This year, René Perez Joglar, frontman of Calle 13, was named the King, or Grand Marshall, of Sunday’s annual Puerto Rican Day Parade; flaunted by New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio and City Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. But the first time the Grammy Award winner MC attended the Puerto Rican Day Parade, he was an 18-year-old college student who watched from the sidelines. That first time, the young Perez Joglar wore a T-shirt of Puerto Rican nationalist Pedro Albizu Campos.
This year, the Puerto Rican Day Parade honored a modern-day nationalist who has been in jail for 33 years under “seditious conspiracy” charges. His name is Oscar Lopez Rivera, and he is 71 years old. His daughter, Clarisa Lopez, walked with Pérez Joglar and hundreds of parade participants, including Mark-Viverito, who join a mounting international campaign that calls for Lopez Rivera’s release.