[Ppnews] After 30 Years in Prison, Carlos Alberto Torres Will Be Freed

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jul 26 10:27:35 EDT 2010


http://www.counterpunch.org/cohn07262010.html
July 26, 2010


After 30 Years in Prison, the Puerto Rican Political Prison Will Be Freed


The Incarceration of Carlos Alberto Torres

By MARJORIE COHN

Today, Puerto Rican political prisoner Carlos 
Alberto Torres will walk out of prison after 30 
years behind bars. He was convicted of seditious 
conspiracy - conspiring to use force against the 
lawful authority of the United States over Puerto 
Rico. Torres was punished for being a member of 
an armed clandestine organization called the FALN 
(Armed Forces of National Liberation), which had 
taken responsibility for bombings that resulted 
in no deaths or injuries. He was not accused of 
taking part in these bombings, only of being a member of the FALN.

In 1898, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United 
States by Spain as war bounty in the treaty that 
ended the Spanish-American War. Nevertheless, the 
U.S. invaded Puerto Rico and has occupied it ever 
since. Puerto Ricans have always resisted foreign 
occupation of their land and called for independence.

The Puerto Rican independence movement enjoys 
wide support internationally. Every year for 29 
years the United Nations Decolonization Committee 
has passed a resolution calling for independence. 
There have been similar declarations of the 
Non-Aligned Movement, and recent submissions to 
the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review.

All of these expressions call on the U.S. 
government to release Puerto Rican political 
prisoners who have served 30 and 29 years of 
their disproportionately long 70 year sentences 
in U.S. prisons for cases related to the struggle 
for Puerto Rican independence. They include 
Torres (who was sentenced to 30 years) and Oscar 
López Rivera (sentenced to 29 years), as well as 
Avelino González Claudio, who was recently 
sentenced to seven years. None of these men was 
convicted for harming anyone or taking a life.

Torres’ attorney, National Lawyers Guild member 
Jan Susler of Chicago, notes, “Carlos is being 
released from prison due to the unflagging 
support of the Puerto Rican independence movement 
and others who work for human rights. The more 
than 10,000 letters of support from the U.S., 
Puerto Rico, Mexico and other countries sent a 
strong message to the Parole Commission.”

Supporters from all over the United States will 
flock to the welcoming celebration in Chicago, 
which will take place in the heart of the Puerto 
Rican community. Tomorrow, Torres, his family and 
attorney will fly to Puerto Rico, where thousands 
will greet him with a concert of the nation’s finest musicians and artists.

Yet there is a damper on the celebration, as 
Torres leaves behind his compatriot Oscar López, 
a 67 year old decorated Viet Nam veteran. López 
did not accept the terms of President Clinton’s 
1999 clemency offer, which would have required 
him to serve an additional 10 years in prison 
with good conduct. Though he declined the offer, 
López has now served the additional 10 years in 
prison with good conduct. Had he accepted the 
deal, he would have been released last September. 
Those who did accept are living successful lives, 
fully integrated into civil society. There is no 
reason to treat him differently.

While we celebrate this remarkable day in the 
life of Torres and the movement for Puerto Rican 
independence, let us commit ourselves to continue 
to struggle until Oscar López Rivera and Avelino 
González Claudio, as well as all political 
prisoners in U.S. prisons, also walk free.

Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson 
School of Law, is immediate past president of the 
National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general 
of the International Association of Democratic 
Lawyers, and the U.S. representative to the 
executive council of the American Association of Jurists.




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