RE: Oscar Lopez Rivera
In response to the media activity surrounding the upcoming participation of Oscar López Rivera in the 60th Anniversary of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, it is imperative to express our perspective to the events that have taken place in past few days. We recognize that every news article references the Parade's past leadership and financial difficulties for context. That said, since 2014, the Parade's governance and operations were structured to prevent these matters from reoccurring and to support its core mission.
The Board of Directors of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, made a decision to stand by its mission of having the Parade serve as an educational and celebratory platform that embraces the diverse opinions in our community under the theme "Un Pueblo, Muchas Voces"/"One Nation, Many Voices".
In 2014, we launched our awareness and solidarity campaign to free Oscar López Rivera. This decision arose out of our strong conviction to be inclusive of all the voices in our community, and the broad support we have witnessed at prior Parades for the Oscar López Rivera cause. This confirmed the importance of having a voice in the Parade that many Puerto Ricans and people of all ideologies and cultures have rallied around. In the past three years, we have launched relevant and challenging conversations such as: marriage equality and LBGT rights; Borinqueneers; environmental justice for Caño Martín Peña, and this year the centennial anniversary of the Jones Act of 1917 that resulted in U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans.
The history of Oscar López Rivera is complicated, some call him a terrorist and others call him a freedom fighter, but Oscar López Rivera, as the New York Times recently wrote, was never charged with carrying out acts of violence. After 35 years in prison, 12 years of which were spent in solitary confinement, President Obama concluded, that at the age of 74, Oscar should be free.
It has been disappointing and unfortunate to see the progress of this Parade undermined by the circulation of false information, and the targeting of loyal sponsors by people who disagree with the Parade's decision to recognize the freedom of Oscar López Rivera. These actions allegedly influenced Goya's decision to stop its 60-year partnership with the Parade.
The Parade appreciates the sponsors who have supported this cultural entity and its mission. These relationships are rooted in mutual respect, as well as mutual goals and objectives. When we disagree, we resolve our differences through dialogue that leads to a common productive outcome. There are also times when despite our best efforts, our partners will have to make business decisions, which we respect,
Our initiatives and announcements for 2017 are evidence that we have not deviated from our mission to be an inclusive platform, even when taking on complex issues/subjects. The Oscar López Rivera experience provides opportunity to engage in a healthy and fierce conversation about a part of our Puerto Rican history. As we continue to learn and talk about issues important to our experience, Puerto Rico needs the unity and solidarity of its people in this time of crisis. Only in unity will we inspire positive change.
The Board of Directors of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade
Thursday, May 18, 2017