Everett’s Lucy Pineda left her home country of El Salvador when she was only 13 years old due to a heartbreaking Civil War there.
Now, many years later, she is looking to mend the hearts of the many dispersed Salvadorans by working with the El Salvadoran government to help connect Salvadorans like herself back to their home government.
Pineda, who has directed Latinos United in Massachusetts (LUMA) on Ferry Street since 2002, is now in the running for a new Cabinet position known as the Secretary of Salvadorans Abroad – part of a new 13-person Council that Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele created recently.
On Tuesday morning, at the new La Hacienda in Everett Square, Pineda and her supporters launched her campaign.
“I have more than 30 years of experience and commitment to serve the Salvadoran community, within the national territory and beyond it,” she said. “This same experience has served me as a base and for my passion of working for my community. After much thought and consulting with my family I have accepted the challenge of aspiring to represent my compatriots as Secretary of Salvadorans Abroad under my party Nuevas Ideas (Salvadoran political party), of which I am an active founding member from the moment of its creation. We are strengthening ties and relations between El Salvador, the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and the entire world. Regardless of the results, this is a great achievement for our Salvadoran nationals residing abroad who have been fighting for this privilege for decades and now our president, Nayib Bukele, is giving us this opportunity. It is truly remarkable.”
President Bukele made history with his enactment of the new Council. For the first time in the history of El Salvador, the Salvadoran diaspora will have international representation. Under the new administration, the National Council will be composed of 13 members who will be elected for a period of five years. Among these members, there will be two members dedicated to the Salvadoran diaspora: One Secretary of Salvadorans Abroad (elected by Salvadorans abroad); and one Secretary of International Affairs (elected by Salvadorans abroad).
Salvadorans living outside of the country, and who are properly registered, will vote for the position on March 1. Those living within the country will not have a vote on the new Cabinet position.
On Monday, many from the Spanish-speaking community and from the City of Everett showed up to support Pineda’s bid for the position.
“Lucy Pineda has been a strong advocate for the immigrant community in the City of Everett,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria. “From running a multicultural event every year to helping families to find housing, Lucy has been a leader in our community. El Salvadorians around the world should be proud to have her representing them and I am proud to call her my friend.”
Councilor Rosa DiFlorio said she and Pineda butted heads when they first met, but now they are very close friends. She said she supports her candidacy for the post.
“I would do anything for Luca,” said DiFlorio. “I immigrated to this country when I was very young too, so I know a lot of the struggles she helps people overcome. I only wish I had a Lucy Pineda to represent me when I immigrated to this country. I will always be a friend and support Lucy Pineda.”
Councilor Gerly Adrien said she got to know Pineda five years ago when she was running for state representative. The one thing Pineda wanted to know was what Adrien was going to do for the Everett community.
“I know you’re going to do a great job in this position,” she said. “I know you always put the people first, and you’re a community woman. You’re a strong woman and a mother. You have my full support.”
School Committeewoman Millie Cardillo also pledged her support, noting that Pineda has never shied away from helping residents in Everett.
“Every time I think of Lucy, I think ‘I Love Lucy,’” said Cardillo. “Her heart is in helping people. She has a great sense of humor, but she is serious about helping others.”
At LUMA, Pineda fought for the right to hold a multicultural festival at Sacramone Park for many years, finally getting the go-ahead years ago. Since that time, she has held the festival each year and brought together numerous people to celebrate Latin American and other cultures represented in Everett. In addition, she has also been active in a number of other organizations to promote El Salvadoran culture and causes.