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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

In Loíza, communities lead annual call for no more stray bullets

Loíza Mayor Julia Nazario Fuentes, center, said initiatives like the annual “No More Bullets in the Air Caravan” in the northeastern coastal town “always have an additional strength because they are born from the same needs that people live daily ...”

By The Star Staff

A day before bidding farewell to 2023, the community board of Parcelas Suárez in Loíza on Saturday held the now traditional “No More Bullets in the Air Caravan,” a joint initiative with the Municipality of Loíza, as an active way to promote citizen safety.

Mayor Julia Nazario Fuentes noted that initiatives that originate from the communities “always have an additional strength because they are born from the same needs that people live daily, and we in the municipality collaborate with great commitment.”

Community leader Alexis Correa, the organizer of the event, said the best way to handle situations involving bullets in the air is with constant education.

“This is a reality that we are dealing with with neighbors of all ages and conditions,” he said. “We all count on that mission. We hope for Puerto Rico’s prudence to help us in this. There is no need to celebrate the start of 2024 with gunfire in the air.”

All of Puerto Rico remembers that Dec. 31, 2003, when nine-year-old Jessica Pacheco Calvente went out to buy some candy at a nearby apartment where she lived in the César Cordero Dávila (Quintana) residential area in San Juan, and on the way back home she was hit by a stray bullet that caused her death two days later.

“The welcome of that New Year was tarnished and the people were dressed in mourning,” Nazario Fuentes said. “We also remember the case of Karla Michelle in Santurce, who was also killed by a stray bullet. Today we have her father, don Carlos Negrón, who is very active throughout Puerto Rico supporting these anti-violence initiatives. Like any educational process, we have to be constant.”

Joel Osorio Chiclana, who presides over the Loíza municipal assembly, said that press reports on Jan. 1, 2023 indicated that at least in the emergency room of the Puerto Rico Medical Center, no fatalities were reported due to stray bullets during the festivities bidding farewell to 2022. There were, however, cases of burns sustained from fireworks, he noted.

“Between 1999 and 2011, doctors at the Medical Center treated more than 60 people for stray bullet injuries and five of them unfortunately died,” Osorio Chiclana said. “Fortunately, those numbers have been going down, and we want to keep them at zero. We ask everyone to speak up; together we can achieve more.”

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