[Ppnews] Oscar Lopez Rivera statement to the American Studies Association in Puerto Rico

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Nov 22 13:46:15 EST 2012

The American Studies Association, a progressive educational 
organization,  met last weekend in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Panels 
included the participation of former Puerto Rican political prisoners 
Rafael Cancel Miranda, Elizam Escobar, Lucy Rodriguez, and Luis Rosa. 
Following is a statement written to the conference by Oscar Lopez Rivera:

For the American Studies Association conference

October 29, 2012

The U.S. government categorically denies it has political prisoners in 
its gulags. It does it primarily to cover up the nefarious, barbaric and 
even criminal acts and practices it carries out against us and other 
regular prisoners, and to do it with impunity. It uses the denial as its 
license to violate our most basic human rights by subjecting us to 
isolation and sensory deprivation regimens that are nothing less than 
cruel and unusual punishment. It uses it to hoodwink its own citizens to 
believe that it doesn't criminalize dissenters or opponents of its wars 
and other imperialistic practices. It does it to perpetuate the lie that 
it's the ultimate defender of freedom, justice, democracy and human 
rights in the world. And it uses it at times to further criminalize the 
political prisoners and/or our families and to disconnect us from our 
families, communities, supporters and the just and noble causes we 
served and try to continue serving.

During the many years I've been in the gulags, I've met and shared 
ideas, time and space with different political prisoners who struggle 
for just and noble causes like the one I've chosen to serve. Some were 
with me at USP Leavenworth, where we were labeled "notorious and 
incorrigible criminals" and targeted by the FBI, jailers and 
informants/provocateurs in their attempts to criminalize us further. In 
my case the same evil forces even used my medical condition as fodder 
for the escape conspiracy plot they hatched that added fifteen more 
years to my sentence.

There were political prisoners with me at USP Marion, where we were 
subjected to isolation and sensory deprivation regimens, and labeled 
"predators, the worst of the worst," and even "animals" by Dr. Urban, 
the head of the psychology department of USP Marion. Amnesty 
International went as far as defining the barbaric conditions in that 
gulag as a "legal crime." Sensory deprivation and isolation regimens 
cause a plethora of mental illness/problems, including PTSD (Post 
Traumatic Stress Disorder) --- the same mental disorder war veterans suffer.

And there were political prisoners with me in the gulag known as ADX 
Florence. There some of us were subjected to a sleep deprivation regimen 
that was pure and simple torture. I experienced it for 58 days and my 
sleeping patterns were so badly damaged that I still have serious 
problems sleeping. In these two gulags political prisoners were also the 
targets of constant harassment such as cell searches, confiscation of 
reading and art materials and placement in hot cells where there was 
contraband in order to issue us infractions, send us to the hole, and 
force us to start the "step-down" program all over again.

Since I have been in the gulags all of my communication has been 
intercepted and monitored, including my legal mail. My family has been 
persecuted and criminalized. Three days after I was sentenced my brother 
José was fired from his job at Northeastern Illinois University, and 
before that sent to prison for 11 months for refusing to testify before 
a grand jury. My mother, at age 70, was made my co-conspirator. Anyone 
who knew my mother knows she would rather have died than to engage in 
any criminal activity. The FBI has even tried to destroy good community 
programs that at one point and time I was associated with. The last 14 
years I have spent in this gulag, Terre Haute. And the harassment has 
not stopped. Several times my art materials have been confiscated or 
lost, art work destroyed, family visits stopped, and I still have to 
report to the jailers every two hours. In those 14 years, in spite of 
all the provocations and harassment, the jailers haven't been able to 
accuse me of committing any infractions. But that doesn't stop them from 
doing what they've been doing to me for the past 31 years. And I'm 
fairly certain the other political prisoners continue experiencing the 
same treatment and conditions.

It could be argued that government's denial of our existence has worked. 
But our wills and spirits are strong enough to continue resisting and 

En resistencia y lucha [in resistance and struggle],

Oscar López Rivera

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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