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Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera freed 36 years after string of bombings

Posted at 8:43 AM, May 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-17 17:37:24-04

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera has been freed from house arrest after decades in custody. It's a case that transformed him into a martyr with supporters but outraged those who lost loved ones in a string of deadly bombings.

The 74-year-old grinned broadly and waved to supporters through a fence at his daughter's San Juan home before getting into a white jeep. He's scheduled to stop at a federal building to return electronic tags that monitored his movements during his home confinement.

Roughly 50 people congregated in the streets outside the apartment building in San Juan's Santurce district holding flowers and Puerto Rican flags. Some chanted:"Free at last!" And a group of singers from University of Puerto Rico's choir harmonized as Lopez drove past.

A street celebration was expected to draw thousands of supporters later in the day.

Goya Foods has decided not to sponsor New York City's annual Puerto Rican Day parade, calling the move a business decision. The June 11 parade will honor Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera.

Jersey City, New Jersey-based Goya Foods had sponsored the parade every year for its 60-year existence, including the first parade in 1958. Parade organizers say they're disappointed in the decision, which they say will jeopardize the 100 college scholarships the parade provides to students.