Sunday, April 8, 2012

Willets Point is a Woman's Issue

The NY Times has a wonderful feature story on Pasiana Rodriguez the sole female auto mechanic working at Willets Point:

"IT is a men-only club, these auto-repair hawkers who battle for your business as you bump your way down the pothole-pocked streets of Willets Point in Corona, Queens. At least until you get to Dacar Auto Radiator, a wedge-shaped repair shop located where — this is so Queens! — Willets Point Boulevard, 127th Street and 37th Avenue converge. Suddenly there is Pasiana Rodriguez, 43, a woman in a form-fitting jumpsuit. She waves you over and begins bargaining for the repair job before you even stop."

Pasiana and her husband Dario Carro are partners in their auto repair business and both will be ousted from their livelihood if the city exercises its eminent domain strategy at the Iron Triangle-something that Pasiana thinks is a disgrace:

"Ms. Rodriguez is like a big sister to the only other women who can be seen regularly working in this neighborhood: Latinas selling food and ices from pushcarts, and Chinese immigrants selling bootlegged DVDs from shopping bags. She is also an outspoken critic of the city’s use of eminent domain to clear out the auto businesses here, to make way for a mammoth development project. “They’re taking away our business — I may be driving one of those things soon,” she said, pointing to a man selling meat on a stick from a mobile lunch counter that he pedaled like a bicycle."

Pasiana and Dario represent hundreds of immigrant entrepreneurs that the city wants to evict from this hotbed of entrepreneurial activity-a place where hundreds of immigrant workers make a living at a useful trade. The disgrace is compounded by the fact that Mayor Bloomberg claims to be a big supporter of immigrant rights. Try telling that to the Dominican born Pasiana and her Colombian husband Dario. In every single economic development project of the mayor's-Gateway Mall in the Bronx, Flushing Commons and now Willets Point-the city is targeting immigrant businesses for extinction on behalf of rich real estate interests.

This coming Thursday Willets Point United will be having a press conference on the federal legislation that would restrict the use of eminent domain. Our own Irene Presti who owns property at the Point will be there and we are hoping that Pasiana Rodriguez will be able to join with us-because property rights is a woman's issue!