Join the World Affairs Council of Connecticut for a panel discussion that focuses on the current status and future possibilities for Puerto Rico. Guest speakers include Eddie A. Perez, Fernando Betancourt, Eduardo Bhatia Gautier, and Joxel Garcia. David Medina, editorial writer for The Hartford Courant moderates.
Fernando Betancourt has been the Executive Director of the State of Connecticut Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission since SepÂtember 1995. He was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Mr. Betancourt studied at the University of Puerto Rico School of Social Sciences and School of Law. Mr. Betancourt also holds a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the Hartford Graduate Center. He has done legal and legislative research in the Connecticut and Puerto Rican Legislatures as well as in the United States Congress.
As the Executive Director of the State of Connecticut Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission he develops and recommends public policy as it affects the Latino and Puerto Rican communities throughout Connecticut to the Executive and Legislative branches of State government. He testifies at legislative committees on various issues regarding the status of disenfranchised minorities. He is outspoken and well versed on the rights of Puerto Ricans and Latinos in the State. Some issues on which his expertise is particularly valued include: welfare and welfare reform, racism, housing rights, Puerto Rico's political history and status, the AIDS epidemic and services, civil rights, language rights, voting rights, discrimination by gender, sexual orientation and national origin, bilingual education, and campaign finance reform.
Fernando has worked as a consultant in the fields of health, culture, politics and diversity. He has been trained as trainer by the PARENT LEADERSHIP TRAINING INSTITUTE to deliver the segment on public policy and empowerment. He has also contributed as a regular Columnist and Political Analyst for the newspaper La Voz Hispana and other radio and TV stations covering the Latino community.
Joxel Garcia became deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in August 2003. Born in Puerto Rico, he was trained as a gynecological surgeon at the island's Ponce School of Medicine and earned an MBA from the University of Hartford in Connecticut. "I thought I was only going to be an academic and in private practice," he says, "but then I realized that academics and private practice by themselves cannot change the world." He served as Connecticut's commissioner of public health from 1999 to 2003. He is married, with two children.
Eduardo Bhatia Gautier
Eduardo Bhatia Gautier is the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA), the Washington DC office of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and officially represents the Governor in the United States on issues important to Puerto Rico. Mr. Bhatia was appointed to this position in January 2005 by Governor An兊al Acevedo-Vil・
As PRFAAâ€™s Executive Director, Mr. Bhatia represents the Governor on matters before state and federal agencies as well as before Congress and the Executive branch. He manages PRFAAâ€™s staff in the areas of Government Affairs, Federal Grants, Communications, Outreach and Public Affairs and Community Affairs, to carry out the agencyâ€™s mission of advancing the well-being of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and of Puerto Rican in the United States.
Prior to joining PRFAA, Mr. Bhatia was a candidate for Mayor of San Juan for the Popular Democratic Party. Between 2001 and 2003, he worked as a lawyer in private practice and as a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, School of Law in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. During this time, Mr. Bhatia was also involved in community work.
Mr. Bhatia graduated from Stanford Law School in June 1990 where he founded and edited the "Stanford Journal of Law and Policy", an academic publication with an emphasis on the development of new laws and public policy. He attended Princeton University and the London School of Economics, obtaining his Bachelors Degree in Government and Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1986. During his university years, he was a member of the Princeton Democratic Students Association and the Student Council, actively participating in the student movement against the Apartheid regime in South Africa. In May 1986, Mr. Bhatia was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study law, economics and politics in Santiago, Chile for one year.
Peter Kelly, WAC Chair
Mr. Kelly is a senior principal of Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C., a law firm with offices in Hartford, New Haven and Stamford, Connecticut. Mr. Kelly also serves as Chairman of Meridian Americas L.L.C., a public affairs firm with offices in Washington, D.C., and as non executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of the PBN Corporation, a communications and strategic planning firm with offices in Moscow, Kiev, Moldova, Chisinau, Riga, London and Washington, D.C.
Since 1978, Mr. Kelly has served in over a dozen National Democratic Party leadership posts, ranging from National Treasurer (1979-81) and National Finance Chairman (1981-85) to senior advisory positions (1988 and 2000 Gore Presidential campaigns and 1992 Clinton Presidential campaign), Co-Chairman of Clinton-Gore â€˜96 (Connecticut) and a Senior Advisor to Gore 2000. Mr. Kelly served on the Democratic National Committee from 1976-1992.
Eddie A. Perez
Eddie Alberto Perez lives the American Dream everyday. As Mayor of Hartford, he wants to make that dream a reality for all residents of the Capitol City. Mr. Perez has not only made history by being the Cityâ€™s first Latino Mayor, but itâ€™s first strong mayor in more than 50 years. By changing the City Charter in 2002, he is now the CEO of Hartford. By reducing crime, raising the expectations of public school education, increasing homeownership, and creating more neighborhood economic development, Mayor Perez wants to improve the quality of life for the citizens of the city that was called the â€œHouse of Hopeâ€ by its Dutch founders.
I was interested to hear Eduardo Bhatia GautierÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s thoughts on why the US granted Puerto Ricans citizenship in 1917: The 1910 Cuban revolution caused widespread concern among American sugar plantation owners in Puerto Rico, who worried that Puerto Rico might next declare its independence. This would mean the loss of their lucrative landholdings. They therefore lobbied the US government to give US citizenship to Puerto Ricans in the hope that this would quell the independence movement within the country. Quite eye-opening, as our teachers certainly never presented it to us this way in school!