City Holds First Community Forum for Peruvians

The band Espíritu Andino performs during the first Peruvian community forum sponsored by the City of New York. (Photo by Javier Castaño via Queens Latino)

“Giving voice and visibility to the needs of the Peruvian community is very important,” said Sandro Navarro, from the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) at the first Peruvian forum held on Sunday at P.S. 149 in Jackson Heights, Queens. The event was full with more than 500 people in attendance.

Translation services were available in English, Spanish and Quechua. (…) “We wanted to make sure that the Peruvian community knows they can receive city services in their language,” said MOIA Commissioner Bitta Mostofi. “Thirty million dollars have been allocated to offer immigration-related legal services with the purpose of having a positive impact on the community.”


“Next year we will have primary elections, and I hope that many Peruvians will become citizens by then,” said Liz Baber, an ESL coordinator with the citizenship program at the Emerald Isle Immigration Center. New York City is home to more than 42,000 Peruvians.

Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas, born in Lima, Peru, mentioned that she came to the United States when she was 19 years old. She also explained the different services available to the city’s consumers, including paid sick leave and protections for independent contractors.

Cecile Noel, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic Violence and Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV), gave information on the services they offer to survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence and seniors, and spoke about the NYC Family Justice Centers, which protect families, with offices in the five boroughs.

“New York does not allow the use of force on the part of immigration authorities in schools,” said Department of Education (DOE) spokeswoman Michele Martínez-Gugerli, whose criticism of ICE drew applause from the crowd.

Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Gregg Bishop spoke about the importance of technology for small business entrepreneurs and about other educational and financial aid available through the city. He also climbed on stage to dance during the group Pachamama’s performance.

Marissa Jackson Sow, deputy commissioner for the NYC Commission on Human Rights, pointed out the significance of accountability on issues such as discrimination and harassment. Last year, Jackson suffered a racially biased attack on the subway in Manhattan.

The event also featured an exhibit of paintings made by children on what it means to be Peruvian in New York. Actor Rosa Marcus performed a piece in which she played María Parado de Bellido, a revolutionary heroine during Peru’s fight for independence, Club Libertad danced marineras, and pop-rock band Verttigo sang their hit “Mi pisco es del Perú” (“My pisco comes from Peru”).


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