The Puerto Rican Day Parade has a dark secret.
It has nothing to do with celebrities, rich corporations, or slick politicians.
It is a deep mystery, from the heart and history of Puerto Rico, which explains the whole parade…
Mothers clapped their hands…to the bombas and plenas of their childhood.
The Puerto Rican pride spread rapidly.
By 1966, the parade was already a “must do” event for politicians and celebrities.
Today, the parade is a star-studded TV spectacle with 90,000 marchers, 2 million spectators and a horde of corporate sponsors. Marc Anthony, J.Lo, Ricky Martin, Victor Cruz, and nine mayors — including Michael Bloomberg and Bill De Blasio — have all “starred” in it.
But even as the National Puerto Rican Day Parade has become one of the nation’s largest and best-known outdoor celebrations, there is a secret that few people suspect…a secret that reaches into the heart of every Puerto Rican, without their even knowing it.
It is the secret of the Puerto Rican flag.
Everywhere you look, it is an ocean of flags!
Block after block, you see this:
And even this:
This is no accident.
There is a reason for this emotional attachment.
But there is one more reason, why this flag is the emotional heart of the parade.
It is the secret which explains everything.
WHEN OWNING A FLAG WAS A FELONY
For many years, the United States wanted only one flag in Puerto Rico.
Here is that flag, in the inauguration of the first US Governor of Puerto Rico, in April 1900:
Pedro Albizu Campos refused to salute this flag.
It was called Public Law 53, and also known as La Ley de la Mordaza…the Gag Law.
This included singing La Borinqueña, or owning a Puerto Rican flag.
Own a flag…ten years in jail.
Every day, the FBI and Insular Police raided people’s homes, searched for flags, and hauled Puerto Ricans off to jail.
In many cases the flag – all by itself – was the sole piece of evidence.
Own a flag…ten years in jail
They did it all over the island.
In November 1950, they arrested 3,000 Puerto Ricans within one week!
Some of them were only eight years old.
Public Law 53 was passed in 1948.
That much they did understand.
And so, the deep secret of the Puerto Rican Day Parade is this:
Que bonita bandera
Que bonita bandera
Que bonita bandera es la bandera Puertorriqueña
¡ QUE VIVA PUERTO RICO !
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…