Lourdes Miranda of Bethesda was incorrectly identified in a report Oct. 20. She is president of Miranda Associates Inc., a research and consulting firm with offices in Washington and San Juan.
The average income of Puerto Rican families in the United States is lower than that of blacks, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The average achievement of Puerto Rican schoolchildren is low. The proportion of female-headed households among Puerto Ricans is high -- about 40 percent.
After a morning of such statistics yesterday at an annual conference here of Puerto Rican leaders, Michael Nunez said he was depressed by the "negativism that reverberated around the room.
"There are millionaires being made in the Bronx, which some people just think of as one of the most blighted areas in the country," said Nunez, president of Bronx Venture Corp., a nonprofit community development group. "We can stay in the world of grants and the dole. But there is another world out there where we can make it."
Nunez spoke yesterday at a workshop on economic development and entrepreneurship, part of the conference of the National Puerto Rican Coalition, an assembly of 41 local and national Puerto Rican groups. The meeting, which has drawn about 250 people, is being held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill.
At lunch the conference-goers cheered when Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) sharply attacked President Reagan for cutting government funds for social welfare programs.
Earlier in the morning, Celeste Benitez, executive director of El Reportero, a San Juan newspaper, urged them to preserve the Spanish language and be proud to be MOSCAS -- people with "Mixed blood, and Spanish-Catholic heritage."
"I am convinced that in the long run, we MOSCAS will overtake the WASPS," she declared.
But Benitez spoke mostly in English, the language in which most people in the audience were "more fluent," according to Louis Nunez, president of the coalition.
Louis Nunez, a brother of Michael, directed the U.S. Civil Rights Commission from 1976 to 1981. He has led the coalition since then.
Yesterday he said he has led a major shift in its funding -- from 95 percent federal funds, awarded during the Carter administration, to 20 percent federal money and 80 percent privately raised funds now.
"That's healthy," he said in an interview. "To be totally dependent on the government is not so good."
Nunez said his group wants government programs to help Puerto Ricans but is "seeking solutions that are not based solely on social services. "They provide a social safety net," he said. "But they don't move us forward. Even when they were at their greatest, we stagnated."
At the session on entrepreneurship, Lourdes Miranda, a businesswoman from Tampa, said Puerto Ricans own a "minuscule percentage" of the country's businesses partly because of "internal barriers," such as lack of self-confidence and a "misunderstanding" that most business "is not wheeling and dealing but just a lot of hard work."
She urged an increase in "set-asides" in government contracts and agreements with private firms to reserve work for Puerto Rican and other minority-owned firms.
"We have a legacy of being workers for others," Miranda said. "Now we must go out on our own. That takes self-confidence and a positive attitude toward life. And that can be learned."