Three more companies pulled out of the Puerto Rican Day Parade Tuesday because of its plan to honor a leader of the bloody FALN terrorist group. AT&T, Corona beer and Coca-Cola announced their withdrawals in separate statements, even as parade officials defended their decision to award convicted felon Oscar López Rivera with the march’s first National Freedom Award.
The Yankees, JetBlue airline and Goya Foods withdrew earlier.
Corona Extra USA said that while it’s been a “proud” sponsor of the annual parade “we also understand that emotions connected to this year’s parade carry very personal significance for many.”
“In light of these sensitivities, we have decided to shift our support to other National Puerto Rican Day Parade Committee cultural and social efforts throughout the year as part of our continuing commitment to the community.”
The FDNY Hispanic Society and the fire officers union said they won’t be marching, either.
They join a boycott of the June 11 event by Police Commissioner James O’Neill and police unions. “Oscar López Rivera’s actions led to the death and serious injury of innocent civilians and police officers. He is a convicted felon, plain and simple, and one who has not apologized or repented for his cowardly attacks,” said Jake Lemonda, president of the fire officers union. López Rivera served nearly 36 years after being convicted of a plot to overthrow the US government as leader of the Puerto Rican nationalist group FALN. The group was responsible for a series of attacks around the US, including the 1975 bombing of Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan, where four people died, and a blast that maimed an officer at Police Headquarters in 1982. Former President Barack Obama commuted López Rivera’s sentence in January. His defenders claim he never directly participated in plotting a terrorist attack. “He was not linked to any act of violence that hurt or killed anybody. He served 35 years, which is highly disproportionate, 12 years in solitary confinement. He was a political prisoner, that is what he was,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. But even some New York Puerto Rican leaders say the decision to honor López Rivera was misguided. “This mess, created by the board of directors of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, has created worse divisions than Donald Trump’s election to the presidency,” said Bronx state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. The board of directors issued a statement saying they respect the sponsors who pulled out but also “respect our parade’s mission and commitment to inclusiveness and the responsibility of representing the broadest possible blend of voices that make up the Puerto Rican community.” The remaining sponsors include WNBC-TV; the New York Daily News; City University and the United Federation of Teachers. New York Post
NiLP Guest Commentary
Willie Colon, Goya, Jet Blue and the few others: Please, Spare Us Your Hypocrisy!
By Jaime Estades
The NiLP Report (May 24, 2017)
If you feel that you should not support Oscar Lopez marching during the Puerto Rican Day Parade, don’t do it … just don’t celebrate the 4th of July, three weeks later … be consistent. If you are against Oscar, you must also be against George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, James Madison, George Mason and many others. These American patriots, once called “rebels” (synonymous of “terrorists” then), declared war and killed for the freedom of their country. The only difference between them and Oscar is that Oscar never killed anyone and they did; he was only willing to die for his country!
Ironically, Goya and Jet Blue will invest millions of dollars in advertisements during the 4th of July celebration … and don’t be surprised if you see Willie Colon playing the trombone in one of them!
Allow me one additional comparison regarding these patriots’ character. All of the American founding fathers mentioned above (except John Adams and Alexander Hamilton) were slave owners. They — after gaining their own political and economic freedom through violence — continued to enslave others and deprive those persons of the most basic survival resources while lynching and killing them anytime after they attempted to free themselves.
Without exception, the 19th-century men and women who fought for the independence of Puerto Rico also fought for the emancipation of slaves. Please, research Emeterio Betances and Ruiz Belviz, and compare their records on freedom and slavery to any American patriot like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, just to mention a few. You will find out that the Puerto Rican patriots were exceptionally better than you think!
The double standard expressed in recent weeks by both Puerto Ricans and non-Puerto Ricans regarding Oscar Lopez’ participation in the National Puerto Rican Day Parade is immense and astonishing. The lack of the most basic knowledge of not only the history of this country but also of the country of their ancestors is shocking. This historical amnesia has supported the rise of a neo-fascist like Trump, who violated every moral cannon and potentially several federal laws to become President of the United States. However, if any Puerto Rican leader rocks the boat of injustice, just a little, he or she may end up facing a grand jury!
I don’t care much about nationalism if it perpetuates the exploitation of working people and the have-nots. You fight for independence to make a better country for everybody, not a few. We have had our big “independentista” “hiccups” like José de Diego, who romanticized about the independence of Puerto Rico in his poems while working as a lawyer for American corporations decimating unions on the Island. I bet that if Jose de Diego were alive today as a board member of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, like some actual Board Members, he would mourn Goya and Coca Cola’s departure as a lost opportunity to continue to accommodate himself.
Corporations did not create the Parade — it was built by working class Puerto Ricans with the cooperation of small businesses in our communities. Corporations came later to take advantage of the thousands of potential consumers observing and participating in the Parade. Those companies care only about people buying their products, not about our culture, socioeconomic status or the pain of racial and national discrimination. They came to make money — that’s how business works. However, they crossed the line when, as Howard Jordan recently wrote in The NiLP Report, that they began dictating, “who should be our heroes and patriots.”
As the well acclaimed and prestigious American historian, David McCullough, stated about the American Patriots: “When they signed the Declaration of Independence they were literally signing their death sentence … and they knew it.” I respect the sacrifice that many did in the13 colonies that later became the United States. If you respect the courage of those American revolutionaries, you must equally respect the courage of Oscar Lopez and many others around the world who have signed similar declarations with their blood for their countries.
This coming June 11, 2017, I will celebrate Oscar Lopez
Jaime Estadesis a lawyer and adjunct lecturer at Rutgers University and the founding president of the Latino Leadership Institute. He can be reached at email@example.com.
NiLP Guest Commentator
Oscar Lopez Rivera:
The Freedom Fighter American
Government Colonial Violence Produced
By Howard Jordán
The NiLP Report (May 21, 2017)
I must admit I have been taken aback by some of the hostility and venom exhibited over the recognition of one of our national heroes, Oscar Lopez Rivera, by the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Committee. As a First Amendment absolutist, I have always understood reasonable minds may differ as to the actions of my dear brother Oscar about U.S. government colonialism and the political status of Puerto Rico.
Many hold diverse views. We have those who recognize Oscar as a freedom fighter who took on the evils of American colonialism as “a crime against humanity.” As a case in point, some have referred to him as the “Nelson Mandela of the Americas” and look to his imprisonment for 35 years as a violation of international law. He was never convicted of an act of violence and calls for his release ranged from the Pope, Archbishop Tutu, the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses, five Nobel laureates, five Latin American presidents, President Carter, Bernie Sanders, Cornel West Lin-Miranda, Ricky Martin, and every political party on the island.
Another view emerges from those who are not entirely sympathetic to Oscar Lopez who are troubled and differing markedly from his independentista views but supported a humanitarian call for his release and parade recognition. They emphasize the 74-year old has already served 35 years, did his time, was awarded a military bronze medal and, as an act of human compassion, should have been released and deserves to be honored for his years of service to the Puerto Rican community. (See his book Between Torture and Resistance).
The opposition to Oscar Lopez Rivera is focused either on those who are terribly misinformed, characterizing him as an “ultranationalist,” “terrorist,” “murderer,” “communist,” or all four. Many naively ask, “Why would you Puerto Ricans support a “terrorist?” They are composed of some confused and misinformed Puerto Ricans and Americans and many right wing demagogues.
Let me state my bias at the onset: I belong to the first group. My reasoned perspective as an educator, lawyer and activist is that Oscar Lopez Rivera is a freedom fighter struggling for the self-determination of the Puerto Rican people. As a pacifist, I, like Oscar, deplore violence (see Jorge Ramos and Gutierrez interview) and believe that bullets are not the solution, especially those shots that have historically been used by the American government against our people. We must continue to build a unity movement to win the Puerto Rican people’s corazones (hearts). Let me reject a common misconception— to favor Puerto Rican self-determination is not to be in any way against the North American people. We only denounce the actions of the American government done in their name. As freedom loving people, all progressives of conscience should join our cause.
During the last month, listening to the venomous hatred directed against Oscar Lopez and Puerto Ricans I have felt a burning need to respond. Let me share some thoughts:
First, it is up to the Puerto Rican people to determine their leadership whether these opponents like it or not. Part of decolonizing our people is to defend our international and national recognized right to decide. If you don’t like the selection of Oscar as an honoree that is your right but don’t tell us who our heroes are! We have shed much Puerto Rican blood for that right.
Enter Goya Foods, a Spaniard-owned food company profiting from Puerto Ricans for decades now pulls out economic support from the Puerto Rican Day Parade whose theme is “One People, Many Voices” because of the selection of Oscar, a dissenting voice that insulted their right wing purchasers. They ignore all those other “acceptable honorees” like Gilberto Santa Rosa, Iris Chacon, Yandel, the Puerto Rico National Baseball team, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Since they don’t support a diversity of voices, they want to tell us who to call our leaders. That is why I joined the call for a boycott of Goya, we should not support those who in their neo-colonial inclinations say, “We corporations decide or you won’t have a parade.” Never eat food prepared by your self-declared enemy. Every self-respecting Puerto Rican and progressive should boycott Goya.
Second, I point to what I call the selective outrage of these hypocrites. When we point to the political, economic and cultural violence committed against the Puerto Rican people by the U.S. government, reactionaries respond, we are “changing the subject.” So to these two-faced, duplicitous opponents the bombing of Vieques, the Ponce Massacre, the sterilization of masses of Puerto Rican women, the murder of independentistas, a colonialism-induced 74-billion-dollar debt which has led to mass hospital and school closings, the radiation torture of Pedro Albizu Campos (who they also called a “terrorist”), are not related at all? That is why, like it or not, Oscar Lopez is one legitmate Boricua response to this consistent violence committed against the Puerto Rican people.
I have chosen to use my radio program, the Jordan Journal, on Fridays from 3-5 p.m. on WBAI to call on all supporters of sovereignty for the Puerto Rican people to help me document all the acts of violence committed by the U.S. government against the Puerto Rican people (listen to this message; my contact information is at the end of this commentary).They want to know why we love, yes, love Oscar, because he stood up against all these anti-Puerto Rican government public policies while his critics today were conspicuously silent. Oscar is the fixed point of principle and integrity in a Boricua world filled with many souless politiqueros andaccomodados.
For those who don’t think it’s important and believe “what does that have to do with Oscar?” then that is your deceitful selective outrage. Let’s be frank, if the murder, torture, and dehumanization of Puerto Ricans do not outrage you, then¡vayasen pa’l carajo! Puerto Rican lives matter. Stop bringing up your phony concern promoting a tragically misinformed characterization of a 74-year-old Puerto Rican patriot. Let’s tell our story. Please send me your examples of American violence against Puerto Ricans. I will read the best (worst?) ones on the air next Friday.
Be careful and carefully watch out for the media “divide and conquer” tactics of these detractors. They have now targeted playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda,threatening to boycott Hamilton and have chosen to highlight the statement of the NYPD Hispanic Police Society, supporters of Rudy Giuliani, that they will not attend the parade. The subliminal message is, “We are not anti-Puerto Rican, we have some of your own in agreement.” The Hispanic Society, however, hasnothing to say on Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham, only Oscar Lopez Rivera.Mejor, now they will have more time to concentrate on limiting the brutalization of Puerto Rican and African Americans citizens by some police who are never held accountable.
The media headline of the NY1 News cable news station:“Top leader of a Puerto Rican militant group that said it was responsible for more than 100 bombings during the 1970s and early 1980s, including one in New York, was freed Wednesday…” Anti-Puerto Rican NY1 News had amnesia and forgot Oscar was never charged or convicted for any of these bombings in 35 years and was in an entirely different location at the time. Are these “alternative facts”?
My final point, familia, every Puerto Rican and progressive person in this city must join us in marching with Oscar Lopez Rivera at the June 11th Puerto Rican Day Parade. I have had many differences with the Parade Board of Directors — it’s prior corruption and lack of accountability, their poor treatment of legendary activist lawyer Ramon Jimenez — but on this ISSUE WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE.
I hope many of our elected officials who supported Oscar’s release — que se han estado escondiendo (who are in hiding) se apreten las faldas y pantalonesand will now join us. Also, I urge you to attend some of the activities honoring Oscar at Hostos Community College and throughout the City of New York.
That week let’s light up Gotham with the love and fire of the Puerto Rican heart by joining Oscar at the parade. Hug Oscar, talk to Oscar, march with Oscar, thank Oscar, show your love for this noble warrior and torchbearer of the Puerto Rican nation who spent 35 years in prison for our right to decide our leadership and break the chains of the American government’s colonial captivity.
En exclusiva: Oscar López Rivera habla con Jorge Ramos pocas horas antes de su libertad luego de 35 http://bit.ly/2r2cmO6
STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF THE NATIONAL PUERTO RICAN PARADE OF NYC BESTOWING NATIONAL HERO OSCAR LOPEZ RIVERA the title of “PROCER de la LIBERTAD” (May 20, 2017)
Howard Jordán is an educator, attorney, journalist, and political activist and serves as host of the popular radio program ‘The Jordan Journal’ is heard Fridays from 3-5 p.m. on WBAI 99.5 F.M. The Journal is a current event-driven program committed to a cross-fertilization of ideas between people of color and the progressive community in the United States. Jordan is also Chair of the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Hostos Community College and Unit Coordinator for the Public Policy and Law Unit, where he teaches Criminal Justice, Paralegal Studies, and Public Administration. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HJordanWBAI or go to his webpage howardjordan.net for additional information.
The NiLP Report on Latino Policy & Politics is an online information service provided by the National Institute for Latino Policy. For further information, visit www.latinopolicy. org. Send comments to email@example.com.
Carta de la Junta Directiva del Desfile Nacional Puertorriqueño
Jueves, 18 de mayo, 2017
En respuesta a la reciente actividad en los medios de comunicación, en torno a la próxima participación de Oscar López Rivera en el 60 Aniversario del Desfile Nacional Puertorriqueño, es imperativo expresar nuestra perspectiva con relación a los eventos que se han llevado a cabo en los últimos días. Reconocemos que cada reportaje noticioso, para dar contexto, hace referencia a las dificultades financieras y de liderazgo del Desfile ocurridas en años pasados. Cabe mencionar que desde el 2014, la administración y la operación del Desfile fueron re-estructuradas para evitar la recurrencia de este tipo de problemas con el fin de fortalecer la misión central de esta institución.
La Junta Directiva del Desfile Nacional Puertorriqueño, tomó la decisión de cumplir con su misión, de hacer que el Desfile sirva como una plataforma educacional y de celebración, abarcando las diversas opiniones de nuestro pueblo puertorriqueño, bajo el lema: “Un Pueblo, Muchas Voces”.
En 2014, iniciamos nuestra campaña de concientización y solidaridad por la excarcelación de Oscar López Rivera. Esta decisión surgió de nuestro compromiso y firme convicción de lo imprescindible que es el incluir todas las voces en nuestra comunidad. El amplio apoyo que hemos presenciado en previas ediciones del desfile en la Quinta Avenida a favor de la causa de Oscar López Rivera, nos ha confirmado la importancia de tener una voz en el desfile en representación de los muchos puertorriqueños y de personas de todas las culturas e ideologías que se unieron a su causa.
En los pasados tres años, hemos promovido la discusión de temas relevantes y desafiantes, por ejemplo: la igualdad matrimonial y los derechos LGBTT, el reconocimiento al regimiento de infantería Borinqueneers, la justicia ambiental para El Caño Martín Peña y este año el centenario del Jones Act de 1917, que otorga la ciudadanía estadounidense a todos los puertorriqueños.
La historia de Oscar López Rivera es complicada, algunos lo llaman terrorista y otros lo denominan como un luchador por la libertad; pero según fue descrito por el New York Times en una nota reciente, López nunca fue condenado por realizar actos de violencia. Después de 35 años en prisión, de los cuales pasó 12 años en detención solitaria, el presidente Obama le conmutó la sentencia a sus 74 años de edad.
Sin embargo, ha sido triste y desafortunado ver que el desarrollo de este Desfile sea afectado adversamente por la circulación de información falsa y por comentarios negativos a nuestros fieles patrocinadores, realizado por algunos individuos, que están en desacuerdo, con la decisión de hacer un reconocimiento a la libertad de Oscar López Rivera. Estas acciones, presuntamente, influyeron en la decisión de Goya Foods, de retirar su patrocinio de 60 años con el Desfile.
El desfile aprecia la participación de sus patrocinadores, quienes han apoyado a esta organización cultural y a su misión. Estas relaciones son cimentadas en respeto mutuo y en el compromiso a perseguir las metas y objetivos que hay en común. Cuando hay desacuerdo, resolvemos nuestras diferencias a través de un dialogo que conduzca a un resultado productivo para todos. También habrán momentos cuando a pesar de nuestros mejores esfuerzos, nuestros auspiciadores tendrán que tomar decisiones empresariales, lo cual respetamos, aún así, el Desfile continuará siendo una plataforma para fomentar la Paz y Solidaridad incluyendo todas las voces de nuestra comunidad.
Nuestras iniciativas y anuncios para el 2017 son evidencia de que no nos hemos desviado de nuestra misión, ni siquiera cuando nos enfrentamos a temas complejos. La experiencia de Oscar López Rivera nos brinda una oportunidad de participar en una sana y desafiante conversación, en referencia a una parte de nuestra historia puertorriqueña, a medida que continuamos aprendiendo y resaltando los temas más importantes de nuestras vivencias como pueblo.
Puerto Rico necesita la unidad y la solidaridad de su pueblo en estos tiempos de crisis. Sólo en la unidad podremos inspirar un cambio positivo.
NYPD Hispanic Group Exits the Puerto Rican Parade
Outraged Hispanic police groups are boycotting the Puerto Rican Day Parade next month because the event will celebrate a pardoned terrorist linked to one of the deadliest groups ever to target New York.
The NYPD Hispanic Society and the Rafael Ramos Foundation have pulled out of the June 11 Fifth Avenue march after it was announced that former FALN kingpin Oscar Lòpez Rivera will be honored as a “National Freedom Hero” at the event.
Rivera, 74, had his 70-year sentence commuted by outgoing President Barack Obama in January. He had spent nearly 36 years in prison on conspiracy charges for his ties to the Puerto Rican nationalist group, which was responsible for more than 100 bombings in the 1970s and ’80s — including a 1982 blast at NYPD headquarters that left an officer maimed and a 1975 attack that killed four at Fraunces Tavern in the Financial District.
Supporters of Rivera — who was released Wednesday from house arrest in Puerto Rico with New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito on hand — note he was never directly linked to any bombings and they considered him a political prisoner.
This is a letter from rev. Rubén Díaz about Goya’s decision:
You should know that after so many years as one of the principal sponsors, Goya Foods has decided to end its contribution and participation in the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
There are many rumors floating around explaining why Goya Foods has decided to end its sponsorship of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Those voices on the cutting edge of our community tell us why Goya is exiting the National Puerto Rican Day Parade. They foretell the very dangerous downfall that the Parade faces if Goya leaves, and some of them blame this on New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
You should already know that Goya not only sponsors the National Puerto Rican Day parade with its army of people including live music events, dancers, floats, baton twirlers, radio and tv commercials, but Goya Foods also contributes more than $200,000.00 to the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Committee.
As you know, a few years ago, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman took advantage of his powers and resources as the Attorney General and then, as if he were Don Quixote de la Mancha brandishing his sword against a windmill that was sustaining the Parade, removed its President, Madelyn Lugo and her Board of Directors.
According to some, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman decided to give control of the Parade to the MirRam Group, which is led by Luis Miranda and Roberto Ramirez, who decided to appoint Ms. Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez as the new President, and some of their friends as Board Members.
Many people believe that New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has neglected his duties to supervise and oversee the decisions, expenditures, actions and overall fiduciary responsibilities of the new board that he appointed. Without proper oversight, companies such as Goya Foods will retreat and end their association with the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
It is said that there are other big sponsors such as Jet Blue Airlines that are also considering terminating their participation and association with the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
As a Puerto Rican, I take this time and opportunity to make a public call upon the Executives of Goya Foods to reconsider their decision to continue their big and unique participation in the parade as they have done for so many years, through hurricanes, storms, bad weather and tough times for the Parade.
No matter what the situation has been or who has been directing the Parade, Goya Foods has always been a pillar that has supported this Parade – a cultural institution – that makes us Puerto Ricans proud to see our people marching up Fifth Avenue every year.
The National Puerto Rican Day Parade and what it represents is much bigger, more essential and more important than any group of people or individuals who might like to take advantage of it for their own political or social agenda.
It is for that reason that we must not allow anyone, be it Eric Schneiderman, the Miriam Group, Ms. Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, Mr. Carlos Velasquez, or anyone to try to use or abuse the Parade for their own personal, political, financial interest or social agenda.
So once again, I ask Goya Foods to reconsider their decision because if it’s Goya, it has to be good, and without Goya, there is no flavor.
I am Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.
Rev. Rubé Díaz is a New York State Senator representing the 32nd District of Bronx County, New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.