NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will not march in this year’s Puerto Rican Day Parade, CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer learned Friday.
Cuomo is the latest leader to withdraw from the parade, amid controversy over the event’s honoree, Oscar Lopez Rivera.
A spokesperson for the governor told Kramer his “support and long term affection for the Puerto Rican community remains unwavering, unfortunately he will not be marching in this year’s parade.”
Lopez Rivera served decades in prison for his involvement in The Armed Forces of National Liberation, or FALN.
During the 1970s and 1980s, FALN claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings in New York, Chicago, Washington and Puerto Rico, including a blast that killed four people at New York’s historic Fraunces Tavern in 1975.
He wasn’t convicted in any of the bombings, but a former FALN member testified that he instructed members on how to make bombs, detonators and silencers. While serving his sentence, he was convicted of hatching a plot to escape from prison using explosives and a helicopter.
Lopez Rivera served 35 years until his sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama.
O’Neill’s decision marks a dramatic break from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is marching this election year.
The parade’s board of directors released a statement Monday defending its decision to name Lopez Rivera as “Procer de la Libertad” — National Freedom Hero — for the June 11 march down Fifth Avenue.
“We understand that others may not be able to be with us,” the statement said. “However, we will continue to represent all voices, with an aim to spark dialogue and find common ground, so that we can help advance our community and build cultural legacy.”
Meanwhile, sponsors, including JetBlue and Goya, have pulled their support as well.