Preparations are underway for the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and a controversial Puerto Rican nationalist is still dominating the conversation.
For many, the Puerto Rican Day parade was never to be about any one person. For some, the importance of honoring Oscar Lopez Rivera seemed more important than the whole. Amongst his most high profiled supporters, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Veverito, who determined that Lopez Rivera be honored even when sponsor after sponsor, participant after participant bowed out.
“I am not the only Puerto Rican not enlightened in my community. There are many who understand the significance,” said the City Council speaker.
As sponsors pulled out, so did groups who were going to march. Political leaders followed them out the door. Senator Charles Schumer and Governor Cuomo, often fixtures at big parades, felt it was inappropriate to honor a man in New York City who served 35 years behind bars for his part in an organization that carried out more than 100 bombings including one in New York that killed 4 innocent people. By the time Lopez Rivera said he would decline the honor, but still march so as not to take away from the whole - it was too late. None of the sponsors, participants, and political leaders would return. Lopez Rivera, in an interview with Democracy Now, targeted the role sponsors played, seeming to omit the large number of groups who also walked out because of him.
“The prerogative of the parade to choose should not be determined by corporations, we can't accept that,” he said.
Standing by the parade the whole time- Mayor de Blasiom, who did his best to avoid questions as to why he never criticized the parade's decision to honor Lopez Rivera. Well after the controversy has clouded the event, reducing the numbers of floats by one half, losing participants and sponsors, everyone is told the focus should be on the people of Puerto Rico. The parade will take place the same weekend where 3.5 million Puerto Ricans will decide on the islands fate in the midst of economic crisis.