Harlem’s Melissa Mark-Viverito’s Successor Slammed For Also Supporting Puerto Rican Day Parade

May 29, 2017

The fallout over the Puerto Rican Day Parade committee’s decision to honor a convicted terrorist is now haunting Harlem Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s handpicked candidate to succeed her in the City Council, The Post has learned.

Mark-Viverito — who campaigned for FALN leader Oscar López Rivera’s early release from prison and supported the parade’s decision to give him its National Freedom Award — has endorsed her deputy chief of staff, Diana Ayala, to succeed her in the District 8 covering East Harlem and the South Bronx.

The council speaker is term-limited and will leave office in January.

But rival candidate John Ruiz, a Democratic Party district leader and retired firefighter who worked at Ground Zero after 9/11, is boycotting the parade — and slammed Ayala for working with Mark-Viverito to promote López Rivera.


“Diana Ayala and Melissa Mark-Viverito say that Oscar López Rivera is a hero, but he’s a convicted terrorist who bombed East Harlem and threatened to attack the World Trade Center,” said Ruiz, a Democratic Party district leader in East Harlem.

Ruiz said his heroes are members of the uniformed services, hardworking teachers, construction workers and shop owners — not a “mass murderer.”

“I am a proud New Yorker and proud Puerto Rican and I call on them to denounce this disgusting terrorist who has never renounced violence or shown remorse for his attacks on NYC,” Ruiz said.


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“Perhaps Melissa and Diana have forgotten the New Yorkers killed in terrorist attacks, whether they were Oscar López Rivera’s victims or the 3,000 New Yorkers who died on 9/11, including 343 of my brother firefighters. Melissa and Diana might have forgotten the victims of terror, but we will never forget!”

Ayala did not return requests for comment.

Mark-Viverito is widely believed to be the force behind the parade board’s decision to honor López Rivera. But Ruiz’s repudiation shows the controversial move has even ignited fierce opposition among prominent Puerto Ricans on her own turf.

Ruiz said his public break with Mark-Viverito is unfortunate because he has been a “loyal supporter” of the council speaker and East Harlem neighbor.

“Melissa and I have fought many battles together for the benefit of our community. But I’m not blinded by loyalty and I cannot in good conscience support the acts of a terrorist,” he said.

“This is a personal issue for me as a 9/11 first responder who lives with serious health consequences from those terrorist attacks, as do 422,000 other New Yorkers.”

Ruiz, a 23-year FDNY veteran, suffers from respiratory ailments.

López Rivera, 74, was a leader of the FALN, which unleashed a campaign of terror in the mainland US in the 1970s and 1980s in support of Puerto Rican independence.

One of the group’s bombings killed four people at historic Fraunces Tavern in the Financial District in 1975.

In 1981, López Rivera was convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government, robbery and transportation of explosives and sentenced to 55 years in prison.

He served 35 years before former President Barack Obama commuted his sentence in January.

Virtually all major sponsors have pulled out of the parade over the López Rivera honor — including Goya Foods, AT&T, Corona, Coca-Cola, JetBlue, the New York Yankees and television stations Univision, Telemundo and NBC-TV, among others.

And Gov. Cuomo and other statewide elected officials said they will not march in the parade this year — though Mayor de Blasio still intends to join in.

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