Puerto Rico militant being freed from custody after 36 years

Puerto Rico militant being freed from custody after 36 years

Roughly 50 people congregated in the streets outside the apartment building in San Juan's Santurce district holding flowers and Puerto Rican flags. A group of singers from University of Puerto Rico's choir harmonized as Lopez drove by. Lopez Rivera was a member of the leftist group FALN that claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings across New York, Chicago, Washington and Puerto Rico in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Lopez held a news conference Wednesday hours after being released from house arrest after decades in custody. One of the bombings, at the Fraunces Tavern in NY in 1975, killed four people and injured more than 60 others. It is considered by many the deadliest terrorist act on US soil between the 1920 Wall Street bombing and the first attack on the World Trade Center, in 1994.

He wasn't convicted of any role in the bombings.

"They called my father and the people they murdered at Fraunces 'reactionary corporate executives, '" said Connor.

Newly freed Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera says independence militants didn't hate Americans but sought justice and full sovereignty for Puerto Rico.

He also said he believed an upcoming referendum on Puerto Rico's status will be an "exercise in futility".

In addition to his appearance in the city where FALN racked up its greatest body count, Lopez-Rivera has been booked to appear in San Francisco and Chicago, where he will have a streetway named in his honor. There are plans to honor him at the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade.

"Hamilton" star Lin-Manuel Miranda, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and others applauded Rivera's release and the man's commitment to Puerto Rican independence while those who suffered from the actions of FALN express bafflement and outrage.

"True, the 74-year-old probably no longer threatens the community; and yes, 35 years is a long time, perhaps even "a sufficient amount of time", as a senior administration official put it. Lopez Rivera served honorably in Vietnam before undergoing what today might be called "self-radicalization".

The Twitter account for Venezuela leader Nicholas Maduro heralded his release. At his sentencing, a federal judge termed him an "unreconstructed revolutionary". Lopez Rivera received an additional 15 years on his sentence over an escape attempt.

(AP Photo/Ed Bailey, File).

When then-President Bill Clinton offered clemency to several of the jailed FALN in 1999, Lopez Rivera rejected the offer in part because it excluded two comrades.

President Barack Obama commuted his sentence in January, the same day a commutation was announced for Chelsea Manning, who was also freed Wednesday after serving time for leaking military secrets.

President Evo Morales has welcomed today the release of Puerto Rican independence activist, Oscar Lopez Rivera, after spending almost 36 years at a USA prison. He had been staying with his daughter at her home in San Juan.

He was never tied to any specific bombing, but he was convicted on a number of charges including seditious conspiracy.

The group claimed responsibility for dozens of bombings throughout the US and Puerto Rico in the 1970s and 1980s.

"Still, unconditional release, for someone who claimed a right to wage war on the United States and repeatedly put innocent civilian lives at risk?" The island's 3.5 million residents are United States citizens and can serve in the military.

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