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PARADES AND POWER:
THE BORICUAN ODYSSEY

This new book traces the sources of Puerto Rican striving and setbacks in New York and elsewhere. > By Bienvenido Ruiz

City Limits WEEKLY #594
July 2, 2007

Boricua Power: A Political History of Puerto Ricans in the United States; By José Ramón Sánchez; NYU Press; $24.

On a sunny Sunday last month, thousands embraced the 50th National Puerto Rican Day Parade as a celebration of their heritage and a moment of pride and visibility. It was the prime occasion for politicians, celebrities, corporations and assorted public figures to display – and claim the rewards of – their “solidarity” with this community. Besides its high profile and sheer numbers, this event is a yearly New York City milestone for bringing attention to the myriad conflicts between Puerto Ricans and the city’s powerful.

Again this year, the media recorded an aftermath of controversy: how many Fifth Avenue buildings were barricaded from the crowd; how many people were arrested, and for what; whether the police wrongfully targeted young people for wearing this or that (supposedly gang-related) t-shirt; how people watching a parade could be accused of “unlawful assembly"; and whether there were “wilding” incidents to report, as in past years.

The unfortunate conflicts following this exceptional moment of visibility reflect, in a way, the history of Puerto Ricans in the U.S.

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