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Puerto Rican Day Parade

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MillerCoors on Thursday formally apologized to the Puerto Rican community in New York City and said it will drop a promotional campaign featuring the Puerto Rican flag in its beer cans.

In a May 30 letter addressed to the grassroots group Boricuas for a Positive Image, Nehl Horton, Chief Public Affairs & Communications Officers at MillerCoors in Chicago, wrote: “We are no longer producing the packages that you cite in your communications and effective tomorrow morning, we will cease distribution as well.”

The apology came after days of intense pressure from Puerto Ricans in New York City who demanded both MillerCoors and the organizers of the Puerto Rican Day Parade to stop using their flag to sell an alcoholic beverage.

“Today’s announcement that Coors will cease all production of products bearing the Puerto Rican flag is yet another incredible victory for our community, which was brought about solely by sustained pressure at the grassroots,” wrote City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito.

UPDATE: The National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc. has issued a statement about this story.

A New York City grassroots group known as “Boricuas for a Positive Image” is mounting a campaign demanding MillerCoors to stop using the Puerto Rican flag in the beer cans being distributed around the city to promote the upcoming Puerto Rican Day Parade.

The cans of Coor’s Light, which is being marketed as the official beer of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, feature the parade organization’s logo and includes the colors of the Puerto Rican flag. This, the grassroots group says, “places a price tag on our flag, our dignity, pride and history.”

In addition, Puerto Ricans are outraged about the image of their flag being associated with an alcoholic beverage. Among latino populations, Puerto Ricans have the highest rate of alcoholic dependence. What’s more, this year’s parade theme –“Salud–Celebrating Your Health”– is not perceived as corresponding to alcohol consumption.

Other corporate sponsors of this year’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade include Goya, JetBlue, Univision 41, and Banco Popular.

Over Memorial weekend, both Univision and DNAInfo spoke to East Harlem City Councilor Melissa Mark-Viverito, who said the use of the flag in Coor’s Light beer cans was “disrespectful.”

MillerCoors did not respond to emails seeking for comment. The National Puerto Rican Day Parade issued the following statement Tuesday evening:

“The mark in the promotion of Coors Light is NOT the Puerto Rican flag, NOR the logo of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc.  It is an artwork created exclusively for this campaign, that integrates elements of the Parade’s symbol such as an apple, a star, and red, white, blue, and black colors. We call on community leaders to clear this misunderstanding, and stop misguidedly telling the public that the Puerto Rican flag has been posted on beer cans, something that the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc. would NEVER authorize”.