In response to a CNN Latino interview last Friday where Madelyn Lugo of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade claimed that the recent controversy surrounding an official parade Coors beer can was being manufactured by unnamed individuals who had political and economic interests in discrediting the parade, New York City councilor Melissa Mark-Viverito appeared on the same CNN Latino show this evening with host Fernando Del Rincón to say that the annual parade belongs to the people and that questions regarding transparency and accountability need to be addressed.
Here is the full video in Spanish from tonight’s segment:
When asked about Lugo’s comments that this was just another example of a group of people who generate controversies every year right before the parade, Mark-Viverito said in Spanish that “these controversies are are a result of decisions made by the parade’s board of directors, which usually occur before the parade, and that is why we are responding to them before the parade. The community has expressed that [the beer can product] was disrespectful. I, along with other councilors and state senators, wrote a letter to the board of directors of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. And when [Lugo] indicates that this happens every year, that is not correct. When they do things right, there are no problems. But if things are done poorly and decisions are made, well, then you have to answer to the community.”
Mark-Viverito later added, “This parade belongs to the people, it does not belong to the Puerto Rican Day Parade’s board of directors.”
The councilor then emphasized that the board of directors was not chosen by the community, and that the decisions regarding promotion and marketing are mostly being made by GALOS Corporation, a private company. Earlier today, Latino Rebels reported that GALOS’ current commission is 33% of all revenue brought in for fundraising and sponsorships.
“This is definitely a matter of public interest,” Mark-Viverito said, “because we are also talking about municipal funds that are being used to hold this parade. There are many sponsors, many supporters, a lot of money that is being given to this parade, and [the board] has to be held accountable to all this. And if the president of the parade cannot fulfill this because of pressure and she does not feel comfortable about it, instead of passing responsibility on to others, then she should take on that responsibility and step down as head of the board. This is an unfortunate incident but it is our responsibility to ask the necessary questions.”
Mark-Viverito continued: “There needs to be accountability, there needs to be transparency. Even Ms. Lugo said the same thing. She aid that this private marketing company makes the decisions. Well, then that marketing company has to answer questions from the community, too.”
Finally, Mark-Viverito said that she does not have any political interests surrounding this matter, saying that it is just part of her job. “I am a very vocal person, very visible, not only in my district, but in [New York], and I speak up when one has to speak up. So this isn’t about political interests.” Mark-Viverito added that she was “very proud of being Puerto Rican and this parade is a representation of me and my culture, and I think that all Puerto Ricans should worry about making sure their culture is presented in a positive manner.”