On Sunday, September 15, over 300 community residents and local leaders gathered at Orlando’s La Casa de Puerto Rico to pay homage to Elias “Rico” Piccard. Rico, a longtime community activist, journalist, and photographer, is currently undergoing treatment for cancer.
During this long overdue tribute, testimonies and musical performances attested to Rico’s commitment to social justice and the Puerto Rican community. Speakers described his near endless list of accomplishments and the many struggles he has actively participated in and led, including the founding of the United Front 436 and involvement in the campaign to free Puerto Rican political prisoner, Oscar López Rivera. Some of the highlights of evening included the presentation of four official proclamations from three Florida State Representatives and one State Senator, and a passionate rendition of Rafael Hernandez’ classic “Preciosa.” Also, Rosario Martinez, a member of the National Boricua Human Rights Network chapter in Orlando, read a heartfelt letter from Oscar López Rivera. Several times, all present chanted Rico’s famous slogan, “¡Arriba los de Abajo!,” bringing a smile to Rico’s face. The program closed with inspiring words from Rico and the presentation of a special portrait of Rico, painted by a local artist. Donations were collected for the Rico Piccard Leadership Scholarship Fund.