New York City’s annual Puerto Rican Day Parade is June 11, and a number of companies, media outlets, and politicians are refusing to participate. You’ll be surprised to learn the reason why, and it might give you hope that New York liberals haven’t gone completely to the dark side.
The controversy over the Puerto Rican Day Parade arose after organizers decided to honor Oscar Lopez Rivera, a convicted terrorist responsible for about 120 bombings in America in the 1970s. His group, the FALN (the Spanish acronym for the Armed Forces of National Liberation) was a group that fought for Puerto Rican independence. They were a self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist group who wanted to make Puerto Rico a communist state.
Their bombings targeted both New York and Chicago, and one bombing in Manhattan killed four people. Lopez Rivera was sentenced to 55 years in prison in the 1980s, and left wing activists have treated him like a political prisoner for years. They have pushed for a pardon or clemency for years, and Bill Clinton almost granted it in the 1990s. However, Lopez Rivera and his associates refused to condemn violence for political purposes, and Clinton never granted the clemency.
Former President Barack Obama commuted his sentence right before he left office, and Lopez Rivera was released from prison ten days ago.
Families of the bombing victims and the surviving victims have condemned the push to pardon and recognize Lopez Rivera. Former New York City cop Richard Pascarella, who was blinded and lost five fingers in an FALN bombing, remains a critic of honoring Lopez Rivera and his supporters, saying “They will again voice their ideology on the American public with a bomb and with a gun.”
Friday, Gov. Mario Cuomo announced he would not participate in the parade, as he has done for years. The move comes after police groups pulled out of the parade in protest, and a number of companies and organizations boycotted the event as well. The parade has lost nearly every major sponsor, and even the New York Yankees have cut ties.
The outrage from even the more liberal groups and segments of the New York community is surprising. Not surprising, however, is that Mayor Bill de Blasio stil plans to march with Lopez Rivera.
“The governor’s support and long-term affection for the Puerto Rican community remains unwavering. Unfortunately, he will not be marching in this year’s parade,” Cuomo’s spokeswoman, Dani Lever, said without elaborating.
Soon after Cuomo’s move, WNBC and Telemundo announced they were joining the long list of parade boycotters.
Hours earlier, Puerto Rico’s governor slammed parade organizers for trying to turn López Rivera into a hero, saying the decision to honor him was “beyond comprehension.”
“I would urge anyone — all of the sponsors and anyone to avoid supporting this endeavor,” Gov. Ricardo Rossello told The Post editorial board.
“I’m a very hands-on governor. I like to be in touch with the citizens. I can tell you that the vast majority in Puerto Rico opposes this, and they have good reasons. Nobody wants to celebrate [López Rivera’s] actions,” he said.
“I firmly reject this being associated with the people of Puerto Rico.”
Now 74, López Rivera was released this year after serving 35 years in prison for seditious conspiracy, transportation of explosives and robbery. His nationalist group, the FALN, was behind scores of bloody attacks in the US, including the 1975 bombing at Fraunces Tavern in the Financial District, which killed four and wounded dozens.
President Barack Obama commuted his sentence in January.
“I would describe him as a person that took certain actions that cost — the results of those actions from that group cost lives,” Rossello said.
He said he and many other Puerto Ricans had supported the campaign to free López Rivera as a humanitarian gesture.
Rossello said all Americans want to crack down on terrorism, not advance it.
“We have to question why something like this is being done to honor someone in a parade . . . To me, it’s beyond comprehension,” he said.
Cuomo and Rossello are just the latest to ditch the parade.
Nearly all of its major sponsors have fled, including AT&T, Coca-Cola, Corona, JetBlue, the Yankees and Univision.
And numerous other elected officials have said they’ll be no-shows, including state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Sen. Charles Schumer.
That makes Mayor de Blasio the most prominent official still planning to march.