New York Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to say if he supports the decision of Puerto Rican Day parade organizers to honor a terrorist leader, a Wall Street Journal reporter tweeted Wednesday.
De Blasio confirmed he would march in the parade over a week ago telling reporters, “I believe this parade is a very, very important part of the life of our city.”
Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, a potential challenger in the 2018 mayoral race, called on de Blasio to drop out of the June 11 parade that organizers designated to honor Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN) leader Oscar Lopez Rivera.
The FALN was responsible for over 100 bombings across the country in the 1970s and 80s , including a fatal 1975 explosion at the historic Fraunces Tavern in New York City.
Rivera, who was not convicted of the bombings directly but of sedition and conspiracy was sentenced to 55 years in prison, but President Obama commuted that sentence after 35 years.
The parade lost major sponsors because of its decision to honor Rivera including Goya Foods, the New York Yankees, AT&T, Coca Cola, Jet Blue, Telemundo, Univision, NBC4 New York, WNJU, WADO, WXTV, The New York Daily News, FDNY, and the NYPD.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also decided not to march in the parade. However, Cuomo remained silent on why he would not participate and would only say, “This has been an injection of politics into the parade that I think, frankly, was unfortunate.”
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, a supporter of Rivera, lashed out at “ultra right wing forces” in Puerto Rico who aimed to sabotage the parade.
“A lot of the campaign putting pressure on the sponsors to withdraw, etc., is being manipulated and organized and orchestrated from an ultra-right wing element on the island,” she told reporters at City Hall last week.
Attention to the parade sponsors began, El Nuevo Dia reported, after a social media campaign launched by Puerto Rico’s “Jovenes del Partido Progresista” (Youths of the New Progressive Party) called to boycott sponsors of the parade.
Puerto Rico’s New Progressive Party (PNP), which supports statehood for the island, holds majorities in both chambers of its legislature and currently holds the governor’s office.