Polanco Politics: Oscar Lopez Rivera Is A Terrorist, Not A Hero

Capture_J C Polanco_2015Polanco Politics: Oscar Lopez Rivera is a Terrorist 

by Juan Carlos Polanco, Esq., MBA

Oscar Lopez Rivera is a terrorist and should not be celebrated.

Scrolling through my Facebook timeline and walking the halls of where I teach at the City University of New York, you’d think Oscar Lopez Rivera was a mix of hero, freedom fighter, liberator and a splash of Mother Teresa.

And if you get a chance to hear the rhetoric of many of our elected officials, you’d be under the absurd impression that the U. S. has taken an innocent man and thrown him in prison for being Puerto Rican and peacefully protesting for independence of the Commonwealth.

Oscar Lopez Rivera (1)Nothing could be further from the truth.  Oscar Lopez Rivera is a grade A, bona-fide, certified terrorist. Let’s not act like we don’t know a terrorist is someone who uses terror, killing, destruction and psychologically using the threat of violence to make a political message. The definition doesn’t change because it’s politically convenient, it’s a Spanish surname and not Arabic or because he’s your countryman.

Oscar Lopez Rivera knowingly joined and quickly became a leader in the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN – “Armed Forces of National Liberation”) organization that worked to get political consideration for a change in the status of Puerto Rico. Some of the tactics included violence to get the message across. FALN, destroyed, killed and threatened Americans all under guise of getting attention for Puerto Rican independence. Lopez’s group claimed responsibility in over 100 bombings across the country including airports and killed four people and maimed fifty others. In New York City alone they bombed the Fraunce’s Tavern in Manhattan killing Frank Connor, James Gerzok, Alejandro Berger, Harold Sherburne.

Four Americans lost their lives in that attack. Let’s not forget the four NYPD officers left maimed and disabled, including Angel Poggi who was blinded by another bombing. In the leadership of the group that claimed responsibility was Oscar Lopez Rivera. Spare me the nonsense, Lopez is a terrorist. If his name were Muhammad Sayed we wouldn’t even have the discussion. Today, Lopez would have been sentenced to death following in the footsteps of Boston Marathon Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Tsarnaev was part of a conspiracy that killed three to protest American Imperialism. Sound familiar?

After being caught with explosives and plans for further terrorist attacks, he was convicted of several crimes and sentenced to prison for 55 years. Since his conviction his group conspired to help him escape using bombs, helicopters and shooting correction officers. After thwarting Lopez’s escape, he was sentenced once again to an additional 15 years. That didn’t stop the group from attempting another escape using the same killer tactics.

Oscar Lopez Rivera muralBecause of political pressure, this terrorist once received a pardon offer from President Clinton but rejected the deal. Rivera’s reasons for rejecting the offer further demonstrate his unwavering commitment to terrorism. President Clinton’s pardon offer required Rivera to admit culpability and submit to a few years on parole.

Today, he has become a folk hero to many Latinos. Why?

Supporters romanticize the idea Rivera turned down the offer because this terrorist’s partners were not given the same offer. The truth is that President Clinton’s offer also required him to renounce terrorism as a tool and Lopez refused.


So why is a committed terrorist being honored at this year’s Puerto Rican Day Parade? Recently, there hundreds marched through Harlem and East Harlem celebrating his life and pleading for President Obama to pardon. Again, why?

The families of those killed and injured by Oscar Lopez Rivera’s terrorists pals matter.  And since when do American politicians support terrorists?  Members of Congress Jose Serrano and Nydia Velasquez, Assemblyman Jose Rivera, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and incredibly, state Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr, plus other politicians attended this disgraceful march and rally in support of Oscar Lopez Rivera.

I guess for some Hispanic politicians and left progressives, it’s okay when it’s politically beneficial to celebrate an unrepentant terrorist.  This is what we call in Spanish, VAGABUNDERIA, that of the vagabond.

For me, the continued celebration of Oscar Lopez Rivera is nonsense, hypocritical and ignorant moral relativism at its highest height of absurdity.

The truth is Oscar Lopez Rivera is a committed terrorist and should not be celebrated.

Juan Carlos “J.C.” Polanco, a former Bronx Commissioner and President of the NYC Board of Elections, is an attorney, the NYC Regional Director for the State Assembly Minority Leader and teaches at the City University of New York. J.C. appears regularly on NY1 Inside City Hall, Pura Politica, CNN, Fox News, Bronxnet Open and Univision 41.

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