Ruiz’ body was found in a recliner at his residence after failing to answer his cellphone for a day.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
March 8, 2016
Milwaukee, WI – Community advocate and immigration rights activist, Juan Carlos Ruiz, 53, suffered a “massive heart attack” last Thursday, according to first responders. Ruiz’ body was discovered at his residence in a recliner after failing to answer his cellphone from a family member for a day. His son, Roberto Ruiz posted on his Facebook account that Ruiz had died from natural causes, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Several people told Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) that Ruiz had been complaining of chest pains several days before his untimely death and was inquiring information about symptoms related to chest pains.
A GoFundMe account was setup by Roberto to fund funeral expenses and has raised nearly $12K from the $25K goal. A memorial for Ruiz will be held on Thursday at the Astor Hotel Ballroom at the 900 block of E. Juneau from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. no details about funeral arrangements have been released yet, but Ruiz’ mother request for him to be laid to rest, according to Roberto.
Ruiz was a well known social justice community and immigration rights activist for the last 20 years. Ruiz worked with national organizations for immigration reform and was the founder of the Latino Carnival Parade and Street Festival annual event in Milwaukee’s Southside.
Ruiz helped organized and was among the 60,000 immigrants and supporters who rallied at the Day Without Latinos and Immigrants on February 18 at the Capitol in Madison against several Republican anti-immigrant bills. He is originally from Huancayo, Peru and studied Psychology at the National University of Federico Villarreal. He also graduated from the Colegio Salesiano “Santa Rosa” in Huancayo, according to his Facebook account.
Ruiz spoke multiple languages, French, Spanish, English, Brazilian, Portuguese, Quechua and Italian.
Ruiz was also a radio host for Nfoque Latino at 1460 AM WJTI and a LULAC member. He also was instrumental along with other community members in the redistricting changes in the Hispanic community to create majority Latino voting districts in Milwaukee. Ruiz also led an awareness campaign for lead paint poisoning at homes where paint was used in vintage residential homes.
Voces de la Frontera, a workers and immigrant rights non-profit organization released the following statement on Ruiz passing, “On behalf of the board, staff, and members of Voces de la Frontera, it is with great sadness we write to inform people that a great leader in the immigrant rights movement has passed away. Juan Carlos Ruiz, 53, of Milwaukee was a man with a deep passion for social justice. As a Latino immigrant from Peru, he was dedicated to the civil rights struggle for immigrants in our state and nationally, and to challenging all forms of social inequality. Juan Carlos has a proud record of organizing to defend Milwaukee’s low income children from lead poisoning, he has left us a rich history of mobilizing the Latino vote, and most recently he marched in the ranks of a Day Without Latinos and Immigrants to defeat state anti-immigrant bills. It was our honor to know him. He had a passion for life and sadly, it was a life cut too short. It is a loss for both the community he served tirelessly and for his loving family. Yet, his life serves as an inspiration to all of us, to live a meaningful life that goes beyond our individual selves and is in service to the progress of humanity. Our heart-felt condolences go out to his family…”