Hamilton producer Lin-Manuel Miranda is “sobbing with gratitude.” Why? Because President Obama announced his decision to free Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican domestic terrorist serving 55 years in prison.
Rivera was a leader of the FALN Marxist/Leninist Puerto Rico terrorist group who claimed responsibility for more than 120 bombings, including the bombing of a New York bar that killed four people in 1975 and wounded 60 others.
Rivera’s freedom is a cause for leftist Latinos, something that Senator Bernie Sanders seized during his presidential campaign to rally Latino activists.
“Oscar Lopez Rivera has served 34 years in prison for his commitment to Puerto Rico’s independence,” Sanders wrote on Twitter in May 2016. “I say to President Obama: let him out.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also celebrated Rivera’s freedom on Twitter. “Thank you @POTUS for freeing #OscarLopezRivera,” he wrote in English and Spanish. “Congratulations to all who fought for this day.”
Rep. Luis Gutierrez was also emotional about the news. “I am overjoyed and overwhelmed with emotion,” he said in a statement calling Rivera a “national hero.”
“It will be a blessed day when I can walk and talk with my friend in the fresh air, far from prison walls, and I am so looking forward to that day,” Gutierrez continued.
According to the White House, Rivera was serving prison time for the following crimes after FBI officials discovered dynamite and blasting caps in his apartment:
- Seditious conspiracy
- Interference with interstate commerce by threats or violence
- Possession of an unregistered firearm
- Carrying firearms during the commission of violent crimes
- Interstate transportation of firearms with the intent to commit violent crimes
- Interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle (four counts); Northern District of Illinois
- Conspiracy to escape, to transport explosives with intent to kill and injure people, and to destroy government buildings and property
- Aiding and abetting travel in interstate commerce to carry on arson (two counts)
- Using a telephone to carry on arson (two counts); Northern District of Illinois
“I have no regrets for what I’ve done in the Puerto Rico independence movement,” Rivera said in 1998. “The onus is not on us. The crime is colonialism.”
Thanks to Obama, Rivera’s prison term will expire on May 17, 2017, allowing him to walk free.