Singer Ricky Martin inaugurated Monday in his native Puerto Rico a comprehensive education center for more than 100 at-risk children and teens.
"Today, 120 children and teenagers get a new chance. We come here with the commitment to raise awareness about human trafficking and to eradicate it, which is the purpose of my foundation," Martin said at the opening of the Tau Center in Loiza, east of San Juan.
Six years after construction began, the center opened its doors in Las Cuevas, a mainly black community where 68 percent of the roughly 30,000 inhabitants live below the poverty line.
The unemployment rate in Loiza stands at 29.2 percent and the school dropout rate is 47.3 percent.
Besides the nine secondary and higher education classrooms, the Tau Center has the capacity to care for 120 children under 3, plus a library, an auditorium, and areas to promote the fine arts and recreational activities.
Attending the inauguration ceremony was Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla and Senate leader Eduardo Bhatia, among other guests.
"Human trafficking looks for and finds more children and young people that we can imagine, and we can't be their accomplices. We have to give these kids the tools they need. That is part of the comprehensive mission of the Tau Center, of the school and of our allies," the singer said.
In May, the Ricky Martin Foundation presented the second part of a report that it published four years ago in collaboration with sociologist Cesar Rey, the University of Puerto Rico and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore about human trafficking on the Caribbean island.