Profesor de Antropología en la Universidad de Puerto Rico sobre el estatus de los dominicanos en Puerto Rico, sorprendió a los conferencistas, por sus bajos estimados en población y comunidad votante dominicana en Puerto Rico. Contrario a reportes extra-oficiales del Consulado Dominicano en Puerto Rico, La mesa Redonda Dominico Americana, el Centro de Desarrollo de la Mujer Dominicana y otras organizaciones comunales en Puerto Rico que reportan entre 250,000 a 350,000 dominicanos en Puerto Rico, el Dr. Duany reportó los 68,000, dijo, que reportó el Censo estadunidense. Líderes dominicanos en Puerto Rico refutaron vehementemente el reporte de Duany de sólo 15,000 votantes dominicanos y estimaron esta cifra sobre los 100,000.

La presentación de la Congresista de Islas Vírgenes Donna Christiensen sobre los dominicanos en su territorio destacó tanto el número aproximado de dominicanos (24,000 -30,000) como sus significativas contribuciones en las áreas empresarial, educacional, política y social, acertando que el futuro de Islas Vírgenes está estrechamente atado a su población dominicana.

Reportando sobre “Cuatro Décadas de Migración Femenina y Su Impacto en la Economía de Republica Dominicana”, la Dra. Irma Nicasio de la Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo provocó comentarios de aserción y verificación a su hallazgo de que la mujer dominicana migrante ha contribuido en mayor proporción a su contraparte a la económica dominicana, en las últimas cuatro décadas. La licenciada Vivian Díaz Saviñón ofreció verificación y expansión de estas aserciones, al ofrecer su informe sombre el estatus de la mujer dominicana en Puerto Rico.

El Honorable Embajador Dominicano en Los Estados Unidos, quien dirigió palabras de bienvenida y apoyo, fue refrescante, animador y certero en sus comentarios sobre el estatus de los dominicanos en Puerto Rico: “No se puede tolerar discrimen de ninguna manera y en ningún área”, dijo, en la sección plenaria del mediodía.

La participación del Sr. Francisco Ramírez, Presidente de Alianza Dominicana, ofreció un perfil del inmigrante dominicano /exiliado político de los años 60, que trayendo consigo su distinguido y rico trasfondo de lucha por una sociedad justa y representativa, se establece en Puerto Rico y hace su invaluable contribución profesional, personal y comunitaria a la isla por más de cinco décadas.

El Dr. Alberto Correa, Catedratico de la Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico y Asesor de la Mesa Redonda Dominico Americana, fue galardonado por la Presidente Feliciano con una placa de reconocimiento por su capacidad de convocatoria, labor, liderazgo y colaboracion en pos de que la Cumbre fuera todo un exito.

La cumbre concluyó con la juramentación de ocho concilios locales del Concilio Nacional Dominico Americano (NDAC), representando a las comunidades de Rio Piedras, Santurce, San Juan, Carolina, Canovanas, Trujillo Alto, Isla Verde, Puerto Nuevo, Saint Thomas, Levittown, Mayagüez, Caguas y Bayamón.

Néstor Montilla, Sr., Chairman de La Mesa Redonda Dominico Americana, presentó un perfil histórico de la organización, explicó la estructura y funcionamiento de los concilios locales y juramentó más de 50 nuevos miembros.

Transcripción literal de la Participación del Senador Eduardo Bhatia Gautier

Palabras del Hon. Eduardo Bhatia Gautier, Senador Por Acumulación de Puerto Rico, durante el almuerzo de la Primera Cumbre de Líderes de la Mesa Redonda Nacional Dominico Americana celebrada el sábado 20 de agosto del 2011 en la Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico (Recinto Metro).

Néstor Montilla, SR., Chairman de la Mesa Redonda Dominico-Americana, presentó al Senador Bhatia Gautier y le dio las gracias por participar en la Cumbre.

Senador Eduardo Bhatia Gautier:

Muchas gracias…señor Embajador, queridos amigos todos, estimado Cónsul presente y otras personas que están aquí; hermanos todos, muchas gracias. Yo solamente quería darles un fuerte abrazo a todos ustedes que estamos luchando en las mismas luchas, batallando del mismo lado siempre.

Hace muchos años me dijeron que yo era hijo honorario de la Republica Dominicana, espero que no me hayan excomulgado.

Voz no identificada del público: “Lo eres”.

Senador Bhatia Gautier continúa:

Lo somos todavía. Estamos ahí todavía.

Hoy yo quería simplemente con mi presencia dejarles saber que si el compromiso era grande hace 10 años o 15 años atrás cuando empezamos a trabajar ciertas cosas, hoy es mas grande.

Aun cuando los puertorriqueños no están luchando, por razones obviamente de que son ciudadanos americanos, en el área de lo que llaman “immigracion reform’, la reforma migratoria de los Estados Unidos, para mi ese es uno de los temas más importantes, uno de los temas más importante que yo he pedido a la Casa Blanca, que me incluyan. No para luchar precisamente, exclusivamente por los derechos de cerca de 40 millones, perdonen de 15 millones de mejicanos que están en esa frontera; es para luchar realmente por la cantidad enorme que hay de dominicanos, ya sea en Nueva York como en Puerto Rico, que tienen un status legal, que llevan anos, décadas y que requieren que se les considere ya inmediatamente para que sean residentes permanentes y puedan aspirar a la ciudadanía inmediatamente. Yo creo en eso. Voy a dar la batalla por eso. Creo que tenemos que seguir trabajando juntos en ese aspecto.

Este día de doy, pues les traigo un saludo breve. Así es que quiero ser muy breve.

Pero quiero felicitarlos antes de marcharme, y hacer una exhortación, si es posible; y es que algunos de ustedes, pues, como han vivido por muchos años en Puerto Rico están favorenciendo un partido u otro. Yo quisiera que creáramos hasta cierta medida, si es posible, el Partido Dominicano Puertorriqueño (aplausos).

Y ese partido, ese grupo, ese movimiento tiene que exigirle igual, igual, a todos los partidos en Puerto Rico. Tienen que exigirle. Y yo digo exigirle y no rogarle y no pedirle. Exigirles, y esas exigencias deber estar escritas en blanco y negro y si quieren que yo los ayude a redactar, yo los ayudo a redactar también porque yo entiendo que es hora ya, de que se comprometan y cumplan en este país con ciertas reformas importantísimas que hay que hacer en aéreas fundamentales en Puerto Rico.

Así es que, con ese pensamiento los dejo. Creo que el momento no es para lamentos. El momento es para actuar; es para la acción; es para trabajar; es para unirnos; es para requerirnos; es para estar seguros que provocamos. Es el momento de provocar, en el sentido bueno de la palabra. Vamos a provocar al país; vamos a llevar al país a una nueva cima. Y como decía alguien en el foro anterior, ‘este mundo digital nos cambio de un día para otro’. Yo estoy seguro, seguro, que los espacios políticos en Puerto Rico pueden cambiar de un día para otro y la participación puede ser mucho más grande en nuestra comunidad dominicana si lo trabajamos juntos. Muchas gracias. Que Dios los bendiga y que tengan un buen día (aplausos).

DANR publicará aquí en esta sección todas las transcripciones disponibles de los discursos emitidos durante la Cumbre.

Articulos publicados sobre la Cumbre:

Retos y oportunidades para dominicanos
Por: Ely Acevedo Denis 20/08/2011 5:10 pm
Noticel.com
Los retos y las oportunidades para que la comunidad dominicana se siga desarrollando tanto en República Dominicana como fuera del país, fueron los puntos sobre los cuales giró la Primera Cumbre Anual de Líderes Dominicanos en Puerto Rico e Islas Vírgenes. Mas detalles en: http://www.noticel.com/noticia/108993/retos-y-oportunidades-para-dominicanos.html

Cumbre sobre el aporte dominicano: Impulsan el desarrollo y apoderamiento de este sector
El Nuevo Dia
Las aportaciones de los dominicanos serán eje de la cumbre que ha convocado para hoy la corporación Mesa Redonda Dominico-Americana, y que se llevará a cabo de 8:00 a.m. a 5:00 p.m. en el recinto metropolitano de la Universidad Interamericana. Mas detalles en: http://www.elnuevodia.com/cumbresobreelaportedominicano-1044408.html

Estudian la inmigración dominicana en la Isla
Vital que se unan para que reclamen sus derechos Vídeo 21 Agosto 2011
El Nuevo Dia

La comunidad dominicana en Puerto Rico debe unirse para alzar su voz y participar en la política local y norteamericana y abogar por sus derechos. Esa fue la conclusión principal de la Primera Cumbre Anual de Líderes Dominicanos en Puerto Rico e Islas Vírgenes, celebrada ayer en el Recinto Metro de la Universidad Interamericana. Mas detalles en: http://www.elnuevodia.com/estudianlainmigraciondominicanaenlaisla-1045171.html

Sobre DANR
La Mesa Redonda Dominico-Americana (DANR), fundada en el 1997, es la única corporación 501(c) (3) no-partidista, sin fines de lucro y con sede en Washington, DC, con la misión de investigar y abogar a favor del desarrollo y fortalecimiento socio-económico y político de los hispanos y dominicanos en los Estados Unidos de América y sus territorios, incluyendo Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes Americanas.

Sobre NDAC
El Concilio Nacional Dominico-Americano (NDAC) es una entidad cívica de apoderamiento y participación funcionando mancomunadamente con la Mesa Redonda Nacional Dominico-Americana (DANR). NDAC esta compuesto por más de 120 concilios locales operando en los Estados Unidos con la función de determinar la agenda nacional en la convención anual y abogar por la prosperidad e intereses de nuestras comunidades en áreas concernientes al desarrollo humano en general, incluyendo educación, desarrollo económico, salud, inmigración y apoderamiento político.


English Version

DANR Successfully Concludes Leadership Summit in Puerto Rico

Washington, DC (August 22, 2011).-The Dominican American National Roundtable and its Dominican American Council successfully concluded its Leadership Summit in Puerto Rico on Saturday, August 20, 2011 at Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rio, Recinto Metro.

The Summit, entitled, “Dominicans in Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands: Contribution, Participation and Prosperity,” gathered over two hundred participants.

Among the dignitaries and leaders participating of the Summit were His Excellency Aníbal de Castro, Dominican Ambassador to the United States, Hon. Máximo Taveras, Consul General of Dominican Republic in Puerto Rico, Congresswoman Donna M. Christensen, of VUS Virgin Islands, Hon. Eduardo Bhatia Gautier, Senator at-large, and Dr. Hugo M. Morales, City Universty of New York (CUNY) Trustee and Advisor to President Leonel Fernández.

The workshops, revolving around the topics of leadership development, advocacy and lobbying skills, economic development and community activism, elicited ideas and pronouncements from participants, panelists and speakers about how Dominicans in Puerto Rico should proceed in their quest for true empowerment in Puerto Rico.

In the workshop “Advocacy and Representation”, headed by Former Governor of Puerto Rico Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, and Mr. Joel Montalvo of Optim Group, participant shouted “It’s about time” and “It should have been done long ago”, to Acevedo Vilá’s indication that Dominicans should participate and exert influence on the political parties in Puerto Rico, as a means to attain just representation and inclusion in the island. Senator Eduardo Bhatia Gautier took it further suggesting, during his comments at the luncheon, that “a Dominican-Puerto Rican Party should be created to demand direly needed reforms”.

In the economic empowerment workshop “Business Alliance”, by Mr. Luis Torres Llompart, President of Business Alliance Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, and Arq. Pablo Figueroa, President-Elect of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, the focus was the numerous business opportunities between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico that constitute the basis for economic development and prosperity for both islands.

In “Working As a Team: Organization and y Mobilization of Our Communities for Social Change, Martín Pérez, Esq., President of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, stressed the importance of creating a mechanism to promote empowerment of Dominicans in Puerto Rico, free of partisan influence from both, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, which could negatively affect the attainment of said empowerment. He offered the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey as a model.

In “Leadership Models and Styles”, Dr. María Teresa Feliciano, DANR President, conducted a revealing interactive session exploring the various leadership styles and their application. She led participants through the identification of their individual leadership style base don personality. Dr. Alberto Correa, Professor at Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico reviewed principles of effective leadership and offered participants “tools” to use in leading their community in its efforts for true participation and representation.

Dr. Jorge Duany, Anthropologist at Universidad de Puerto Rico, offered a dissertation on the status of Dominicans in Puerto Rico, and shocked the audience with surprisingly low numbers in Dominican population and Dominican voting population in Puerto Rico. Contrary to unofficial reports by the Dominican consulate in Puerto Rico, the Dominican American National Roundtable, Centro de desarrollo de la mujer dominicana and other organizations in Puerto Rico which estimate the Dominican population in Puerto Rico at 250,000 – 350,000 Dr. Duany reported 68,000, in accordance with the US Census 2010, he indicated. Dominican leaders in Puerto Rico, strongly refute Duany’s report of only 15,000 Dominican voters, putting that figure at approximately 100,000.

Congresswoman Donna Christiensen’s report about Dominicans in the Virgin Islands highlighted the size of the Dominican population (24,000 -30,000), as well as its many contributions en business, education, politics and society in general. The Congresswoman asserted that the future of the Virgin Islands is closely linked to its Dominican population.

While discussing her book “Four Decades of Feminine Migration and its Impact n the Economy of the Dominican Republic” and its findings that over the past four decades, migrant women have contributed in larger proportion than their counterpart to the Dominican economy, Dr. Irma Nicasio of Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo was met with approval and corroboration from conference participants. Lic. Vivian Díaz Saviñón confirmed Dr. Nicasio’s finding in her report about the status of migrant Dominican women in Puerto Rico.

The remarks of Hon. Aníbal de Castro, Dominican Ambassador to the United States who welcomed conference participants, were refreshing and assuring. “Discrimination in any form anywhere cannot be tolerated”, he said when discussing the status of Dominicans in Puerto Rico.

Mr. Francisco Ramírez, President of Alianza Dominicana, shared his immigrant story as a political exile that arrived in Puerto Rico in the 60’s with an impressive background in the struggle for a just and inclusive society. He has, for over five decades, contributed with his professional talent, personal worth and community activism to the island he now calls home.

Dr. Alberto Correa, Professor at Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico and member of the DANR National Advisory Board, was honored by President Feliciano for his leadership and colaboration in making the Summit possible.

The Summit concluded with the swearing-in of eight local councils of the National Dominican American Council representing the communities of Rio Piedras, Santurce, San Juan, Carolina, Canóvanas, Trujillo Alto, Isla Verde, Puerto Nuevo, Saint Thomas, Levittown, Mayagüez, Caguas and Bayamón.

Néstor Montilla, Sr., Chairman of the Dominican American Roundtable spoke about the history of the organization and the structure of DANR’s local councils.

Following U.S. Congresswoman Donna M. Christensen’s remarks:

CONGRESSWOMAN DONNA M. CHRISTENSEN
Dominican American National (DANR) Leadership Summit
“Dominicans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands:
Contribution, Participation and Prosperity”
Place: Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico
Saturday, August 20, 2011

Good Afternoon:

It is a pleasure for me to join my Dominican and Puerto Rican brothers and sisters to celebrate those of us who are from the Dominican Republic, their history with us, their contributions to us and our future together. In fact the destinies of all three places are inextricably linked.

I have had the pleasure of visiting the DR as a member of Congress several times. The first with USAID bringing aid after Hurricane George, but also as the first visit in recent years by the subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere with Chairman Ballinger and on several other occasions.

And of course it is always a pleasure for me to come to our neighboring Puerto Rico where I went to school for a year. And it is so good to see and be here with my former colleague of the real Democratic Party here in Puerto Rico, former Resident Commissioner and Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila.

In particular I am both honored and pleased to be invited to participate in this roundtable discussion and to speak about the contributions of Dominicans to the social, cultural and economic development of the United States Virgin Islands.

It has been a few years since we have been together – the Roundtable and I, but I am proud to say that we have a long relationship that has been fostered through many meetings in Washington and also at least one in Atlantic City. President Montilla, I am glad to see you are getting closer to the Virgin Islands. We look forward to having the Roundtable visit us next year as we continue the dialogue we begin today.

It would be great if it could be around the time of the Dominican grand parade. The Dominican Action Committee has held two so far and they have been big and successful events rivaling New York City and other places around the country. It is not only a good time to really see the depth and breadth of the community but also the support they have from officials and the rest of the community at large.

Los Dominicanos began migrating to the Virgin Islands in 1800s. It is believed that the first was Juan Pablo Duarte, political leader and the Founding Father of the Dominican Republic, who was deported to the then Danish West Indies. Today, an estimated 24,000 Dominicans live in the Virgin Islands- the result of the fourth of several historic migrations that have shaped the U.S. Virgin Islands of today.

So the first and most significant migration was the involuntary one that all of our Islands faced – the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Africans on whose backs and by whose sweat and blood our Islands were built. Although it began before, after slavery ended in 1848 the Afro descendant population aggressively and successfully forged a path to gradually take their place with the Danes that remained and the Americans that came in the commerce of the Islands and to then assume control of government.

Then In the first half of the 1900’s came the Puerto migration, which in itself has a tainted history because of the forced migration from Vieques initially. But gradually those who came to work the cane fields, became stalwarts of the business community. Later they entered not only government offices but into elected politics and we began with Senator Aureo Diaz and others and now Senators Sanes and Rivera. Of course all Virgin Islanders are proud of our longest serving governor, Juan Francisco Luis who we sadly laid to rest recently. And of course every Columbus Day weekend we celebrate this long history and friendship.

In the 50’s, 60’s and ’70’s came the Eastern Caribbean migration, perhaps the most turbulent of all, requiring Federal government and local court intervention to put their assimilation on a smoother path. HESS oil was the major impetus and again through the refinery, home and hotel work and small business creation they too became a part not only of the economic life of the Virgin Islands, but also of our government on almost every level. And so today their history and culture is also woven into the fabric of our Islands.

I have taken the time to go back because I think the histories of those who came before foretell the future journey of the people of the Dominican Republic who have made the Virgin Islands their home. They are the most recent to make their entry and to begin to not only shape their own lives in their new home, but just as importantly to shape the today and tomorrow of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In the 1960s, a wave of Dominicans also came to St. Croix as laborers to help with the construction of the Hess Oil Refinery, followed by a steady increase in their numbers over the years. Then a second and much larger number migrated to the territory in 1989 after Hurricane Hugo devastated the islands and the migration has continued ever since.

But it is also important to point out that the relationships between the people of the Dominican Republic and the people of the USVI did not start with these migrations, but a century or more before. Today many VI families trace relatives in the Dominican Republic and I am sure new relationships are still being discovered.

As an example, late last year I got a Facebook message from a 54 year old gentleman in Santo Domingo inquiring if I knew a Valmy Thomas. Of course I did not only know him as a famous VI baseball player, but his daughter is my executive assistant in Washington. It turned out that this person was his son, going back to a time Valmy played baseball in the DR.

One of the early Dominicans who made a name in St. Croix were Dr. Maximo Ruiz who I met with a flourishing practice when I returned home in 1975. He was responsible for bringing lots of Virgin Islanders of all backgrounds into the world. Today there is Dr. Justo Roman and a few years back my committee honored a Dr. Rosa Petersen who worked as a physician assistant at the hospital in STT. Many others like President of the Dominican Republic Association in St. Thomas work in health related fields both in and out of government on both islands.

The Dominican people have shown themselves to be a strong and vital part of our community and can be best described as honest, creative, adaptive and hardworking. Entrepreneurship is perhaps their crowning achievement.

The variety of Dominican business ventures in the Virgin Islands community run the gamut, including beauty salons, restaurants, air conditioning services, construction and hardware companies, money transfer agencies and gift shops.

It is estimated that 70 percent of the beauty salons and somewhere around 50% or more of eating establishments in the Territory are owned by persons from the DR community.

Both propane companies operating in St. Croix and St. Thomas are owned by Dominicans as is the only concrete block maker on St. Croix.

An early successful businessman in St Croix is Hector Peguero of St. Croix Gas. Like others before him and since he has not only been active in the business but also the political life of the Islands.

One of the most successful today is Lorenzo Dionisio, owner of Dion Construction and President of Comité de Accion Dominicana Inc. in St. Croix.

Aside from his thriving business, Mr. Dionisio continues to make countless contributions to both the Dominican and Virgin Islands communities and has led the cause to spread awareness about the challenges facing the Dominican people as well as their culture and traditions.

In St Thomas a very well known name is Vincent Bengoa with air-conditioning businesses on St. Croix as well who is a community as well as a business leader. He is to st. Thomas what Dion is to the St. Croix community. And there are many more like Jose Gill, Lettie Perez, president of the Dominican Republic Assn in STT and others.

She is but one of many Dominicans who are employed in the local and federal government as teachers, lab technicians and in other fields. Many serve as engineers within our local Department of Public Works and the Water and Power Authority.

Alongside their fellow Virgin Islanders, a number of young Dominicans have answered the call to serve our country in the Armed Forces and continue to do so with distinction. The Junior ROTC program at Central High School in St. Croix has a large enrollment of Dominican students who have assumed every leadership position, including battalion commander.

They continue to distinguish themselves in our schools. In fact one of my beautician’s daughters played the role of governor of the VI at her high school during the mock elections last year.

But despite having a strong foothold as entrepreneurs in the Virgin Islands and contributors to the territory’s economy, and being active in political campaigns, the Dominican community is not yet well represented in the area of public or elected offices and civil government leadership positions.

However as they travel in the footsteps of those who came before it is only a matter of time I a short time!

For example, Humberto O’Neal, Vice President for the Comité de Accion Dominicana, Inc., has been elected and served as Virgin Islands Delegate to the Republican Party Convention.

The Dominican community in the Virgin Islands still faces challenges, with some of the lowest incomes, in family reunification, in access to government services due to language barriers, especially in education and health and the lack of a local consulate office. But they do and we also continue to believe that we can find common ground to resolve the challenges they face by working in unity with other concerned Dominicans and all of us in the community with the perseverance they have always shown as they continue to raise awareness of the issues and bridge the two cultures.

Los Dominicanos are part of us and the future of the Virgin Islands is one all of us will create together. We are grateful for their many contributions.

Today as sancocho takes is place along side of lechon, roti and kallaloo, and the bachata takes to the dance floors in the Virgin Islands, there is much that all of us can do and must do to help bridge the prosperity gap and ensure that more Of our brothers and sisters from the Dominican Republic achieve success in Virgin Islands and across the country.

The civic and community engagement taking place today will go far in setting a national agenda to advocate for the socio-economic and political development of Dominican Americans in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and across the nation that they are so proud to have the opportunity to be a part of.

I had the opportunity to sit in on some stimulating and informative discussions this morning and once again, I want to express my gratitude to the Dominican American National Roundtable and its National Dominican American Council for hosting this leadership summit and inviting me to address you today and share with you the successes and contributions of Dominicans in the Virgin Islands

About the DANR
The Dominican American National Roundtable is the only non-profit, non-partisan 501 (c) (3) Corporation based in Washington, DC advocating for the educational, socio-economic and political development of our diverse communities and all people of Dominican origin in the United States of America, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

ABOUT the National Dominican American Council (NDAC)
NDAC is a national civic-engagement-community relations entity functioning in collaboration with the Dominican American National Roundtable.