Puerto Rico militant freed from custody after 36 years

Postado Mai 19, 2017

Oscar Lopez Rivera, who for decades has been in prison for his role in a Puerto Rican nationalist group connected to terrorist attacks in USA cities, will be released on Wednesday.

One still-unsolved bombing at a NY tavern in 1975 killed four people and injured more than 60.

He wasn't convicted of any role in the bombings. But those who lost loved ones hold him responsible.

Supporters of a 74-year-old Puerto Rican nationalist freed from house arrest this week after decades in prison will honor him as he returns to his former hometown of Chicago. A street celebration in Rio Piedras was expected to draw thousands of supporters later in the day.

Newly freed Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera says independence militants didn't hate Americans but sought justice and full sovereignty for Puerto Rico. After Obama commuted Lopez Rivera's sentence in January, Miranda on Twitter invited him to attend a "Hamilton" performance in Chicago and even said he'd personally play the title character; it's unclear whether that is in the works, though. The island's 3.5 million residents are USA citizens and can serve in the military.

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

Former prisoner Luis Rosa, back to camera, welcomes Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera upon arrival for a press conference on El Escambron Beach following Lopez's release from house arrest after decades in custody, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Supporters also plan to honor him at the June 11 parade down New York's Fifth Avenue with the title Procer de la Libertad - National Freedom Hero.

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

Rep. Nydia Velazquez, the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the House of Representatives, said she's seen how Lopez Rivera unites the country.

In 1999, US President Bill Clinton offered Lopez clemency, but he rejected the offer because it excluded two associates who have since been released.

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

"We have had plenty of exercises yet the status of Puerto Rico has not changed", he said.

Roughly 50 people congregated in the streets outside the apartment building in San Juan's Santurce district holding flowers and Puerto Rican flags, some chanting: "Free at last!"

"I've had long hours in the middle of the night trying to figure out what I am missing, why he has all this support", Diane Berger Ettenson said of Lopez Rivera.

Lopez Rivera was considered a top leader of the ultranationalist Puerto Rican group the Armed Forces of National Liberation, or FALN, The Associated Press reported. Sixty-one percent who answered a second question said they favored statehood, but almost 500,000 left that question blank, leading many to question the results.