New York, – The Latino Commission on AIDS mourns the death of Angie González Oquendo, who was brutally murdered and whose body was found on the morning of May 24 in Caguas, Puerto Rico. Our heartfelt condolences go out to her family and friends as well as to those who knew and loved Ashley Santiago who was also brutally murdered on April 19th in her home in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Police investigators are exploring the motives leading to the death of both women who were members of the transgender community and have not ruled out the potential that the murders were motivated by hatred, in what could represent a disturbing pattern in Puerto Rico. On November 13, 2009 we mourned the killing of Jorge Steven Lopez, a gay teenager, found decapitated, dismembered and burned along a remote roadside near Cayey. The suspect tried for his murder, Juan José Martinez Matos, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in prison earlier this month.
Our communities and families include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals who deserve our love and respect and who need our support to combat the homophobic and transphobic teachings engrained into our society. The Latino Commission on AIDS calls on all our partners to mobilize in response to the violence and hatred that has befallen Puerto Rico and the mainland. The Commission will carefully follow the investigations of Angie González Oquendo and Ashley Santiago to ensure that the Puerto Rican authorities investigate and prosecute the recent violence to the fullest extent of the law. We must ensure that Puerto Rico’s hate crime law, which was established in 2002 and includes both sexual orientation and gender identity, was not enacted in vain.
“I urge the Latino community to be united as one voice and with our personal actions reject any type of homophobia, transphobia and discrimination. We are one family; we must pursue the well-being of all our members” stated Guillermo Chacon, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS. “We must address homophobia and transphobia by putting a stop to the jokes, slurs, discrimination and hatred faced by our LGBT brothers and sisters, not just in Puerto Rico but across the entire country. Hatred and violence is never the answer.”
ABOUT THE LATINO COMMISSION ON AIDS
The Latino Commission on AIDS (Commission) is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1990 dedicated to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Latino/Hispanic communities. The Commission is the leading national Latino AIDS organization coordinating National Latino AIDS Awareness Day and other prevention and advocacy programs across the United States and its territories. For more information visit: www.latinoaids.org or www.nlaad.org.
UNIDOS PODEMOS / UNITED WE CAN