NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - The controversy over former militant Oscar Lopez Rivera is still threatening to cast a cloud over Sunday's National Puerto Rican Day Parade even though he is no longer being honored. Some critics are questioning why he is even being allowed to march in the parade.
Of the many guests honored at a reception Friday night ahead of the annual parade, Lopez Rivera was not among them. The Puerto Rican nationalist served 35 years in prison for his connection to a terror network that carried out more than a hundred bombings in the 1970s and 1980s, including one in Manhattan that killed four people. He is an indisputably polarizing figure, condemned by some as a terrorist and hailed by others as a hero.
In his final days in office, President Barack Obama commuted Lopez Rivera's sentence but did not pardon him.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito fought for Lopez Rivera to be honored in the parade despite sponsors pulling support, floats cut down by half, and dignitaries -- including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Chuck Schumer -- skipping out in protest.
The parade itself falls on a historic day for the U.S. territory, which is in the midst of an economic crisis. In a referendum scheduled for Sunday, Puerto Rico's voters will decide whether to pursue U.S. statehood or not.