Puerto Rican Parade Awards Banquet honors community, late activist

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FILE – In this July 29, 2015 file photo, the Puerto Rican flag flies in front of Puerto Rico’s Capitol as in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A senior Puerto Ricon official said Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, that the island’s government has lost more than $2.6 million after falling for an email phishing scam. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo, File)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A special event was held tonight in Hartford, honoring leadership in the Puerto Rican community, with WTNH’s own Amber Diaz hosting as the Mistress of Ceremonies.

The Connecticut Institute for Community Development Puerto Rican Parade honors the memory of Maria Sanchez. She was a community activist who fought for Bilingual education in Connecticut schools. Leticia Colon De Mejian, the niece of Maria Sanchez, noted at the event that Sanchez “wanted to become a leader so she could make broad changes in our education system.”

“In our policies, in our laws, to ensure that Latinos and Latinas were treated equally and had access to the things we needed to thrive, not just survive,” Mejian said.

Additionally, Samuel Vega, President of CICD Puerto Rican Day Parade, explained Sanchez’ impact.

“People that came after her that helped also the Puerto Rican community to succeed and educate the younger generation to become not only doctors, lawyers, but city officials,” Vega said.

Throughout the night, seven awards were given. Some of the honorees this year included Dr. Zulma Toro, the President of Central Connecticut State University, and former New Britain Deputy Police Chief Jeanette Portalatin.

Tonight marked the 20-year anniversary for the event.

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