Police advocates are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers to scuttle Mayor Bill de Blasio’s latest nomination to the MTA board — for inviting convicted terror-mastermind Oscar Lopez-Rivera to the Puerto Rican Parade in 2017.
Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez headed the Puerto Rican Day Parade Committee that year and the furor over inviting Lopez-Rivera to it triggered massive boycotts by sponsors such as the New York Yankees and Goya Foods and many others.
Cuomo even refused to march over the controversy. The parade invitation divided Puerto Ricans who love the parade that celebrates their heritage.
“The governor and the state Senate should veto this nomination. She supported someone who blew up buildings,” Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins told The Post Sunday. “A vote for Cortes-Vazquez is a vote to support terrorism.”
The convicted felon Lopez-Rivera was a leader of the Puerto Rican nationalist group Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional, or FALN, which claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings in the 1970s and ’80s.
One was at Fraunces Tavern in Manhattan in 1975, a blast that killed four and injured dozens.
López-Rivera’s sentence for conspiring to overthrow the US government and for carrying explosives was commuted in January 2017 by President Barack Obama after he served more than 35 years in prison.
In 2017, Cortes-Vazquez — who serves as the city’s Department of Aging commissioner — defended welcoming Lopez-Rivera to the parade.
“This year, we took a very bold stance and said, ‘Free Oscar López Rivera,” Cortes-Vazquez said at the time, according to The Observer.
“Some people called him a terrorist, some people called him a nationalist, some people called him a freedom fighter and many different, different things. The point is the man was in prison with no crimes associated with him for 37 years and we thought it was a grave injustice and inhumane.”
She said the committee was proud to support him, and defended a plan to give him a “National Freedom Hero” award, that was ultimately nixed.
“We are very, very proud that Oscar López Rivera has been freed and he’s gonna get a special title this year called the ‘National Freedom Hero,’” Cortes-Vazquez said. “That is one title that will be bestowed only on Oscar.”
National Police Defense Foundation president Michael Palladino also said Cortes-Vazquez’s nomination was beyond the pale.
“She rammed a terrorist down our throats to march in the Puerto Rican Day Parade. She shouldn’t be on the MTA board,” Palladino said.
“You need some good judgment to serve on the MTA board and represent transit riders.”
The Post reported Friday that Cortes-Vazquez does not use mass transit to get to work and gets chauffeured around in a city-funded vehicle.
De Blasio’s selection of Cortes-Vazquez puts Cuomo and the Democratic-run Senate on the spot, said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf.
Democrats in Albany are already getting hammered over stories of alleged criminals being let loose under bail reform, and this is only going to pile on the pressure, he said.
“Democrats in the suburbs have a real problem with bail reform. Democrats having to vote on Cortes-Vasquez in the Senate is going to make things more challenging,” Sheinkopf said.
“Senate Republicans ought to give de Blasio chocolate and a bouquet of flowers for giving them the best gift they’ve gotten in some time.”
Cortes-Vazquez was a top aide to Roberto Ramirez, the one-time Bronx Democratic Party leader. And she served as the head of the Hispanic Foundation and Aspira.
She also previously served as New York Secretary of State under former Govs. Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson.
She was confirmed by the Senate as de Blasio’s appointee to the CUNY’s board of Trustees in 2016 — a year before the controversy over the Puerto Rican Day parade erupted.
Cuomo has to agree to put Cortes-Vasquez’s name forward for confirmation in the state Senate for her to actually take a seat on the MTA board.
Reps for Cuomo’s office and Senate Democratic Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins declined to comment.
“The Mayor has spoken to this numerous times before. This old news has zero to do with her ability to hold the MTA accountable to seniors and straphangers,” said City Hall spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyolerie.
She said the statement is also on behalf of Cortes-Vazquez.
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