- 04/06/2014 (National Institute for Latino)

With only 63 days left, a little more than 9 weeks, for the marching to start on June 8th  for the National Puerto Rican Day Parade down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, the organizing of this mammoth event is still experiencing serious challenges. This was the message being sent by NY1 News/Noticias Political Commentator Gerson Borrero in a guest appearance on WBAI-FM's The Jordan Journal, hosted by Hostos Community College Professor Howard Jordan.

Borrero, who has been single-handedly monitoring the gongs-on related to the organizing of the Parade, reported on new developments with the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in a lively one hour long conversation on the radio show. His updates included the following:

Gerson Borrero as a "Naysayer"? Borrero explained that he wanted to report about the "Good, the Bad and the Ugly" about the planning of the Parade. He explained that he wants the Parade to succeed but needed to speak the truth about what has been going on with it. He expressed concern that members of the Parade Board have been instructed not to speak to him, but he has nonetheless been in constant touch with Board members and others connected with the event. He feels that most of the people involved are well-intentioned but that some are "full of themselves."
Parade Honorees. Although many community activists have been advocating that the Parade this year honor Puerto Rican patriot and political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera, it appears that the Parade Board has relegated his role to only allowing a contingent to honor him as simply an "activist" to be led by Oscar's brother, José Lopez. The Parade will be dedicated to the poet Julia de Burgos and the 65th Infantry Regiment, nicknamed "The Borinqueneers," as well as the cities of Guanica and Chicago.

New Board Members. Three new members will be added to the Parade Board of Directors: Rossana Rosado, the "Publisher Emeritus"/former Publisher of El Diario-La Prensa; Vinnie Torres of Boricuas for a Positive Image; and Myra Santiago, Executive Producer/Senior Director of Production at MTV Tr3s. Borrero pointed out that these new members still need to be approved by the Board, but have already been vetted by NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Some have commented that the Parade seems now to be dominated by a small clique of NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito that includes Parade Board Chair Lorraine Cortes Vazquez and Rossana Rosado, who is co-chair of Mark-Viverito's Transition Committee.

Parade Mass. The Sunday before the Parade, June 1st, the Archdiocese of New York holds a Mass dedicated to the Parade, but arrangements have yet to be made this year for this event and the Parade apparently owes $2,000 to the Catholic Church. The planning of this Mass is still up in the air.

Carlos Velazquez and the Galos Corporation. Borrero reported that he spoke personally with Velazquez, who was found guilty by the Attorney General of misappropriating Parade funds. He found that he has closed his offices in New York, but has opened a new office in the Dominican Republic and was still doing business in Puerto Rico..

The Grand Marshal. It is rumored that the choice for Grand Marshal of the Parade was between Associate Supreme Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, with the word being that Mark-Viverito will most likely play this role.

Internal Board Conflicts. There are reportedly internal tensions in the Parade Board, with disagreements emerging, as Borrero explained after the interview, between such heavy hitters as Board Chair Lorraine ("Lola") Cortes Vazquez and Board Development Committee Chair Maria Elena Girone of the Puerto Rican Family Institute. Other conflicts have bubbled up over the Board policy pushed by Cortes Vazquez to hold their meetings only in English, and her actually unsuccessfully floating the idea of changing the focus of the Parade reaching out to "Hispanics" as opposed to just "Puerto Ricans" (which Board member Orlando Plaza vehemently opposed).

FOX News Coverage? Although the Parade has announced that the event will be televised by Fox Television, at this late date no contract has actually been signed to do so.

Puerto Rico Participation. An important component of the Parade is the contingent of officials and others that participate from Puerto Rico, which is traditionally launched with the convening of a press conference on the Island, something that has yet to be scheduled. Puerto Rico would have been the ideal place to make the first announcements about the event.

Parade Banquet. The Parade still hasn't signed a contract for the June 6th Parade Banquet with the Marriot Marquis Hotel.

Press Conference. The Parade will be holding a press conference on April 11th at the offices of the Puerto  Rican Federal Affairs Administration in Manhattan where they will be announcing who will be the Grand Marshal and other honorees, among other Parade news.

Call or Write the Parade. Borrero ended the interview by asking the community to call the Parade and let them know what they think about what's happening with the planning of the event. You can call them at 607-699-9372 or email at 

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