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Transcript: Mayor Adams Hosts Reception Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

September 26, 2023

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Commissioner Manuel Castro, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs: Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the Hispanic Heritage Celebration at Gracie Mansion! Let's hear it!

Tonight, we are here, from recently arrived immigrants, to those who were born and were raised here, from longtime New Yorkers to our newest New Yorkers— we are here to celebrate [Speaks in Spanish] let's hear it!

29 percent. I want everyone to remember that number: Latinos make up 29 percent of New York City's population. We're probably at over 29 percent by now. But Latinos must be more than the beautiful and vibrant cultural identity that we are. Latinos must be a colectiva, a colectiva that celebrates our uniqueness and our collective identities.

A colectiva that is a force for good that comes together in times of crisis; and, a colectiva that are not make sure that we are well represented but that we are uplifting and celebrating those who represent us and those who celebrate us and uplift us. So, with that, please give it up for all our elected officials present in the house!

Give it up for all the Latino commissioners and head of agencies in the house.

Give it up for Ana Almanzar, our deputy mayor of Strategic Initiatives.

Give it up for José Bayona, executive director of Ethnic and Community Media. 

Give it up for Edward Caban, the commissioner of the NYPD.

Give it up for Adolfo Carrión, Jr. commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development.

Give it up for Lorraine Cortés‑Vásquez, commissioner of the Department of Aging.

Give it up for Lisa Flores, Mayor's Office of Contract Services.

Give it up for Ingrid Lewis‑Martin, Chief Advisor to the Mayor.

Give it up for Vilda Mayuga, commissioner of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.

Give it up for Anthony Miranda, sheriff of New York City Sheriff's Office.

Give it up for Louis Molina, commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction.

Give it up Ydanis Rodriguez, commissioner, Department of Transportation.

And give it up for Annabel Palma, commissioner and chair of the Commission of Human Rights.

And I know that none of us would be here today without the support and trust of our great mayor, Mayor Eric Adams. Look, just a couple of days ago, city and state said that I was the most stressed-out commissioner in the state, but I couldn't be prouder to be serving under this mayor during one of the most critical humanitarian crises that New York City has ever faced.

And let me tell you, there has been no mayor anywhere in the country that has done more for immigrants and more for Latinos than Mayor Eric Adams. So, thank you, mayor, for making sure that our newest New Yorkers get the support they need.

So, with that, please give it up for a great mayor of the greatest city in the world, Mayor Eric Adams.

Hey, give it up for Ana Almanzar, deputy mayor of Strategic Initiatives.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. Thank you so much. Rain or shine, we continue to shine. And you know, just really, look at this power. Look at this power you have. You've got to really acknowledge the power of our amazing, elected officials, Assemblywoman Rajkumar, Assemblyman Alvarez, Assemblymember Bores, Assemblymember De Los Santos, Assemblywoman Tapia, Councilmember Velázquez and the first Hispanic to be the district attorney in the County of Queens...actually, in the whole city, DA Gonzalez, a real team.

Let me tell you, when I think of this community, there were two moments that really, really crystallized for me how important this moment is. The first moment...or the second moment, or one of the moments was when we appointed the first Latino to be the Police Commissioner in the City of New York.

And Eddie, as we made that announcement, I looked at the crowd, and there was this level of pride, but not only the crowd, I looked at the reporters and I saw some of the reporters that were covering the story, their eyes started to tear up, because the Hispanic reporters in the city, they know more than anyone. They crisscross this city and they watched the city continuously deny Hispanic representation.

They respond to how the city has betrayed the Hispanic community. They have to bite their tongues as they sit in newsrooms and listen to the various stories and watch an administration that the administrations come in and they don't see a reflection of who they are.

And when I looked at that day when we made that announcement with Eddie Caban, and I looked at those reporters as we were talking, and I saw some of them touch their eyes, and their eyes were getting teary. They felt, there's something, they said all those years of struggling, all those years of fighting, we had to wait for 110 mayors before we got the empowerment that we deserve. And you got it now.

And then the second moment that moved me. When I sat down with my team and we started to talk about the real strength of the Spanish speaking community and we did an analysis. And I said, you're telling me we have 900,000 Dominicans in this city and we never had a Dominican deputy mayor?

And we didn't just want any deputy mayor of Dominican descent, we wanted one that truly represented the Dominican community. And I found one that had nine brothers and sisters and a mother that reminds me of my mother.

I remember coming to City Hall and we announced that appointment, I watched her other and a level of pride, she never just...she never thought that she would come to this country, eek out a living for her children; and then one day, come to the most powerful city on the globe and watch her daughter become the first Dominican American to ever be the deputy mayor in the City of New York— Ana Almanzar.

But we didn't stop then. First Puerto Rican to ever be the Commissioner of the Department of Correction, with Commissioner Molina.

And then we are what dreams are made of. He spoke earlier, but really reflected on the moment. Coming to America from Mexico with his family, being a Dreamer; and now, he's the commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs where he is unlocking the key for so many others to be not only Dreamers but to realize their dream. Commissioner Castro is representative of what's great about this administration.

We must seize the moment. And I know your country so well. I know what it was like to go to Puerto Rico during the hurricane and show my support for the Puerto Rican community. I know what it's like as soon as I got elected to go to the Dominican Republic and stand tall with the Dominican community.

I know what it's like to go to Argentina, I know what it's like to go to Guatemala and see the struggles. I know what it's like to be at Peru and not only to gaze at Machu Picchu but to see the everyday hardworking people.

I know what it's like to be, as so many of my South and Central American countries and how you represent. I know what it's like to walk the streets of Caracas, Venezuela– so when I speak to the Venezuelan people, because I know how hard you work. I know what it's like to be a [inaudible] and see the people of [inaudible].

I know what it's like to be Ecuadorian, and I know that I'm on my way to Ecuador. You have a mayor that not only respects you here but respects you in your homeland. And let me share this with you, that many people miss and many people don't understand.

Let me tell you about this country. When you identify yourself in this country, you don't say American Honduras, you say Honduras‑American. You say African‑American. You say German‑American, Italian‑American. America calls on you to embrace your homeland before you embrace America. You must never shed your right of your homeland as you embrace your adopted land.

America does not tell you to disobey or abandon your homeland. You bring it together and create the culture that makes us great in the first place. So, whenever someone tells you to go back to where you from, you tell them you will when they go back to where they came from, because we all came from somewhere to come to America. That is who we are, and that is what we represent.

And so on this day that we celebrate the Hispanic experience, 2.4 million, Juan Rodriguez coming here in 1613 long before any other tourists to meet the indigenous people here. Your roots run deep. You are our first responders. You own businesses. You are educators. You are a part of our law enforcement community.

You have continued to provide what the city needs, and I want to personally tell you, thank you. Thank you for what you have done and will continue to do. And I want all of you who are here, if you are lucky to still have your parents, thank them. And even if you aren't lucky because they transitioned, say a special prayer for them. They made a way for you here in this country.

No matter how successful you are, no matter how well you're doing, don't ever forget there was someone that came here, broken English, struggling, willing to do what was needed for you to be where you are right now. Let's never forget those who paved the way for us. Give them the respect that they deserve. Thank you so much, mi casa es su casa!  I love you!

So, we're going to honor some people. You've been with me since the campaign...[Laughter.]

Jose Bayona, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Ethnic & Community Media: Ah, yes. [Inaudible] the campaign.

Mayor Adams: Jose, we're going to bring home some honorees? Jose, you're going to read them and I'm going to do the pictures?

Bayona: Yes.

Mayor Adams: Okay.

Bayona: So, I have the name here, and you do the photo.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Bayona: Mi's everybody tonight? Good? Any Latinos in the house? I don't hear anything!


It is an honor and a pleasure to be here tonight to present the honorees for tonight. These are people who have been working their life, all their life, serving others in the Latino communities and in other communities and all around our city.

So, the first one tonight is Dr. Rosa Gil, the founder and president of Comunilife, Inc..

The next one is somebody that I have to say this is my sister from another mother. We have Grace Bonilla, president of the United Way of New York City.

And the next one is Dr. Helen Arteaga Landaverde, she's the CEO of New York City Elmhurst Hospital.

Our next honoree is Javier Ramirez‑Baron, he's the executive director of the Cabrini Immigrant Services of New York City.

And our last honoree is Jesús Aguais, he's the president and founder of AID for [AIDS].

Thanks to all of them, and thank you, Mr. Mayor, for that tonight.

Mayor Adams: Listen, I want to point out before we close, one of our major sponsors for so many years, Emblem Health, my man George Halls, celebrate so many events, and our good friend from National Grid, Renee. How are you, Renee?  [Laughter] Got to get you on the golf course. Thank you. More food! More music! Enjoy yourselves.

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