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WILLIAMSBURG STILL BETWEEN DISCRIMINATION AND NEGLECT

From El Diario/La Prensa

December 11, 2001

By Ricardo Leon Pena-Villa

The Hispanic community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is opposing the hand over of lots that were formerly occupied by Schaefer Brewery and are being pegged for housing projects for the Jewish Unity Organization of Williamsburg.

Several community leaders have expressed their opposition to the measure, saying that it ignores the needs and the rights of the Latino community. They claim that it is illegal and inappropriate to give every available foot of land to the Hasidic community at the expense of the Hispanic Community. Adela Miranda, of the Roberto Clemente Cultural Committee, explains: "This is the forgotten county. I cannot say not to give to so and so, when they have the privilege of being the favorites of the government. We can go to the city, to Albany or to Washington, but we are always the first to arrive and the last ones to leave, if we leave. No matter how much we protest, the Latino here in New York, will not be heard. I am not speaking out of a desire for retaliation. I'm just telling the way I see it, and the way it is. You visit Williamsburg and you will notice that we are on the bottom rung. We are going to be pushed into the river. Per capita we are the majority, but we are ignored because we are Latinos. We do not have an elected Hispanic to give us a hand."

Carmen Calderon of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, also offered some insight to the case: "For years the city has caused divisions by giving preference to one group over the other. The only thing that was gained was the Roberto Clemente park and that was because the Hasidic community said they did not need a park. Ten years ago they were given lots to build a retirement home and what they built was the Satmar Synagogue, which is one of the largest in the world."

(Translated from Spanish by Armando Reyes)

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