Last night on CNN Latino’s Panorama news shows with host Fernando Del Rincón, Madelyn Lugo, chairperson of the non-profit National Puerto Rican Day Parade (NPRDP) organization, defended NPPRD’s actions in response to an official Coors Light parade beer can that depicted images of the Puerto Rican flag and the parade’s official logo. On May 23, the grassroots group Boricuas for a Positive Image issued a press release calling the beer can “an insult.” After Latino Rebels published a May 25 article including BPFI’s release and a scathing email from the National Institute of Latino Policy (NILP), soon many local and national outlets covered the story. This past Thursday, several developments happened: Coors stopped production of the beer can; NPRDP issued a statement saying that they would revisit its policy for third-party use of sponsored parade products, BFPI and local New York City politicians of Puerto Rican descent called for Lugo’s resignation and the formation of a new NPRDP board; and the New York state attorney general said that he would be investigating the relationship between MillerCoors and NPRDP.
Lugo went on air last night to address several of these issues. This is what she told Del Rincón in Spanish. (The translation to English is ours.)
She started the interview by saying that NPRDP is an all-volunteer association. She then specifically addressed the controversy, without mentioning BPFI’s name. “Sadly, right before the parade begins each year in New York, this very same group waits a week before the parade to create controversy, in a type of situation where they can take advantage and use the parade’s platform to stand in front of cameras and criticize the parade.” BPFI was formed in 2012, and the group was not around in 2011, when the “EmBORÍCUAte” ads were pulled down by Miller Coors weeks before the parade, although members who later formed BPFI were involved sharing content on social media about that ad. Latino Rebels actually formed an online petition that led to the “EmBORÍCUAte” ads to gain more attention. That petition was requested by members of our online community who told us about the ads. As for other controversies that Lugo is referring to, the only two we know of are the ones involving MillerCoors in the last three years.
Lugo suggested that those who are criticizing her and the parade have political and economic interests, and are use the strategy of “quítate tú, que me pongo yo” (“yo go away so I can take over”) that there are interests and groups who want to use the parade to try and take over with their own agenda. Lugo did not mention any specific names or groups.
When Del Rincón specifically asked Lugo about the relationship NPRPD has with MillerCoors and the state attorney general’s investigation, Lugo said that NPRDP does indeed need to follow the state’s rules and that the attorney general has every right to ask. She insisted that the the organization follows all state laws and regulations, and that NPRPD did not receive the letter the letter from the attorney general until “2:58 PM today” after press outlets had received the letter. Lugo assured Del Rincón that NPRPD will provide the state attorney general “everything that is being required by him with all the necessary documentation, and we will prove to him that what we do follows the laws, and that what these groups wanted was controversy, and the inquiries that the state attorney general wants will be made clear for our Puerto Rican community.”
“The Puerto Rican community can be assured that there is no mismanagement of funds, there is no funneling of funds. And the funds that are designated for the Puerto Rican Day Parade are strictly used for the Puerto Rican Day Parade,” Lugo continued.
She then said the parade’s marketing agency is the “person that negotiates with these corporations the money that comes to the parade.” This marketing agency is GALOS Corp. Lugo said that NPRPD has a contract with the company and that this contract has been “approved by the New York inspector general, and that agency earns a percentage of the funds that they bring for the parade.”
Lugo said that Carlos Velásquez of GALOS is not a member of the board of dierctors. The NPRDP Board of Directors web page lists Velásquez as a business and marketing agent. His name is listed right after the Board of Directors section.
Lugo also said that the people who criticize the parade never went to her office before “going to the streets” by creating controversies and “dividing the community.” She claimed that many people in the community have called NPRDP and have said that they stand with her as well, and that they too believe that there are political interests behind the criticism of ther parade..
“When there is nothing to hide, you have to come out in front and respond,” Lugo said.