[Ppnews] Response to Daily News attack on Oscar López Rivera

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Feb 1 10:42:25 EST 2012

A Response to the New York Daily News
Perpetuating False Charges on the 1975 Fraunces Tavern Bombing

By Jan Susler (January 26, 2012)

Oscar López Rivera, a 69-year-old decorated 
Vietnam veteran, has spent 31 years in U.S. 
prison for his commitment to the independence of 
Puerto Rico. He has the dubious distinction of 
being the longest held pro-independence prisoner 
in Puerto Rico's history of seeking 
self-determination - and thousands preceded him. 
Convicted of seditious conspiracy in Chicago, he 
is serving a sentence of 70 years, although he 
was not convicted of harming or killing anyone.

If you read the New York Daily News article 
published this year on January 24th, on the 37th 
anniversary of the bombing of Fraunces Tavern, 
you wouldn't know this . . . and you would be 
left with the impression that López Rivera should 
remain in prison because he is somehow 
responsible for that tragic action. That is, 
sadly, what the FBI has led the victims to 
believe, and it is most certainly the weapon 
wielded by the FBI in its unceasing efforts to 
convince the public, the U.S. Parole Commission, 
and the President, that López Rivera should remain in prison.

López Rivera has denied participation in the 1975 
tragedy at Fraunces Tavern. There is no evidence 
to connect him to it. If the FBI had such 
evidence, it would surely prosecute him - but in 
the 37 years since, it has not. Instead, it has 
waged a campaign of guilt by association, using 
its bully pulpit to prolong his imprisonment, and 
thereby punish him for his commitment to the independence of Puerto Rico.

In fact, during his 1981 trial for seditious 
conspiracy, López Rivera presented no defense in 
court. Prosecutors risked little, if anything, in 
charging him on this case. They did not charge 
him - again, because there simply is not a shred 
of evidence that could even remotely link him to 
the Fraunces Tavern event. The New York Daily 
News has done its readers - and more importantly, 
truth and justice - a great disservice by 
implying there is somehow some kind of link 
between López Rivera and this case, a link that 
somehow has mysteriously eluded prosecutors, the 
courts and the FBI for more than 31 years.

A campaign for the release of López Rivera and 
his co-defendants, which enjoyed broad support 
throughout Puerto Rican civil society and among 
the international human rights and faith 
community, resulted in President Clinton's 1999 
offer to commute the sentences of most of them. 
Most were offered immediate release, but López 
Rivera would have to serve an additional 10 years 
behind bars. The others accepted the president's 
offer, were welcomed as returning heroes in 
Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican communities in the 
U.S., and for the past 12 years have lived 
productive, law-abiding lives. Out of concern 
that the President's offer did not include all 
those in prison for their commitment to 
independence , López Rivera rejected the offer. 
Had he accepted, he would have been released in 
September of 2009. Those excluded from the 
president's offer have since been released - 
López Rivera is now the only one still in prison 
from the Chicago seditious conspiracy cases of the 1980s.

That campaign continues to advocate for López 
Rivera's release from prison. Recent activities 
in Puerto Rico include mass demonstrations during 
President Obama's June visit to the Island, 
calling for his release - and elected officials 
personally asking the President to release him - 
; on the occasion of López Rivera's 69th 
birthday, the Catholic Archbishop presiding over 
a mass, and a gathering of representatives from 
every sector of civil society calling for his 
release; and students painting murals featuring 
his face and the message "Freedom Now!" for López Rivera.

In the proud United States tradition of 
exercising the constitutional power of pardon, 
three U.S. Presidents have commuted the sentences 
of Puerto Rican political prisoners: President 
Truman in 1952, President Carter in 1979, and 
President Clinton in 1999. President Obama should 
not be fooled by the FBI's campaign of untruths.

For more information about the campaign for Oscar 
Lopez Rivera's release, contact the National 
Boricua Human Rights Network at 

Jan Susler, a partner at the People's Law Office 
in Chicago and member of the National Lawyers 
Guild, has been working as attorney for the 
Puerto Rican political prisoners for the past 30 
years, and was lead counsel in the campaign 
leading to the 1999 presidential commutation. She 
continues to work with those who remain in 
prison. She can be reached at 773-235-0070 x 118 
and <mailto:jsusler at aol.com>jsusler at aol.com.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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