Festival renaming upsets Puerto Rican community
A half-century Philadelphia tradition has lost its name. The event formerly known as the Puerto Rican Festival will be called Concilio's 49th Annual Latino Arts and Cultural Festival, and some members of the city's Puerto Rican community are not happy about it.
A half-century Philadelphia tradition has lost its name.
The event formerly known as the Puerto Rican Festival will be called Concilio's 49th Annual Latino Arts and Cultural Festival, and some members of the city's Puerto Rican community are not happy about it.
Former City Councilman Angel Ortiz said the name change detracts from the message of the festival, which runs throughout July and September.
"The festival is about the history of the Puerto Rican struggle in the city," Ortiz said yesterday. "It's about breaking barriers and opening doors for every other community that has followed. You don't just change it without any reasoning."
Ortiz said that the Puerto Rican community had not been consulted about the name change and that he doesn't understand why the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations (Concilio) made the switch.
Concilio's executive director, Joanna Otero-Cruz, said the change was made to better accommodate a changing city.
"Our goal is to make all Latinos in our region feel included in the events," Otero-Cruz wrote in an email to the Daily News.
She added that the Puerto Rican Parade and Gala are "the cornerstone" of the festival and that the change had been made with good intentions.
The renaming issue appears to have united Puerto Ricans determined to preserve the traditions of the festival, which include the raising of Puerto Rico's flag at City Hall.
Oscar Rosario-Fuentes, 50, a Puerto Rican native who grew up in Philadelphia, said he has co-founded a committee called "Save Our Puerto Rican Festival."
He said he plans to hold a public meeting tomorrow to discuss a course of action.
"This is something that the new administration of Concilio did without consulting the Puerto Rican community," he said. "People are upset, and we want some answers."
Willie Torres, 52, a Puerto Rican native who lives in New Jersey, said he has attended the annual festival for as long as he can remember and hopes the name can be changed back.
"What the name change says is that you celebrate 49 years of what?" Rosario said. "The festival represents one of the first Latino institutions founded in Philadelphia."
Founded in 1962, Concilio is the oldest Latino organization in the city, according to its website.
The social-service organization has had its share of controversy.
Roberto Santiago was fired as director in September 2009 amid allegations of child molestation. In March 2010, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission found probable cause that Concilio and Santiago had engaged in sexual harassment against a former female employee. The commission directed Concilio to "cease and desist from discriminating from its employees because of their sex" and to provide sexual-harassment training to employees.