Big-name sponsors are yanking their support from New York’s 2017 Puerto Rican Day Parade after organizers decided to honor a man labeled by U.S. officials as a terrorist.
Coca-Cola, AT&T, JetBlue, Univision, The Daily News, the New York Yankees and Goya Foods are among the companies that have decided not to sponsor the event, which is scheduled to take place on June 11. It’s expected to attract more than one million people.
The 2017 parade is set to honor Oscar López Rivera — a man who was involved with FALN, a Puerto Rican nationalist group that was linked to terrorist attacks in several US cities in the 1970s. Bombings that are believed to have been carried out by the group killed five people and injured dozens more.
Puerto Rico has been a US territory since 1898, and various separatist movements have cropped up ever since. Today, Puerto Rico is in the throes of an economic crisis that has spurred many to flee the island for the US mainland. Some blame Puerto Rico’s current troubles, at least in part, on the US government.
US law enforcement officials have labeled López Rivera as a terrorist for decades, though he was never directly linked to any attacks. He served upwards of 30 years of a 50-year prison sentence for “seditious conspiracy” before President Obama commuted his sentence on Jan. 18.
In a May 12 statement defending the decision to honor López Rivera, parade organizers said that while López Rivera is undoubtedly “controversial,” he is nevertheless an extremely influential Puerto Rican.
“Some people call him a terrorist while others think of him as a freedom fighter, as was the case with Nelson Mandela,” the statement reads. It adds that his “participation is not an endorsement of the history that led to his arrest, nor any form of violence.”
Some companies have severed ties with the parade regardless.
AT&T, JetBlue, Coca-Cola, Univision, The New York Yankees and The Daily News all said that instead of paying sponsorship fees, they would…