When asked during a Thursday morning Democracy Now! appearance about the controversy surrounding the June 11 National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Oscar López Rivera said that corporations should not determine who a parade should honor.
“Every committee that is in charge of a parade has the right to do whatever it deems necessary to do. We have to respect that. It is their power to do so. Now, for me, corporations can do whatever they want to do with their money. That’s their prerogative,” López Rivera told Democracy Now! co-host Juan González. “But the prerogative of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City to choose whoever or whomever it wants to choose to participate in the parade, it should not be—should not be determined by corporations. We cannot accept that. Let’s let the Puerto Rican community, let the Puerto Rican committee, make its decision, not to be imposed by anyone, not to be accepted, because if we accept impositions, we will never move. We will never feel empowered to do the things that we need to do for our communities and for our people. It’s a question of empowerment. That’s fundamental in this issue. And I think people are overlooking that, because who—who can take the power away from this committee, from the particular committee that chose or decided to honor me?”
“I do not need the honor, definitely not. I will march in the parade as a very humble Puerto Rican,” López Rivera added. “That’s who I am. I love —I love being— participating in the parade. But what I will detest very, very much is corporations imposing their values or their ideals on a committee that has every power to decide for the Puerto Rican community what its parade should be.”
Later in the segment, co-host Amy Goodman asked López Rivera if he had declined the honor from the parade.
“For me, the issue —the issue became something that then would make the parade less —less functional,” López Rivera said. “It would divide people. There is no reason for that. And so, for me—for me, it was a question of who should be honored. And I think the Puerto Rican people should be honored. I believe that it should be a day of celebration for all Puerto Ricans, something that we can enjoy, something that we can really, really celebrate. And that’s, for me, what matters the most. And I’ll be marching in the parade.”
Several sponsors, politicians and law enforcement organizations had pulled out of the this year’s parade, which planned to honor López Rivera as a National Freedom Hero. Critics believed that the 74-year-old Rivera’s association with the pro-independence FALN during the 1970s (responsible for setting off more than 70 bombs in American cities) meant that the parade was honoring a terrorist. Earlier this year, López Rivera’s sentence for seditious conspiracy was commuted by President Obama. Latino USA recently dedicated an hour to reporting about López Rivera and his federal case.
As for Puerto Rico’s current political situation, López Rivera said that “Puerto Rico should be seen as a place where decolonization can take place.”
“I see Puerto Rico at a moment when the United States government has finally admitted the Puerto Rico is a colony,” he continued. “So, for us, it’s not the problem that we had before. For us, decolonization is possible. One of the things that I have talked about is that the common denominator among Puerto Ricans who love Puerto Rico is the love for Puerto Rico, and that decolonization could bring all Puerto Ricans, from the diaspora and from Puerto Rico, together to decolonize Puerto Rico, just based on the fact that we love Puerto Rico, that Puerto Rico is our promised land, that we need Puerto Rico to be decolonized. Colonialism is a crime. We should erase that. We should erase that and allow Puerto Ricans to exercise their self-determination and to make Puerto Rico the nation that it has the potential of being.”
López Rivera was the Thursday featured guest on Democracy Now!