A New Petition Is Calling for the June 11 Puerto Rican Day Parade to Radically Change Its Mission

Via nprdpinc.org

With all the news coming out of Puerto Rico this week about the island’s debt crisis and how thousands of Puerto Ricans have spoken out against austerity measures, a new petition created online on May 3 by an anonymous user is calling for the June 11 Puerto Rican Day Parade, what the petition says, “into a march for justice.”

Here is what the petition says:

We’ve often heard the phrase, drastic times call for drastic measures. It’s a message that everyone on this page and beyond should deliver to the Board of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade. While it’s a good thing that they announced a special tribute to our national hero, Oscar Lopez Rivera, a day after tens of thousands of Boricuas shut down the Motherland to protest la Junta and its draconian austerity measures, we humbly submit that this years parade should be turned into a march for justice and freedom for Puerto Rico.

How pathetic it would be to have a parade led by politicos like Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Rep. Jose Serrano who VOTED FOR PROMESA? How insulting would it be to have floats and sponsors like Banco Popular who have bankrupted the island and forced thousands of families from their homes? How out-of-touch would it be to have over a million Boricuas on Fifth Ave shouting “QUE VIVA PUERTO RICO!” when in fact the Motherland is getting its very life and its people literally sucked out of it by hedge fund vultures, corrupt politicos and greedy corporations?

This march should be led by Oscar AND the students of the UPR who have been leading the movement for dignity and respect and liberation. I have a strong feeling that the ancestor Gilberto Gerena Valentin, who is also being honored this year and was a leading voice for social justice, would agree. A call has already been made to stage another massive national strike in Puerto Rico on the day that a wasteful plebiscite takes place. So far, that day falls on June 11th, the day of the Puerto Rican Parade. Are we gonna march or are we going to parade?

We, the undersigned, call on the Board of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade to convert this year’s parade into a march for justice in solidarity with the Puerto Rican people. It should be led by freedom fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera and the students of the University of Puerto Rico.

As of this posting, the petition has been liked more than 1,400 times on Facebook and has generated more than 300 signatures. This morning, Latino Rebels contacted Puerto Rican Day Parade for comment about the petition,

UPDATE

The board of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade issued the following statement to Latino Rebels Thursday night about the petition:

Most of the requests in the online petition are already part of the Parade’s work plan for 2017. This past Monday, in a press conference, the Parade’s Board announced that Oscar López Rivera will in fact march at the forefront of the 2017 Parade as Prócer de la Libertad (National Freedom Hero), in his first visit to New York City following his sentence commutation by President Obama. We also announced the continuation of the campaign to raise awareness of the grave humanitarian and economic crisis in Puerto Rico —first launched last year— and a new campaign focused on the centennial and impact of the Jones Act, a provision of which established U.S. Citizenship for all Puerto Ricans in 1917, changing the course of Puerto Rican history forever and causing a conversation and debate that continues to this day. The Parade’s Board will continue to work with contingents to ensure that all issues and causes that impact the Puerto Rican experience in the USA and Puerto Rico are integrated, so that the community can continue take action in solidarity and the Parade continues to represent, as its theme states, un pueblo, muchas voces / one nation, many voices.

The history of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade is one of cultural resilience, pride, unity, awareness and education, rooted in the spirit activism, freedom and justice. We are proud that such legacy remains alive and strong nowadays, 60 years after the Parade’s founders first marched in New York City to celebrate their cultural heritage and raise awareness of the presence and positive contribution of the Puerto Rican community, and also spotlight the issues that affected Puerto Ricans in New York and Puerto Rico at the time. This continues to be part of the Parade’s DNA, something the Board honors with great responsibility. The current Parade Board has a proven history of embracing causes and has taken a proactive stand to bring vital issues that speak to the Puerto Rican experience across la Patria Extendida to the global stage that is Fifth Avenue. Be it civil and human rights for political prisoners—including Oscar López Rivera; environmental justice for Caño Martín Peña; LGBTQ rights and marriage equality; fairness, justice and representation in U.S./Puerto Rico government and economics, labor rights, the island’s economic crisis, the Medicaid and healthcare crisis on the island, the Borinqueneers; and more, our Parade has a pioneering history and legacy of championing the people’s voice and providing a platform that prompts healthy discussions and leads to positive change. This activism happens every June and year-round, as we joined other community members in Orlando, Washington and at other locations throughout the past years. And we will continue to do so, while still celebrating the rich cultural pride, heritage, identity and tradition, that bind us together.”

By Thursday night, the petition was liked on Facebook more than 2,700 times and has gotten close to 700 signatures.

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