"Godfather" of Puerto Rican Day Parade Steps Down

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images/Yana Paskova
    A participant waves a flag in the annual Puerto Rico Day Parade, June 8, 2008 in New York City. The parade honoring Puerto Ricans is an annual New York City tradition and takes place along Fifth Avenue. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

    A Telemundo soap opera actor's past issues with domestic violence have come back to haunt him.

    The actor decided not to participate in New York City's Puerto Rican Day parade, after critics called for a boycott of the festivities because of his history of domestic violence.

    "It was never my intention to divide a people, much less a community that distinguishes itself by celebrating with pride its identity, nationality and culture through the largest parade in the United States," said Osvaldo Rios in statement Tuesday.

    Rios, 49, was convicted on a domestic violence charge in 2003, stemming from a 1996 assault.

    Several New York City councilwomen protested Rios' involvement.

    "Domestic violence is a destructive cycle. Lives are destroyed and futures are damaged by this horrendous crime. We simply cannot remain silent on this issue," said Melissa Mark-Viverito, Annabel Palma, Rosie Mendez, Julissa Ferreras, Maria del Carmen Arroyo and Diana Reyna and state Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo in a statement.

    Rios had been chosen as the event's "padrino internacional," or "international Godfather."

    The parade's states marshal, Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, told organizers on Friday he would not be part of the parade because of Rios' participation.

    "I do not believe that honoring an individual who has committed such a serious crime is in keeping with the spirit of our parade or the principles of our community," he said. "I believe we must send a message of zero tolerance for violence against women."

    Carlos Velasquez, president of Galos Corp., which is organizing the parade, said he did not know if Gutierrez would consider participating now that Rios has stepped down.