In the 1970s, I led a contingent of Catholic students from Spanish Harlem in the Puerto Rican Day Parade; I did so for several years. It was a fun event. What made it so great were the wonderful people who marched, as well as those who cheered along the parade route. That is why it is a disgrace this year to see the parade so thoroughly politicized, taken over by extremists.
The June 11 parade will honor a convicted felon, a thug who worked with terrorists, Oscar Lopez Rivera; he is being touted as National Freedom Hero. The most prominent persons supporting him are New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Council Speaker Melissa-Mark Viverito, both Marxist millionaires.
Lopez Rivera was a co-founder of the FALN, a terrorist organization that seeks independence for Puerto Rico, a goal summarily rejected by the Puerto Rican people for decades. He was once in command of the Chicago group, arming the terrorists with dynamite, detonators, and guns. He was also trained in making bombs. Convicted of transportation of firearms with the intent to kill, as well as the transportation of explosives, he was sentenced in 1981 to 55 years in prison (another 15 were tacked on after he tried to escape from Leavenworth). President Obama commuted his sentence before leaving office (though he was not set free until two weeks ago).
Mayor de Blasio is either ignorant, or lying, when he contends that Lopez Rivera has renounced violence. He never has. In 1999, when President Clinton offered to reduce his sentence, providing he renounce the use of violence, he refused. He said, "The whole thing of contrition, atonement, I have a problem with that."
When Lopez Rivera was released in January, he again refused to apologize for what the FALN did: it was involved in more than 100 bombings, killing at least six people and wounding at least 130 others. New York City was hit hard in 1975 when four were killed and scores were injured at Fraunces Tavern.
The FALN's stated goal is to lead "an armed and political struggle in accordance with the Marxist-Leninist principle" and to implement "the Stalinist ideological position...." This is what defines Lopez Rivera.
Many leaders in the Puerto Rican community have withdrawn from marching in the parade, but not Mayor de Blasio. This is a man who lied to his own children about where he and his wife honeymooned: he told them they went to Canada when, in fact, they went—illegally—to Castro's Cuba. Prior to that, he raised money for the communists in Nicaragua. His seven-figure net worth makes him a Marxist millionaire.
The other Marxist millionaire, Mark-Viverito, is even more hardcore than de Blasio. Three years ago, she was described by a Puerto Rican New York state senator as a person who "has never honored the American flag at any event." Moreover, he added, she knows nothing about the working class, availing herself of "free cars, free chauffeurs, free offices, a big salary, huge stipends," etc.
On May 17, Mark-Viverito traveled to Puerto Rico to celebrate the release of Lopez Rivera. She immediately secured for him the honorary position in the parade, an effort made possible by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman: the wealthy radical made sure that left-wing extremists took control of the event.
Mark-Viverito hates capitalism but loves the bounty it affords her. In 1998, she signed documents on behalf of her family confirming a $186 million sale of a hospital in Puerto Rico: her father had a stake in it, which redounded to her benefit. She wound up splitting $6.7 million with her relatives from the capitalist venture.
The Marxist millionaire is not only filthy rich, she is dishonest. In 2014, she was in the news for failing to report $92,600 in rental income from her East Harlem townhouse. She also managed to qualify for a city program designed to help the poor buy homes, paying no interest on a $70,400 mortgage for her home. That same year it was disclosed that she owned four properties in Puerto Rico: two rental condos, a home worth $500,000, and 7 acres of land worth $250,000.
The Marxist millionaire could teach the Wall Street crowd a thing or two about capitalist investments, yet she pretends to be a member of the proletariat. To wit: She was arrested in 2011 for her illegal activities involved in Occupy Wall Street. "I was more than happy to participate in this action," she said.
Both de Blasio and Mark-Viverito stuck it to Irish Catholics for years by refusing to march in the St. Patrick's Day Parade. As they are wont to do, they lied: They said homosexuals were barred from marching in the parade, knowing full well that gays marched for decades in the parade (homosexuals were not allowed to march under their own banner, any more than pro-life Catholics were).
It is obvious that the mayor and the city council speaker are more at home honoring a man who hates America and champions the terrorist cause than they are in associating with patriotic Irish Catholics. The Puerto Rican people deserve better. They have been morally fleeced by these Marxist millionaires, two of the most dishonest and ideologically corrupt persons ever to hold public office in New York City.