Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera will be freed

This video says about itself:

13 January 2017

Oscar Lopez Rivera, renowned Puerto Rican activist, fighting for the island’s independence has been in prison for 35 years. Activists world over are appealing for clemency.

From teleSUR:

Oscar Lopez Rivera to Be Freed After 36 Years in US Prison

17 January 2017

Puerto Rico‘s independence leader and longest held political prisoner in the U.S. from Latin America will be free.

The United States government announced Tuesday the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera, who has been imprisoned in the U.S. for 36 years for his struggle to free Puerto Rico from U.S. colonial rule.

Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama commuted Lopez’ sentence, which will expire on May 17, according to a list of commutations announced by the White House.

Celebrations started almost immediately, while Clarissa Lopez, daughter of Lopez, will hold a press conference Wednesday at 10 a.m. in reaction to his release at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Lopez was born in Puerto Rico in 1943 and upon returning to Chicago after serving in the Vietnam War, he joined the struggle for Puerto Rican rights and participated in acts of civil disobedience and other actions.

In 1976, he joined the clandestine fight for the independence of Puerto Rico as a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation. In 1981, he was captured by the FBI and accused of “conspiracy” for his militancy in the FALN.

At the time of his capture, he proclaimed himself a prisoner of war, protected in the first protocol of the Geneva Convention of 1949. The protocol protects Lopez from prosecution for having been arrested in a conflict against colonial occupation.

The U.S. did not recognize Lopez‘ demand and sentenced him to 55 years in prison and after an alleged attempt to escape, the sentence was increased to 70 years in prison, 12 of which he spent in solitary confinement.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1999 offered him a pardon, along with 13 FALN members who accepted, but Lopez rejected it because it included completing 10 more years in jail. Leaders from around the world, as well as human rights organizations, have demanded Lopez’ release for many years.

On June 18, 2012, the U.N. Decolonization Committee approved a resolution, promoted by Cuba, which called for the recognition of Puerto Rico’s right to independence and self-determination and urged the release of all pro-independence prisoners in the United States.

So, not only Chelsea Manning will be freed in May, but Oscar Lopez Rivera as well. However:

From Mumia to Peltier, US Political Prisoners Still Locked Up

President Obama commuted the 35-year prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the military intelligence analyst who made public evidence of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, allowing Manning to go free on May 17, after completing over seven years in prison: here.

Following Chelsea Manning’s commutation, @Alfreddezayas urges pardons for other whistleblowers: here.

13 thoughts on “Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera will be freed

  1. Thursday 19th january 2017

    posted by James Tweedie in Britain

    Obama cuts independence leader’s jail term

    LATIN Americans celebrated the impending freedom of Oscar Lopez on Tuesday after it was announced that the Puerto Rican independence leader, who has served more than three decades behind bars, is to be released this year.

    Mr Lopez is set to walk free from a US jail on May 17 after outgoing US President Barack Obama commuted his 55-year sentence to the 36 years he has already served.

    Puerto Ricans celebrated in the streets of the Spanishspeaking US island territory.

    Some wept with joy upon hearing the news while others headed to all-night parties announced on social media. Mr Lopez’s freedom was announced along with that of US military whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

    The 74-year-old’s lawyer Jan Susler said: “He’s very, very grateful. One of the things he said was: ‘Tomorrow’s my daughter’s birthday.

    What an amazing present for her’.” Mr Lopez was convicted in 1981 on one count of “seditious conspiracy” for supposedly plotting against the US, and he was later convicted of conspiring to escape from Leavenworth prison in Kansas.

    He was part of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), which the US accuses of carrying out more than 120 bomb attacks in cities across the states in the 1970s and ’80s. The prisoner has repeatedly denied involvement in these attacks.

    Mr Lopez rejected a 1999 clemency offer from then-president Bill Clinton as it excluded two of his comrades, who have since been released.

    “He wants to live in Puerto Rico, and people there really want him to come home,” Ms Susler said.

    Puerto Rico, which lies between the Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands, lacks the status of a state and cannot elect voting members to Congress.

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro thanked Mr Obama for the freedom of his “Puerto Rican brother.

    “This news makes me tremble, it really gladdens me,” he said, even though “we are critics of President Obama, we have had harsh words with him.

    “We have to give thanks to the social movements of the world that we have come together and united in demand for what Obama conceded today — freedom for our Puerto Rican brother Oscar Lopez Rivera.”

    High-profile figures who campaigned for the liberation leader’s release include former US president Jimmy Carter, Pope Francis and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.



  2. Thursday 26th January 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    PAUL DOBSON writes on the life, struggle and release of Oscar Lopez Rivera, the Puerto Rican freedom fighter and longest-ever held political prisoner anywhere in the world

    FORMER president Barack Obama has liberated some high-profile inmates of the US prison system, including the Cuban Five and Chelsea Manning. However, in the same decree as Manning there was another man promised his long-due freedom who didn’t make quite so many headlines.

    He is one of the most important modern-day anti-colonial fighters, a flag bearer of the struggle of an entire continent and a man who has been described as “Latin America’s Mandela.”

    Little is known in the west of Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera, but for Latin American patriots, anti-imperialists and those who today are constructing another, better world, he is a household name.

    His 36-year imprisonment in the US for his role in the struggle to overthrow their colonial rule in the small Caribbean island holds symbolic importance for all Latin Americans. It is a relic of an outdated, exploitative relationship between the US and their “backyard” which is being thrown out to the dustbin of history.

    As the longest standing political prisoner in the world, millions have called for his release including 10 Nobel Peace Prize winners; US politicians such as Jimmy Carter and Bernie Sanders; musicians such as Grammy winners Calle 13, Andy Montanez, Chucho Avellanet and Ricky Martin; film producer Jacobo Morales; novelists; journalists; Major League Baseball players; Archbishop Desmond Tutu and even Pope Francis.

    Rivera was imprisoned in 1981 for 55 years (which was later extended to 70) but is due to be released on May 17 after Obama commuted his sentence.

    His crime? “Seditious conspiracy” and belonging to the Puerto Rican National Liberation Armed Forces (FALN), dedicated to fighting for the self-determination of Puerto Rican people and against one of the longest standing colonial rules.

    Puerto Rico has been a US colony since 1898, when, following a failed attempt to buy the island off the Spanish, it was ceded it the US along with Guam and the Philippines as part of the culmination of the US-Spanish War. Spain’s sovereign interests over Cuba were also relinquished in this agreement.

    Despite reforms giving Puerto Ricans the right to natural US citizenship (1917) and to elect their own Governor (1947), Puerto Rico continued to be part of the US.

    The economic, political, and social impact of colonial rule on Puerto Rico has been devastating. Atrocities such as the 1948 Gag law which outlawed all national symbols, songs, and culture; the Jayuya uprising and Utuado massacre in the 1950s; severe economic exploitation and a dual-society for Spanish speaking dark skinned Latinos and white US invaders paved the way for some Puerto Ricans to choose the path of armed insurrection in their efforts to shake off the shackles of repression. A 2012 consultative vote showed 54 per cent support for a change in status.

    Under these material conditions the FALN, a Marxist-Leninist underground vanguard organisation which used direct action both in Puerto Rico and on US soil, was born in 1974.

    As soldiers in an anti-colonial struggle, those captured, including Rivera, invoked the Geneva Agreement and declared themselves to be prisoners of war. Such appeals fell on deaf ears.

    Ironically, Rivera, who moved to Chicago at a young age and was influential in standing up for the large and hyper-exploited Latino working-class community, was drafted to defend America’s imperialist interests in Vietnam, where he won a Bronze award for heroic service. His experience of US colonial barbarism in Vietnam only deepened the anti-colonial sentiment which ran through his blood.

    Rivera’s commutation is a hugely symbolic victory for the peoples of Latin America. Unsurprisingly, leaders such as Hugo Chavez, Nicolas Maduro, Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega had been some of the most vocal in pressing for Rivera’s release.

    Since Jose Marti’s proclamation to fight for Puerto Rican independence at the foundation of Cuba’s Revolutionary Party in 1892, Cuba’s and Puerto Rico’s paths have been entwined ever since.

    Revolutionary Cuba has pressed for Puerto Rican independence in the UN Decolonisation Committee with 38 resolutions passed since 1970, with the most recent of these (2012) calling on the US government to release all political prisoners. It was blatantly ignored.

    Venezuela has also championed Rivera’s case on numerous occasions, with Maduro saying: “his only crime was to want the independence of Puerto Rico […] to defend the beautiful banner of Puerto Rico with its unitary star of dignity.”

    Following Obama’s announcement, prisoner 87651-04’s daughter, Clarisa Lopez Ramos, told reporters: “My father told me how grateful he was to — and was very emphatic that I manifest it publicly — all the Puerto Rican people, the Latin American people, and especially to Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.”

    “Whatever time I have left in this world I dedicate to work and fight to help solve the biggest problem we face: the colonial status of Puerto Rico” pronounced Rivera on his 74th birthday just before Obama’s decree.

    “If we dare to live and if we dare to fight, we can eradicate colonialism and transform our beloved homeland into the Edenic garden it has the potential to be and live as free people without colonial chains.”

    Questions remain for Rivera with the handover of power to Donald Trump. Sources inside the Republican Party were quick to express horror at Obama’s decision and in some ways Rivera represents everything that Trump has attacked.

    Why did Obama wait so long to commute his sentence? Will Trump reverse the order? These are questions that only time will answer.

    But what is certain is that until Rivera is back in the arms of his family and comrades, nothing can be taken for granted and until Puerto Rico is a free, independent nation, the cancer of colonialism persists on the doorstep of the most powerful nation on Earth.



  3. Saturday 11th February 2017

    posted by Morning Star in World

    PUERTO RICAN independence leader Oscar Lopez Rivera returned home on Thursday after over 35 years in a US jail ahead of his impending freedom in a few months time.

    Mr Lopez flew into the island’s capital San Juan from the Terra Haute prison in Indiana, escorted by Mayor Carmen Yulin and US congressman Luis Gutierrez, who helped secure his transfer.

    The independence leader was escorted to his daughter’s apartment, where he will serve the rest of his sentence, ending on May 17, under house arrest.

    The transfer came after former US president Barack Obama commuted Mr Lopez’s 55-year sentence last month.

    His arrival was kept secret until just hours before his plane touched down, angering supporters who wanted to give him a hero’s welcome.

    Mr Lopez was a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation, which claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings in the US in a campiagn for independence for the Caribbean island.



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  7. PUERTO RICO: Independence leader Oscar Lopez visited Cuba for the first time yesterday, following 35 years in a US jail.

    The National Liberation Armed Forces (FALN) leader thanked the Cuban people for there support during his imprisonment, which ended earlier this year.

    “I would have liked to have met and talked to Fidel” Castro, he said. “Fidel was a man with a vision, contrary to those who only seek money for themselves.”



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