An Afro-Descendant Woman In Power

By: Jessier M. Rodríguez Vega

           On March 4, 2014, a keynote address titled “Del Otro Lao’ Del Derecho o el Derecho Del Otro La’o” (The Other Side of the Law or The Law of the Other Side) was delivered by Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association in the Amphitheater Ramón Figueroa Chapel of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. Rivera Lassén was a guest speaker at the “V Coloquio del Otro La’o: Perspectives about ‘Queer’ Sexualities.”

            Ana Irma Rivera Lassén defines her election as president of the Bar Association as historical. She is the third woman in 172 years presiding over the school, the first afro-descendant woman and the first person who openly identifies as a member of the LGBT community. Furthermore, she is an activist, feminist and advocate of human rights.

           One of the major interests of Rivera Lassén is to express that she is the reflection of some hidden phobias. That image fosters her commitment to resist exclusion and fight for equality and equity.

           Nonetheless, she identified Puerto Rico as a democratic society and one that, as such, aspires to openness and recognition of rights to all citizens.

           At a point in her life, she wondered why there was hatred toward the LGBT community and why they were attacked. “They are only human that want to be considered as persons with rights.”

          Rights are progressive, she said. When social and political minorities are included in the national and international struggles for rights it would be a great step towards equality, added the lawyer.

          At the end of the keynote address, there was a section for questions that was extended by half an hour approximately. It featured the participation of students and professors expressing doubts and flattering Rivera Lassén’s struggle for human rights.

 

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“Lawyers do not persuade by fear, they persuade with reason.”- Ana Irma Rivera Lassén

 

         Natalia Cardona, student of Business Administration at UPRM, attended the conference and catalogued the keynote speaker as an advocate for the LGBT community with whom she felt much identified. Cardona belongs to the community LGBT and recently his coworkers began to judge her about her sexual preference.

        Rivera Lassén ended her address saying that “discrimination is the expression of a complex cobweb of intersections that brings exclusions.”

 

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