Philadelphia’s largest Latino-serving organization is breaking its silence after a controversy erupted when its CEO was photographed at President Donald Trump’s Harrisburg rally in April.
Carolina Cabrera DiGiorgio, head of Congreso de Latinos Unidos, came under fire in recent weeks from immigration groups who called for her resignation. Several letters and petitions directed at the organization’s executive leadership circulated on social media asking for her immediate removal.
Tuesday evening, two weeks after the footage of her clapping at the rally made its way into the news, Congreso’s board of directors issued a statement.
"While we do not support any administration's policies that could negatively impact the Latino community we serve, we do remain supportive of and confident in Carolina's leadership and vision for Congreso", said board chair Esperanza Martinez Neu.
"She has a genuine devotion to our most disadvantaged individuals, and the ability to remain unbiased and focused with regard to complicated matters affecting the community. Under Carolina’s leadership, we expect Congreso will have a strong voice advocating for issues important to the Latino community."
On Monday, a coalition of more than 15 groups sent a letter to the board asking DiGiorgio be immediately fired, claiming her support of Trump puts her ability to lead the Latino community in question.
"How can a community who has been directly affected by the oppression of Trump's administration trust a leader who is supporting the oppression our Latinx community is facing? The first step in rebuilding that trust is accountability. No more avoidance, it's time that our people are heard," that letter read.
Congreso has largely stood by the embattled CEO, who is married to the chairman of Pennsylvania’s Republican party. Valentino DiGiorgio also spoke at the rally.
On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Daily News waded into the controversy and wrote an opinion column defending Carolina DiGiorgio and calling for the removal of Erika Almiron, executive director of Juntos and vociferous DiGiorgio detractor.
The column compared cries for DiGiorgio's ouster to Cold War-era McCarthyism.
"Americans don’t — or shouldn’t — believe in guilt by association. In the 1950s, Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s actions gave us a new word for accusations without proof, innuendo, and guilt by association," columnist Stu Bykofsky wrote.