Date: Fri, 19 Jun 98 13:38:48 CDT
From: "Workers World" "email@example.com>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Puerto Rican Day Parade
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the June 25, 1998
issue of Workers World newspaper
Puerto Rican Day Parade: Pro-Independence Marchers Draw Cheers
By David Perez, in Workers World
25 June 1998
New York - You would think rain would dampen the turn-out at an
annual parade. Not when it comes to the Puerto Rican Day
Parade in New York.
Over a million people, mostly Puerto Ricans, turned out
June 14 despite a steady drizzle punctuated by the
The event is noteworthy not only because it's a
manifestation of pride among an historically oppressed
community. It is also one of the biggest one-day gatherings
of human beings to take place in the United States, period.
By the early-morning hours, thousands of people had
already taken up positions along the two-mile route along
Fifth Avenue. A more dedicated group, however,
arrived at the activity at 8 a.m. They were there for a
purpose: to inform and rally the community to demand freedom
for the 15 Puerto Rican political prisoners and prisoners of
war languishing in U.S. prisons.
All the prisoners, women and men, are serving extremely
long sentences. Their crime? Wanting their homeland free of
The organizers--the groups Pro-Libertad and Comit, Puerto
Rico '98--put together an impressive contingent as well as a
beautiful float atop a flatbed truck. This float wasn't
advertising corporate sponsors, however. Instead, pictures
and names of the incarcerated Puerto Rican patriots lined
The contingent, which included a delegation from Workers
World Party, also distributed thousands of leaflets
announcing an important July 25 march at the United Nations.
The national demonstration is timed to coincide with the
100th anniversary of the United States government's invasion
of Puerto Rico.
The year 1898 marked the beginning of the modern
Over 200 strong, the marchers received strong support from
the crowd. Signs calling the hit NBC show "Seinfeld" racist
were particularly well received.
Last year, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was roundly booed along
the entire parade route. This time around, the right-wing
mayor surrounded himself with a phalanx of cops and a loud
brass band to drown out the hostility.
In addition, the four blocks surrounding the reviewing
stand were closed off to spectators--the majority of the
crowd. When Workers World asked why, a beefy cop replied,
Giuliani has a lot to be secured against. He has, after
all, declared war on every poor and working person in the
In a span of just two months, Giuliani has attacked the
rights of cab drivers and street vendors to make a living,
of CUNY students to go college, of hospital workers to a
job, and of the seriously disabled to public assistance.
All this on top of the continuing epidemic of racist
police violence--which has victimized the Puerto Rican
community all too often.
So it probably should come as no surprise that the mayor
has now announced he's constructing a bunker to hole up in.
The June 13 New York Times reported that the Giuliani
administration is building a "$15.1 million emergency
control center for his administration--bulletproofed,
hardened to withstand bombs and hurricanes, and equipped
with food and beds for at least 30 members of his inner
The City Planning Commission has already approved the
project. Construction is set to begin soon.
Given such a mentality, it should also come as no surprise
that arrests were made at the parade. Near the reviewing
stand, a student group, Muevete, unfurled a banner and
tossed literature in the air denouncing U.S. moves toward
statehood for the island. Parade head Ramon Velez, a long-
time reactionary political hack, ordered the group removed.
But the spirit of the pro-independence contingent
continued until the end. Next stop: the United Nations on
Que viva Puerto Rico libre!
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