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December 2, 2008

Statement on Dr. Ramon Vélez
Founding Member of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade

I am profoundly saddened to learn of the passing of a beloved Puerto Rican cultural leader, New York politician and dear friend, Dr. Ramón S. Vélez.  The work he did for our city and the Puerto Rican community serves as an example for us and for future generations.

Dr. Vélez had a vision to share the great pride and festivity that the Puerto Rican Day Parade offered Boricuas in New York, and to make it a national symbol for all to see.  For 38 years, New York was the home and center of the Puerto Rican community in the States.  But in 1995, Ramon, along with Ralph, María and Madelyn, moved the City parade to a national stage, projecting to the country the best of our Puerto Rican heritage.

The founding principles of the Parade were, and continue to be, providing a platform to showcase our people’s contributions to this country and encouraging our fellow Boricuas to be proud of their heritage while fomenting them to succeed as members of this society.

I was deeply honored to participate at this year’s parade, honoring the 13th National Puerto Rican Day.  Ramon led the National parade for five years and his leadership will continue to serve as an example upon which new generations of leaders will build.  Our City and our community join in prayers with the Vélez family.  His work lives on through the multitude of parades that have sprung up across the country and in the continuing education of our youth in the values, contributions and pride of our birthplace and culture.