The NiLP Network on Latino Issues (May 25, 2013) quotes several enraged comments before examining this year’s concern regarding the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, to be held on June 9, 2013, in New York. The article points out the crude irony of the Coors beer campaign’s use of the island’s flag on their cans of Coors Light—as the “cerveza oficial” of the Puerto Rican Day Parade—vis à vis this year’s parade theme: “Salud: Celebrating Your Health.”
It seems like the leadership of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, to be held on June 9th in NYC, just can’t help themselves! As you can see, they have cut some sort of deal with the MillerCoors company to not only be the official beer of the parade but to display their logo, and the Puerto Rican flag, on cans of their Coors Light beer. As Ephraim Cruz, Ramon Jimenez and others have pointed out, this is unacceptable, but instead of criticizing Coors the cry is going out on the need to hold the Board of Directors of the Parade accountable themselves!
What makes this even more egregious is this year’s parade theme is: Salud — Celebrating Your Health. Among Latinos, Puerto Ricans have the highest rate of alcohol dependence and the highest rate of the need for alcohol use treatment, according to the National Institutes of Health. So, in this case, they must be using “salud” as drinkers do,”¡Salud!” and not as a public health message.
You may recall that in 2011, MillerCoors had to discontinue its ‘Emborícuate’ Coors Light Puerto Rican Day Parade advertising campaign after widespread community criticism. This campaign had been running for three years straight until those in social media raised issue as a call by Coors for Puerto Ricans to get drunk on their product. In fact, back in 1984, Coors had signed an unholy agreement with six leading national Latino organizations in which they agreed to getting larger grants from the company if they increased the amount of Coors beer consumed by the Latino community, an agreement that was scrapped after strong criticism by the Institute for Puerto Rican Policy (IPR) (as NiLP was called then) and other community leaders.
So it is surprising to many in the Puerto Rican community that the Parade leadership would allow the Puerto Rican flag to be displayed this year on a beer can. Are they willing to allow the perception that in exchange for money or donated product that they would allow unhealthy messages to their community? The Board and many other volunteers of the Parade work hard every year to pull off this unique and high profile event, why would they want to tarnish their efforts in this way?
Critics have called on the Puerto Rican community to contact the leadership of the Parade to let them know how you feel about this. Besides telling them to junk these beer cans, does the issue of the need for a broader leadership of the Parade need to be raised as well, given this history? According to their website, these are the members of the National Puerto Rican Parade Board of Directors and staff:Carlos Velazquez, Official Business & Marketing Agent Galos@galoscorp.com Madelyn Lugo, Chairperson firstname.lastname@example.org Melissa R. Quesada, Vice Chairperson email@example.com Trinity A. Padilla, Executive Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org Shirley Cox, Treasurer email@example.com Luis Rivera, General Coordinator No Email Available Rafael E. Dominguez, Director of External Affairs firstname.lastname@example.org María Román Dumén, Honorary Member email@example.com