The Amateur Radio community of Puerto Rico was honored by the island’s House of Representatives on May 8 in San Juan as part of the celebration of el Día del Radioaficionado (Radio Amateur Day), observed each year on the second Tuesday of May. The office of Representative Nestor Alonso-Vega, WP4BL, prepared a resolution. ARRL Puerto Rico Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF, was among those on hand for the occasion. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo A. Roselló Nevares had issued a proclamation earlier, noting that Puerto Rico’s 4,000 Amateur Radio operators “contribute to the art and science of radio,” and serve as “goodwill ambassadors of our island.”
Amateur Radio Day offers “the opportunity to exalt the valuable service of the radio amateurs of Puerto Rico and their contribution to the development and evolution of this important means of communication in our society,” the proclamation declared.
ARRL was recognized for providing Amateur Radio equipment following last fall’s hurricanes as part of the Ham Aid program, and for organizing the deployment of ham radio volunteers to help with Puerto Rico’s recovery.
At the event, Alonso related how — as a visually impaired youngster — local radio amateurs helped him get his license, enabling him to make new friends on the island and around the world that he now considers family members. Resto presented Alonso with one of the ARRL Ham Aid kits, similar to those sent to Puerto Rico with volunteers after Hurricane Maria last September. Resto later spoke about efforts to establish communication with the American Red Cross, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, and various agencies and hospitals on Puerto Rico, and he outlined preparations under way for the 2018 hurricane season.
The Governor’s 2018 proclamation was read and presented to the ARRL Puerto Rico Section team for its work during post-Maria relief and recovery efforts, as well as its active role in emergency nets and monthly meetings. The resolution of the House of Representatives in recognition of Radio Amateur Day was read, and personalized copies given to the amateurs present.
The resolution noted that, when Puerto Rico lost communication following Maria’s devastation, “it was the radio amateurs who first sent health-and-welfare messages to friends and families…and eventually served as volunteers [helping] agencies like the American Red Cross, FEMA, hospitals, and the Puerto Rico Energy Power Authority with emergency communications.” Resto accepted a resolution dedicated to the radio amateurs ARRL had recruited to deploy on behalf of the American Red Cross, with plans to deliver it to team members at Hamvention.
The President of the House, Carlos “Johnny” Méndez, offered gratitude for the help of radio amateurs in the wake of Hurricane Maria and hinted at the development of legislation favoring Amateur Radio in Puerto Rico. Congratulatory messages to the Amateur Radio community also were heard on several radio stations as well as distributed by social media. — Thanks to ARRL Puerto Rico Section PIO Angel Santana, WP3GW