A decision by the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences to exclude movies made in Puerto Rico from competing in the category of Best Foreign Language Film Oscar has triggered a protest by some of the industry’s leading Latino members.

An online petition on change.org has the support of actors such as Oscar winner Benicio del Toro, Edward James Olmos, Miriam Colón and a host of Latino organizations. The petition, signed by more than 1,500 people, was organized by Frances Lausell, producer of the new Puerto Rican film América

The controversy arose when the movie, based on the novel “America’s Dream” by Esmeralda Santiago, was not allowed to be considered as a possible nominee for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2012 Oscars.

The Oscars rejected it, saying that Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, is part of the U.S. and therefore ineligible.

“We lose the world’s largest stage to showcase films,” said Sonia Fritz, director of “América”