Oscar Lopez Rivera, the convicted terrorist freed from prison by President Obama, says it’s “time to move on” from the controversy over his upcoming appearance at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
In an op-ed published in The New York Daily News, the 74-year-old Rivera also urged supporters to “shift the focus” from the ongoing debate over his appearance at the parade, scheduled for June 11.
Rivera, who is designated a “National Freedom Hero” by parade organizers, offered up a generic call for unity in his Daily News op-ed.
“I am very proud to be Puerto Rican, and the National Puerto Rican Day Parade leadership and friends inspire in me even more pride in my community, as it gets ready to provide a space for Puerto Ricans to come together and celebrate our culture, heritage and contributions to society,” the piece begins.
Rivera does not address his affiliation with the terrorist group FALN and casually mentions that he served time in prison.
Instead, he portrays himself as a “humble Puerto Rican and grandfather” who hopes to attend the parade in order to “raise awareness about the fiscal, health care and human rights crisis Puerto Rico is facing at this historic juncture.” (RELATED: Dem Congressman Compares Convicted Terrorist To George Washington)
“We must shift the focus,” writes Rivera, in order to prevent “people who are unfamiliar with Puerto Rican history define the narrative and experiences of our community.”
“I personally, and we as a community have transcended violence — it’s crucial for people to understand that we’re not advocating anything that would be a threat to anyone.”
President Obama commuted Rivera’s prison sentence just before leaving office in January. He was released from jail last month.
The Puerto Rico-born convict was serving a 55-year sentence for seditious conspiracy, arms trafficking and conspiracy to transport explosives as part of his work with FALN, a Puerto Rican terrorist group that set over 120 bombs across the U.S. in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Five people were killed by bombs set by FALN thugs.
Rivera was alleged by fellow FALN members to be a bomb maker for the terrorist group. Though Rivera has vaguely denied the accusation, bomb making materials were found in his Chicago apartment in 1976.
Rivera was convicted in absentia but went on the lam until he was arrested in 1981. In 1988, his sentence was extended 15 years after he attempted to escape prison.
Rivera has become a hero among some left wing activists and politicians. Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez recently compared him to George Washington. New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is also a staunch supporter. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has also come under fire for refusing to skip the parade in light of Rivera’s appearance.
Numerous corporate sponsors, including the Daily News, have also cut ties with the parade because of Rivera’s