San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug 16, 2021 / 15:19 pm (CNA).
Tens of thousands of people rallied Saturday outside the Puerto Rican capitol and marched through the streets to oppose the imposition of the “gender perspective curriculum” announced by the territory’s governor.
The Aug. 14 march was organized after Governor Pedro Pierluisi issued an executive order implementing in public schools an updated version of the “Gender Perspective curriculum” created by the administration of former governor Alejandro García Padilla, which the people of Puerto Rico stopped through public marches in 2015.
Mario Rosario, the president of the Pro Life and Family Coalition, the organization that organized the march, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner, that there was “spectacular unity between Protestants, Catholics and non-religious people embracing the family and childhood.”
“We’re happy because we believe that the goal was achieved: that our voice be heard so that the word ‘gender’ is eliminated from any educational proposal for our children and from any political effort they would try to implement,” he added.
The pro-family leader said that over the course of two hours, 25,000 to 30,000 people had come to participate in the demonstration.
At 10:00 am. several religious and lay leaders came on stage and addressed the crowd prior to the start of the march, including Argentine political scientist Agustín Laje; the bishop of Arecibo, Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres of Arecibo; Ricardo López, a representative of the Pentecostal Fraternity of Puerto Rico; psychologist and pastor, Dr. Angie González; the spokeswoman for Women for Puerto Rico, Claribel Maldonado; and the spokeswoman for Puerto Rico Alert, Tamoa Vivas.
After the speeches, the protesters walked peacefully to La Fortaleza, the governor’s residence.
González, a member of the board of directors of the Pro Life and Family Coalition, told ACI Prensa that “today’s march was the expression of an outraged people at the dictatorial government of Governor Pedro Pierluisi.”
“In Puerto Rico in the past decade the governors have assumed a totalitarian style of governance. Today’s march represents the uprising of a people that’s not willing to allow their rights to be violated and, above all, the commitment of thousands of parents and grandparents that we are not going to hand over our children to gender ideology,” she said.
“The teaching of gender ideology violates our constitution, violates parental rights and affects the psychosexual development of children,” she added.
She said the same day of the march they turned in “the more than 129,000 signatures collected in the past five weeks opposing the teaching of gender ideology in the country’s public schools.”
However, she said she was disappointed that “Governor Pierluisi was not there to hear our complaints despite the fact that a communiqué had been sent to him last week stating we were interested in meeting with him. Instead he sent an aide to the Secretary of the Interior.”
“In any case, the members of the Pro Life and Family Coalition gave our proposals to the aide who received us and we asked him to communicate to the governor that we want to personally meet with him,” González said.
For González the march had a very important effect.
“First of all, it shows our leaders how numerous the people with values are and how much they oppose the imposition of gender ideology. Secondly, it lets the people see how the press has sold out to this ideology and is determined to impose a news blackout on our demands, because there wasn’t a single secular media reporting on the march. Thirdly, the march has increased public awareness that people are mobilizing to participate in this fight,” she noted.
González also said that “if our claims are not addressed, we will continue with the other strategies that we are developing.”
“It’s possible that we will hold other marches but, more than anything else, we will continue to inform citizens about their rights and we will resort to the courts to make our demand that the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico be enforced, which guarantees a non-sectarian public education and to defend the right of parents to raise their children according to their own values.”
Laje told ACI Prensa that “despite the heat, the burning sun, the storm forecast and COVID which discourages many people from participating in any heavily attended event, a great crowd gathered in front of the government buildings in San Juan,” and that “the different speakers spoke out forcefully, aware of the relevance of the politics of these issues.”
“In addition, that political awareness was shown by the fact that Catholics and Evangelicals both asked to participate in the march and share the same stage. Pastors and bishops spoke there, as well as lay people, both Catholics and Evangelicals. This is the type of unity that is needed to confront the attack of gender ideology, which endangers everyone’s families regardless of their beliefs, which coerces everyone’s individual freedoms regardless of the church each person attends,” explained Laje.
Laje also said that Puerto Rico “still has time to put a stop to gender ideology in its territory.”
“There are people who think that these demonstrations are useless … that’s a lie (…) The only thing we have is ourselves, and the possibility of demonstrating in the public square to show the political class that there’s a lot of votes on this side, and that in a democracy you have to pay close attention to what the majority thinks,” he concluded.