Coca-Cola, Yankees to skip Puerto Rican parade

"This year, we will honor our commitment to provide financial support to advance the educational program and scholarships benefiting students in NY and Puerto Rico but have decided not to march in the parade". Coca-Cola is also redirecting its support to the parade's affiliated scholarship program.

Both JetBlue and the Yankees stated this week that they would continue to sponsor scholarships for Puerto Rican students.

A statement from the Yankees says in part: "The New York Yankees are not participating in this year's Puerto Rican Day parade".

Oscar Lopez Rivera spent more than 35 years in prison before his sentence was commuted.

Some of the blasts wounded law enforcement officers.

More sponsors are dropping out of a New York City parade that is honoring a Puerto Rican nationalist who served decades in prison for his involvement in a group that claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings.

Lopez Rivera continues to be a beloved figure among many of New York's Puerto Ricans.

"While we are saddened and disappointed by certain sponsors pulling out of our Parade, we respect their views and decision to do so", organizers said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Lopez Rivera belonged to the Armed Forces of National Liberation, or FALN, an ultranationalist Puerto Rican group that claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings in New York, Chicago, Washington and Puerto Rico during the 1970s and early 1980s. The 74-year-old has thousands of supporters around the country who see him as a freedom fighter jailed for seeking independence for Puerto Rico, and as a symbol for the USA territory.

Lopez Rivera, now 74, was convicted of transporting weapons and explosives with the intent to kill or injure, but never was charged with carrying out bombings personally.

"While we can not predict whether other sponsors and/or organizations might choose not to join us on Fifth Avenue this year, we expect they will do so with the same level of responsibility and professionalism as JetBlue and the Yankees", they added.

"While we celebrate Puerto Ricans and their rich heritage, we have chose to withdraw our sponsorship of this year's parade".

Long considered a hero of the movement to liberate Puerto Rico from Washington's control as a US colony, Lopez Rivera was freed last week after facing 36 years of incarceration for his heroic and militant fight for the island nation's independence. Supporters also plan to honor him at the June 11 parade down New York's Fifth Avenue with the title Procer de la Libertad - National Freedom Hero. His sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama. But his supporters say he was fighting for the independence of Puerto Rico from the US and was a political prisoner. His release was widely demanded by the masses of his homeland as well as by Nobel Peace Prize laureates such as Coretta Scott King and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the latter of whom said Lopez Rivera's only crime was a "conspiracy to free his people from the shackles of imperial justice".

"Traveling to Puerto Rico with a security detail on the taxpayers" time and dime is questionable since Rivera's release can't possibly be explained as "city business, '" he said, adding that Mark-Viverito's spokeswoman said she paid for her own travel to the island last week. With billboard-size banners, bullhorns, posters, drums and other instruments, about 60 people filled an event space with chants and music in support of the parade generally and in support of Lopez Rivera specifically. "Accordingly, we support the recognition he is receiving in New York City in June", Cartagena concluded.

  • Salvatore Jensen