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A United Community Stops 'Ghetto Tours'

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Some still think that this is the same old South Bronx, a community that has been the dumping ground of every city and state agency and the breeding ground for some of the most corrupt elected officials and service workers. A community that has been neglected and taken advantage of for much too long. I predict that many will learn this is not the case.

As I have been saying and as my campaign for City Council will demonstrate, the tide in the South Bronx is shifting. The new South Bronx has a generation of young Latinos and non-Latinos that have decided to move into the district. We also have a generation of youth that have grown up here that did survive the negative statistics and like many of us are graduates of many fine secondary schools. That second generation has also decided to stay and live here as well. You mix that with what I call a positive and balanced gentrification of young professionals who have recently moved to the South Bronx and some concerned elected officials and together this is the new South Bronx.

It was that combination of this new South Bronx that cried out and stopped the ridiculous "Ghetto Tours" that a Manhattan-based tour operator was conducting in our neighborhood. We were appalled that while many of us are working hard to change the image of that old South Bronx as one of the worst dilapidated ghettos in the country, some were profiting selling that old image to tourist who did not know any better.

Thanks to the community ground swell of organizations and concerned elected officials like Borough President Ruben Díaz Jr. and Melissa Mark Viverito who immediately reacted and began calling to complain, added to the community groups like: Friends of Brook Park, The South Bronx Community Association, "Friends of Julio Pabón" campaign who called for a coordinated demonstration in front of their Manhattan offices, the company felt the pressure and immediately cancelled the tours.

This is a victory for the community and a message to all future opportunist: "This is not the same old South Bronx." Those of us who really live here are organizing and uniting on many more fronts to protect our community. Our community has matured to understand that while some might have differences on certain social or economic issues, we will not hold that as a reason not to unite on greater issues that we believe affect all of us. We still have major problems in our community. We are still the poorest and least organized and our social and health problems lead the city city and in some cases the nation. However, I am proud to be running at this particular time in my community for City Council for I am reminded and encouraged everyday when I walk the streets and talk to the community that we all want a positive progressive change. This recent action where we stopped these insulting "Ghetto Tours" proves that we are well on our way.

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