Mayor: Puerto Rican militant to step aside from parade role

López Rivera was sentenced to 55 years in prison for "seditious conspiracy", among other charges, for his leadership role in the Armed Forces of National Liberation, which was responsible for more than 100 US bombings.

He served more than 35 years in prison before his sentence was commuted by Democratic President Barack Obama.

After parade organizers announced the event would honor Rivera, corporate sponsors including JetBlue, Univision, AT&T, Coca-Cola and the New York Yankees either pulled financial support or reduced their involvement last month.

De Blasio says he thinks people are misunderstanding organizers' intentions with the selection of Lopez Rivera, and that he hopes people won't let their feelings toward Lopez Rivera get in the way of celebrating the parade's tradition.

Organizations like the New York City Fire Department Hispanic Society, for example, have have stated they will not attend the parade.

Lopez has now declined the offer, though he still plans to march in the parade. Law enforcement officers were among those injured in the FALN blasts.

Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera center who pardoned by former President Barack Obama in January arrives for a gathering in his honor in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. Organizers of New Yor
Arbogast File by Adam Shaw2 Jun 20170 2 Jun 20172 Jun 2017

The parade's board of directors issued a statement saying they looked forward to marching with Lopez Rivera "not as an honoree but as a humble Puerto Rican and grandfather".

"Unfortunately, the parade and the plight of Puerto Rico have been overshadowed by needless controversy", de Blasio's statement read.

Oscar Lopez Rivera had been named a "National Freedom Hero" by the parade committee, and was asked to march at the front of the line.

Former terror leader Oscar Lopez Rivera has "more integrity" than Mayor de Blasio or Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis said Friday.

The 74-year-old Lopez Rivera has thousands of supporters who see him as a political prisoner, jailed for seeking independence for Puerto Rico, a USA territory.

Though Lopez, a Vietnam War veteran who moved from Puerto Rico to Chicago as a child, wasn't convicted of having a role in the FALN bombings, those who lost loved ones hold him responsible.

  • Larry Hoffman