Yesterday afternoon Mayor Bloomberg opened the doors once again of Gracie Mansion to kick start the festivities around the largest parade in the nation, the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

The Puerto Rican communities on the mainland and the one on Island have learned to set their differences aside, at least for a week, in order to celebrate our cultural pride and honor our leaders in front of a national audience.

To me, the parade is the largest Hispanic political power expression. The growth of the Hispanic community will continue to be a catalyst for change. In the year of the Census, we cannot forget the fact that even though Puerto Ricans have to catalog ourselves as Latino/Hispanic of Puerto Rican descent, Puerto Ricans are a beautiful "sofrito" mix of European, Black, and native Taino. It is this composition that folks on the mainland, especially members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) forget.

Last March, the Parade took a bold move and decided to exercise its political power by saying YOU ARE NOT WELCOMED to DIAGEO (parent company of Johnny Walker and Captain Morgan). Diageo has decided to leave Puerto Rico and move its Captain Morgan operations to the US Visrgin Islands. This move will impact the federal funds that Puerto Rico receives to help support infrastructure, health and human services, and land preservation.

The Diageo/USVI deal has been extremely controversial and even corrupt in essence. Congress by ommision is allowing almost $2.7 billion to be given to Diageo and all in exchange for only 40-70 jobs. Both side of the political spectrum, not the Governor of the USVI, will have to explain to the American tax payer why they are allowing all this money to be given to a foreign owned company versus the American people that need it.

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