The head of the New York City Council on Wednesday blamed the growing backlash over next month’s Puerto Rican Day Parade and event honoree Oscar López Rivera on what she described as an “ultraright-wing element” in Puerto Rico seeking to undermine the parade.
In the past week, a succession of corporate sponsors and law enforcement leaders have pulled out of participating in the June 11 parade over concerns about López Rivera’s designation as a “National Freedom Hero.” The 74-year-old, was imprisoned for nearly 35 years, in connection to a series of fatal bombings carried out by the FALN separatist group. He served as a leader of the group that sought the island’s independence by carrying out bombings against civilians in New York City, but denied being involved in any of the violent attacks.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, asked by reporters to weigh-in on the latest round of sponsors to pull out of the parade including AT&T and JetBlue, said she thought “a lot of the campaign putting pressure on sponsors to withdraw is being . . . organized and orchestrated by an ultraright-wing element on the island.”
Mark-Viverito cited a letter she viewed from a prominent business leader on the island who threatened to withdraw his company’s contracts from a parade sponsor.
López Rivera “is not the only focus of this parade,” Mark-Viverito said. “The history of this parade for over 60 years is to honor the contributions, the historic contributions, in many fields of the Puerto Rican community . . . there’s a lot to celebrate so for individuals to just focus on this one individual is unfortunately troubling.”
Also Wednesday, the city council approved several new measures, including a law requiring food truck and food cart vendors to display a letter grade similar to the city’s current rating system for restaurants.
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Queens), the sponsor of the measure, said the need for mobile food vendors to disclose their city health inspection ratings was “absolutely essential,” because “customers who buy food from a street vendor deserve to have the same ability to make an informed decision as patrons of restaurants.”
The council also approved a package of measures aimed at improving working conditions for fast-food workers, including requiring companies to post work schedules 14 days in advance, and banning the practice of “clopenings” where workers are scheduled for a late night closing shift, and an early-morning opening shift.