Nydia Velázquez: 1953—: U.S. Congressional Representative Biography
Earned Master's Degree, Served On New York City Council, Re-elected Despite Reduced Latino Percentage
The first Puerto Rican-born woman elected to the U.S. Congress, Nydia Velázquez has served New York State's 12th District since winning election in 1992. She has also, however, served as an able advocate for the interests of her Puerto Rican home-land. In this mixed deployment of her energies Velázquez was perhaps an ideal reflection of her constituency, for New York's Puerto Rican population has long divided its time fluidly between island and mainland metropolis. A veteran of many years in New York's political trenches, Velázquez has never lost touch with her roots in rural Puerto Rico.
Velázquez was born on March 23, 1953, in the village of Yabucoa in Puerto Rico's sugar-cane country. Trying to support his nine children, her father worked variously as a cane-cutter, butcher, cockfighting promoter, and construction materials salesman. Velázquez's own later interest in the problems faced by small businesses came from her own observations of her father's experiences. "He didn't have the capital, the equity or the sophistication of information to be successful," she told Crain's New York Business. Her father was also a local political leader who instilled in his daughter a lifelong belief in social justice.
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