Recently freed Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar López Rivera, who was accused for bombings linked to his group in the 1970s and 80s, will be welcomed with celebrations in the Chicago neighborhood of Humboldt Park by people who call him a patriot and political prisoner.
Lopez was sentenced to 55 years in prison as being the top leader of the Armed Forces of National Liberation, or FALN, an ultranationalist Puerto Rican group that claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings at government buildings, department stores, banks and restaurants in New York, Chicago, Washington and Puerto Rico during the 1970s and early 1980s. The FBI classified the Marxist-Leninist group as a terrorist organization. His sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama and Lopez was freed from house arrest in San Juan earlier this week.
The celebrations will be held on Thursday and many politicians and supporters are expected to be present including Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, and Billy Ocasio from the National Puerto Rican Museum of Art.
“Oscar is a patriot and a hero to Puerto Ricans all over the world and his return to Chicago is an event I have spent my entire career working towards,” Gutierrez said in a statement provided to Fox News. “I cannot begin to say how proud I am and how overjoyed my wife and my daughters are to welcome Oscar to Chicago and that we will be able to walk the streets of Chicago with Oscar as a free man.”
There are many people, however, especially the relatives of those who died during the bombings, who are outraged by these preparations. It is believed that the most famous bombing was the still-unsolved 1975 explosion that killed four people and wounded 60 at Fraunces Tavern, a landmark restaurant in New York’s financial district.
“Oscar López Rivera is a convicted terrorist. Bottom line,” Joseph Connor, whose father, Frank, was one of the people killed in the Fraunces Tavern bombing, told Fox News. “Maybe he didn’t actually plant the bomb, but he was the leader of the FALN in the same way that Usama bin Laden was with Al Qaeda.”