The Ibero-American Action League held its annual luncheon on Friday and presented its first State of the Latino community address.
Ibero’s president Angelica Perez-Delgado says that Ibero’s immediate focus is on improving quality of life for people living in the Northeast corridor of Rochester which has been the scene of an open-air drug market.
"The trauma of living in that neighborhood and having to go out and see needles everywhere and people ODing and the impact that that has on an already impoverished community," she said. "So, we feel very strongly that we have a community trapped."
Community groups like "No Mas" have worked over the past year to disrupt drug sales along North Clinton.
As for improvements, Perez-Delgado says that a 105-unit housing development project is underway on Sullivan Street, and that a plaza square will be underway near Evergreen and Sullivan Street as well.
“That’s been a promise to the Latino community for 40 years and Mayor Lovely is finally making that come true for us,” she said.
Perez-Delgado says the plaza will help cultivate a cultural revival in the area, which could in turn, help revive the neighborhood.
Ibero is also looking to expand language access and other services across the Upstate New York region. It’s something that Perez-Delgado says will take building Ibero’s capacity as well as establishing relationships with other organizations across the region, such as Centro Civico in Amsterdam, New York.
At the luncheon, business owner and activist Roberto Burgos was also recognized for his voluntary work in the Latino community.
Ibero President Angelica Perez-Delgado says that bilingual education is one of her major concerns for the local Latinx community, which has grown by the thousands since 2017.
“I know that the district is currently overwhelmed with the 600 students that they took from Huricane Maria that resettled here,” she says.
She says that the city school district’s $30 million dollar budget gap is creating anxiety for the organization.
The push for language education is a familiar battle for Roberto Burgos. Burgos is a community activist and business owner. He was granted the Alicia Torres Award for community activism on Friday at the ceremony.
He says he was surprised by the recognition.
“It was unexpected but appreciated," Burgos said. "I was aware of the award because I’ve nominated other people for it you know but I never expected that it was gonna… (holding back tears) come back.”
Burgos knew the late Alicia Torres, for whom the award was named. His activism began in high school.
“We were protesting the city school district and we said we have students who are new arrivals who are coming to Rochester who don’t speak any English and we needed to teach them in their native language and do transitional learning,” Burgos said.
Between 1969 and 1971, he participated in protests and a sit-in at the Rochester City School District.
“There was a saying back then, you know if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem. And so um we decided to do a sit in in the superintendent’s office,” he says
He went on to Monroe Community College where continued his advocacy for Latino community representation. He also volunteered at WXXI in the mid-1970s producing a community radio show featuring Latino music and daily news in Spanish.
Today, his community work is focused on tackling aspects of the opioid epidemic on a local level.