Puerto Rican Day Parade show post-hurricane pride

Blanche Robertson
June 13, 2018

Amid all the fun and celebration planned for this year s parade on Sunday, organizers and participants want people to remember that months after Hurricane Maria roared through and with next hurricane season arriving, Puerto Rico is still struggling. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the celebration, which started at 44th Street and continues to 79th Street.

The 61st annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade took over Fifth Avenue in Manhattan Sunday with floats, musicians and brightly colored costumes.

Around eight months have passed since Hurricane Maria first slammed into Puerto Rico, and five percent of the island remains without power while studies continue to demonstrate that the actual death toll from the Category 4 storm is many, many times higher than the official count put forth by US officials. Some parade-goers have draped Puerto Rican flags over their shoulders. "We are Americans, and I think that I came to represent the fact that no one wants to admit that nearly 5,000 lives were lost in Hurricane Maria", Ortiz said.

Some demonstrators chanted "Respect Puerto Rico" as the parade passed Trump Tower. They also waved flags in the direction of the luxury high-rise.

Like many people, Anya Garcia showed up with her extended family. At a pre-parade breakfast, Cuomo said, "We celebrate much, but we also stand and march in defiance today".

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Governor Andrew Cuomo had harsh words before the parade for President Trump's ineffective hurricane relief efforts.

"We're three generations strong here", said Garcia, 35, of Brooklyn. 'I now have my daughter into it and so we'll be coming for years to go'.

"On this day of unity, we use our collective voice to remind the elected officials enthusiastically marching with us this Sunday that they also have a responsibility to advocate for policies that treat the over 8 million Puerto Ricans, regardless of whether they live stateside or on the island, like the USA citizens they are, with the dignity and respect everyone deserves in a time of crisis".

This year's parade comes a year after a controversial one, when the parade organization made a decision to recognize Oscar Lopez Rivera, a former member of a militant group responsible for a series of bombings.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, center, leading a group of state and city officials during the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

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