It’s only a bit more than 72 hours until the annual Puerto Rican Day parade kicks off in the Big Apple, but the controversy surrounding the event is growing, not receding. As you know by now, many public figures and sponsors pulled out of the parade after it was announced that convicted FALN terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera would be receiving the National Freedom Hero award and honored with a prominent place marching in the parade. After the backlash grew to deafening levels, the organizers seemed to relent, saying there would be no award and Rivera would simply be marching as “a humble Puerto Rican grandfather” along with everyone else.
That move seemingly gave everyone cover to move on and prepare for the event. But last night, at a pre-parade celebration at Gracie Mansion, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito decided to throw yet another wrench into the works. She’s been one of the most public supporters of the bomb maker and she stepped up to insist that he was still getting the award, but was passing it on to the community. (NY Post)
Mark-Viverito insisted the founder of the murderous terror group FALN would still be honored at the Fifth Avenue parade, even over the objections of police groups and local leaders and in the face of a boycott by numerous sponsors.
“The award continues to be given to him, but he’s decided to bestow it on the people,” said Mark-Viverito, minutes before speaking at a Gracie Mansion party celebrating the parade…
“His op-ed was very clear,” she said. “People just have to read his words. His words speak for themselves.”
The Speaker was referring to this op-ed by Rivera which was published in the NY Daily News. In it, the terrorist does seem to leave open the suggestion that he’s still being feted in this fashion, but I wouldn’t say it’s terribly clear. You be the judge.
Now, let’s move on. Let’s celebrate. Let’s be puertorriqueños and puertorriqueñas. The honor should not be for me; it should be bestowed on our pioneers who came to the United States and opened doors. It should go for activists and elected officials who fight for justice and a fair society. It should go to the many companies that though not showing a float on June 11th have continued to support our future through scholarship funds.
I’m not sure I would agree with the Speaker in saying that “it’s very clear.” Granted, one might assume that the phrase the honor should not be for me indicates that he’s getting the award but humbly feels that it should properly go to others. But couldn’t it just as easily mean that he was acknowledging that he wouldn’t be getting it and he’s fine with that because it belongs to the people? Tough call. I suppose we’ll need yet another “clarification” from the parade organizers to be sure.
But what if that’s actually the case? Perhaps Rivera’s supporters on the organizing committee are so dedicated to the proposition that they’re honoring him in private without making a big deal of it at the actual parade. If that’s the case, then New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet another conundrum on his hands. You’ll recall his Olympic level series of gymnastic flip-flops on this question, finally announcing that he never intended to march in the first place if Rivera was so honored. If the parade officials come out and confirm the position offered by Melissa Mark-Viverito, will Hizzoner make good on his word and back out of marching?
I wouldn’t count on it. The guy is as tall as a pine tree but I’d wager he’s got a few more political back-flips left in him to explain for the umpteenth time why it’s still okay for him to take part.