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Private: CPI at the Puerto Rican Parade

By Lily Goldklang 6/14/2022
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Sunday morning, Center for Political Innovation members and others gathered in the rain to support the independence contingency of the 2022 Puerto Rican National Day Parade in New York. The rainy weather, however, did not manage to dampen spirits. CPI members Lily Goldklang and Don D. were present holding the Free Alex Saab Banner, alongside other groups with another Free Alex Saab banner. The parade went on as planned, marching nearly 2 miles up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.

CPI members with the Free Alex Saab banner at the parade

CPI marched with the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party and got the chance to learn more about the history of Puerto Rico as a US colony.

After the Spanish-American war of 1898, when the people of Puerto Rico helped the United States defeat and expel the Spanish colonists, the US reneged on its promise of self determination for Puerto Rico. President William McKinley and the US congress declared that constitutional law did not apply to America’s newly acquired colonies, and they have been ruled and taxed without representation ever since. The very same type of treatment by the British Empire was the impetus for our American War of Independence.

Amidst the ongoing economic deterioration and neglect of Puerto Rico by the Federal Government, particularly in the disastrous response to Hurricane Maria in 2017, the Puerto Rican Independence movement has steadily gained ground – with numerous heroic and militant struggles throughout the years.

In 1948, the Puerto Rican legislature, dominated by pro-US forces, passed the infamous Gag law, banning the display of the Puerto Rican flag and outlawing any speech, art, or media advocating independence. There were various revolts throughout this time and with this gag law in place, an independence fighter named Lolita Lebrón led an armed attack on the US house of representatives. Upon her arrest, Lolita exclaimed, “I did not come to kill anyone, I came to die for Puerto Rico!” No one was killed in the attack. Lolita Lebrón was imprisoned until Jimmy Carter commuted her and her comrades’ sentences in 1979.

The Puerto Rican independence movement also views the struggle for Cuban, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan sovereignty as being tied in with their own struggle. Because of this, the Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar López Rivera has taken up the cause of Alex Saab, being the honorary chair of the Free Alex Saab US Campaign. Alex Saab, the Venezuelan diplomat, was kidnapped two years ago by the United States – a flagrant violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty much like how the US continues to violate Puerto Rico’s sovereignty to this very day, holding the island captive as a colony.

Despite attempts by the parade’s corporate sponsors to suppress and divide the independence contingency, the Independentistas stood strong and took the tough stance of standing with countries that America has demonized for decades, such as Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. The response to these sentiments from the crowd was surprisingly positive, with many putting their fists up in the air or giving a thumbs up to show support for anti-imperialism and Puerto Rican independence. Overall, the parade was a success, with many people learning about the case of Alex Saab who had not known his name prior.