NEW YORK.- The National Puerto Rican Parade in New York turned into its usual boisterous celebration Sunday, but many participants also saw it as an occasion to express their more somber concerns over the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.
Along the parade route in the heart of Manhattan, people carried signs with tributes like “New York Stands with Puerto Rico,” ‘’You will not be forgotten” and “Decolonize Puerto Rico.”
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Many also waved Puerto Rican flags and danced as they made their way down Fifth Avenue. Remembering those still struggling in Puerto Rico “makes today important but it also makes it bittersweet,” said Nora Ortiz.
Ortiz, 53, of Brooklyn, and other paradegoers voiced frustration over what they said was an under-reporting of the death toll in Puerto Rico and a tepid emergency response by the administration of President Donald Trump.
A recent study from Harvard University estimated there were up to 4,600 more deaths than usual in the three months after Hurricane Maria, although some independent experts questioned the methods and the number in that study.
The official federal death toll is at 64. “We’re part of the United States. We are Americans, and I think that I came to represent the fact that no one wants to admit that almost 5,000 lives were lost in Hurricane Maria,” Ortiz said.
Julio Pabon led a group of demonstrators who chanted “Respect Puerto Rico” as it passed Trump Tower. They also waved flags in the direction of the luxury high-rise.