MOTT HAVEN, The Bronx - Oscar Lopez Rivera is speaking out since setting off a firestorm over his role in New York City's 60th Annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
**Watch the full interview here**
Full interview with Oscar Lopez Rivera
Many sponsors and participants have pulled out because of the decision to honor the nationalist, who was just released from prison over known ties to a terror group responsible for bombings in the United States.
Lopez Rivera, 74, was released earlier last month after 36 years behind bars. The 74-year-old was a former member of the National Liberation of Armed Forces, commonly known as FALN, a Puerto Rican nationalist terror group that claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings in the 70s and 80s. That includes a deadly 1975 blast at Fraunces Tavern in New York City that killed four people.
Watch what Lopez Rivera has to say about FALN.
Interview with Oscar Lopez Rivera
Initially, parade organizers had planned to honor Lopez Rivera as a "National Freedom Hero."
Now, instead of having a formal role in the parade, Lopez Rivera will march in the parade. He decided only to participate so as to not distract from the event.
The Board of Directors of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade released the following statement after his announcement:
"We are looking forward to marching with Oscar Lopez Rivera and respect his decision to walk up Fifth Avenue, 'not as an honoree but as a humble Puerto Rican and grandfather.' Now we can focus again on important issues and the plight of Puerto Rico."
Earlier this month, NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill announced he'd be boycotting the parade. Sponsors JetBlue, AT&T, Coca-Cola and Goya Foods have also pulled their support.
A parade preview:
Puerto Rican Day Parade this wekend puts spotlight on country's election
You can watch the parade on Channel 7 and on our website and app, abc7NY beginning at noon, on Sunday, June 11.