Puerto Rican group incensed over parade approach

The Latino social-services organization called Concilio is changing the way it will market the 49th annual Puerto Rican Parade. Concilio intends to roll it together with many other Hispanic-oriented festivals in Philadelphia under the banner of the Hispanic Heritage Festival.

The move has upset some area Puerto Ricans.

Concilio handles a lot of the marketing and fundraising for the September parade. Including it in an overarching cultural festival is intended to help with fundraising.

“It doesn’t change anything about the individual events,” said Julie Cousler Emig, deputy director of Concilio. “It just helps to bring clarity for us and our staff and for the folks we are trying to pool in to sponsor and support the events.”

But some Puerto Ricans say the umbrella festival threatens to subsume their heritage into a generalized Hispanic festival. State Rep. Angel Cruz is reacting strongly to the marketing campaign by asking the state auditor general to investigate Concilio’s board. He says it doesn’t have enough members to qualify as a nonprofit.

“In order to pass procedures, you have to have a quorum. They are in violation of their nonprofit status,” said Cruz. “I’m asking for an investigation, and to seize all functions out of the organization until they can comply.”

Cruz is taking his threat a step further by requesting the resignation of Concilio’s board chairman, Tony Valdes.

The recent population census shows a sharp increase in the number of Latinos in Philadelphia, with Puerto Ricans being the largest segment of that demographic.

President Barack Obama is putting Puerto Rico in the spotlight this week by making an official visit to the unincorporated territory. He is the first U.S. president since John F. Kennedy to make the trip.

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