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Date: Fri, 19 Jun 98 13:38:48 CDT
From: "Workers World" "ww@wwpublish.com>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Puerto Rican Day Parade
Article: 37200
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: "bulk.23569.19980623181638@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

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 occasional downpour.

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 U.S. colonialism.

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 vehicle.

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 imperialist era.

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, "Security."

Of course.

Giuliani has a lot to be secured against. He has, after all, declared war on every poor and working person in the city.

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 circle."

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 July 25.

Que viva Puerto Rico libre!

(Copyright Workers World Service: Permission to reprint granted if source is cited. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: ww@workers.org. For subscription info send message to: info@workers.org. Web: http://workers.org)

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