Puerto Rico's morgue is overflowing with unclaimed bodies, the result of budget cutbacks in the USA territory since last year's devastating Hurricane Maria.
Along the parade route in the heart of Manhattan, people carried signs with tributes like "New York Stands with Puerto Rico, " "You will not be forgotten, " and "Decolonize Puerto Rico". "We must show the people of Puerto Rico we are their ally, and divest NY state pension funds from any Puerto Rican debt holdings, now".
"This is a year where Puerto Rico has been devastated", said Louis Maldonado, chairman of the board that oversees the parade and its affiliated events.
'Maria unmasked that we are a colony, ' said Pabon, 66, of the Bronx.
Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is seeking reelection, walked in the parade.
Few Storm Chances For Monday
Isolated afternoon storms will likely give way to a more solid line of strong storms by late this evening. It won't be an all-day event with highs in the upper-70s to lower-80s, though cooler lakeside.
That help has continued and has, through the efforts of Paterson Partners with Puerto Rico, led to the donation of money and other supplies to help rebuild one of the many schools destroyed by the storm. She said she has been coming to the parade since she was a toddler.
The initial deployment of 100 students from SUNY and CUNY schools and almost 20 skilled labor volunteers will stay for two weeks and will assist non-profit rebuilding organizations on the island.
The Governor has been criticized in the past for taking money from hedge fund managers and others on Wall Street who have profited from Puerto Rico's economic decline, yet has continued to accept those donations.
"They said, 'Great. We can work on our tans.' And I said, 'Not exactly".
"On this day of unity, we use our collective voice to remind the elected officials enthusiastically marching with us this Sunday that they also have a responsibility to advocate for policies that treat the over 8 million Puerto Ricans, regardless of whether they live stateside or on the island, like the USA citizens they are, with the dignity and respect everyone deserves in a time of crisis".
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This year's parade comes a year after a controversial one, when the parade organization's decision to recognize Oscar Lopez Rivera, a former member of a militant group responsible for a series of bombings.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, center, leading a group of state and city officials during the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
"We're here to call an end to policies of austerity that are literally killing people". He and the group he was marching wore black T-shirts that reflect the Harvard study's estimate of the dead.
Trump last week attended a meeting on disaster preparedness at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington.
Hurricane season is descending once again on the Caribbean, while Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover.
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The administration was roundly criticized for its performance after Maria struck, and hundreds of thousands in the USA territory remain without electricity.