[Pnews] Oscar López Rivera to Puerto Ricans: ‘Refuse to pay the debt!’

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 25 11:47:28 EST 2016


  Oscar López Rivera to Puerto Ricans: ‘Refuse to pay the debt!’

/The following is a letter written by Puerto Rican political prisoner 
Oscar López Rivera, who has been in a U.S. prison since 1981. It was 
read by his daughter Clarisa on his birthday, Jan. 6, and published in 
Spanish on Jan. 11. (Original: tinyurl.com/z3q9ox5)/

During the last visit with my beautiful daughter, she said that I was 
becoming totally bald. But that’s a loss I can endure. She did not 
mention the wrinkles that have accumulated, the slowness in my hands, 
the loss of balance in my body that is becoming increasingly worse, the 
lack of elasticity in my body, the cramps I feel throughout the day and 
during every season of the year, the gastric reflux, the loss of teeth 
and even the slowness in my thought processes — the list goes on. At my 
age, the pack of worries grows constantly heavier, bigger and continues 
to grow. And I can state without a trace of doubt that the calendar is a 

But I can still get up before 4 a.m. and start my day with a good 
exercise routine, thanking life for all the good things it has given me, 
especially for all the good people who have become part of my life 
because they love freedom and justice and want a better and fairer world 
like I do. And 16 hours later I can lay my old body down to relax, 
listen to some music and news, and again thank life for all that it has 
given me.

In my pack of worries, there are two very big concerns that have been 
added: the debt crisis in Puerto Rico and that my granddaughter Karina 
has to incur a huge debt to gain entry into a dental school. I have to 
admit that for the last one, I have no way of doing anything to help 
her. Student debt in this country is more than $3 trillion and growing. 
It is painful to see my granddaughter Karina adding her name to the list 
of student debtors.

*The snares of student debt*

Today, students from working-class families have fewer and fewer 
opportunities to enter graduate schools. And with an enormous debt, the 
opportunities are fewer. And if you’re in the fields of medicine, 
engineering and other well-paid professions, the chances are even lower. 
It’s not because students aren’t smart enough or because they aren’t 
academically prepared, but because of the cost and the system that’s 
been created to entrap them in the snares of student loan debt.

How can a student of a working-class family come up with $68,000 a year 
for four years just for education? By the time my dear granddaughter 
graduates from dental school, she may have a debt of almost half a 
million dollars. So she will begin her career in the red and stay in the 
red for many years.

Who talks about that system? Who denies life to a student who has worked 
hard to get into a dental school, only because she was not born into a 
family with money and influence?

This is the age of debts. The system runs on debts. But nothing is said 
to the public about debt entrapment being part of the system. The only 
time we’ve heard about the debt trap is when a nation can’t afford to 
pay up. Puerto Ricans know now what the debt trap does to the working 
class. Puerto Rico has an unpayable debt, and the Governor has informed 
them that it cannot be paid.

Decades of corrupt politicians piling on debt has impoverished Puerto 
Rico and has forced many young people with good professions to migrate, 
causing a massive brain drain. In addition, it makes Puerto Rico 
privatize some of the best public corporations that provide good jobs 
and help to boost the economy. The unpayable debt was created by the 
vultures of Wall Street, the neoliberal Washington politicians, and the 
corrupt politicians in Puerto Rico. They are the ones who should be 
paying off the debt. I can see my beautiful granddaughter ten years from 
now, still paying to the creators of the debt, her debt for wanting to 
be a good dentist. And she is not the only young Puerto Rican going 
through this same ordeal.

*Let those who made the deals pay the debt*

In order to deal with the debt, I will start with a suggestion about 
what we must do and can do. My first suggestion is that all we Puerto 
Ricans get organized and take just one position: Refuse the debt payment 
and start a debt boycott. To begin with, we can start chanting: “That’s 
a debt I will not pay, those who borrowed it must pay.” (“Esa deuda no 
la pago yo, que la pague el que la incurrió.”) Let us call for a boycott 
and start organizing. The debt crisis is a problem that affects all 
Puerto Ricans, and each and every one of us must take a stand and refuse 
to pay for it. In every city and in the Diaspora, every Puerto Rican 
must say that we cannot pay the debt and therefore we refuse to pay it.

Every child, youth and adult, including the elderly, must be part of 
this massive boycott in Puerto Rico. And every Puerto Rican should ask 
for compensation for all the pain, exploitation, repression, persecution 
and destruction we have experienced since 1898, after the United States 
invaded and occupied and militarized Puerto Rico. We can accept no 
austerity plan, not even one imposed on us.

We are poor, but we are hard workers and have every right to say no to 
the impositions that Wall Street and Washington will try to put on us. 
Every Puerto Rican who cares about the future of Puerto Rico and wants a 
better and fairer world must say NO to the payment of the debt. And 
every Puerto Rican who aspires to political office must agree to be part 
of the boycott. And every pro-independence militant must do everything 
he or she can possibly do to create unity among them in the struggle for 

On another note, several compañeros and friends have asked me how I feel 
about having the name of Ana Belén Montes linked with mine in the 
campaign for my release. For me it would be a great honor. I think that 
every Puerto Rican who loves justice and freedom should be proud of Ana 
Belén. What she did was more than heroic. She did what any person would 
have done who believes in peace, justice and freedom and the right of 
every nation to govern itself in the best possible way and without 
intervention or threat from anyone. She did what she did because she 
knew that the U.S. government intended to destroy the Cuban government 
and impose a system designed by Washington on the Cuban people with 
another regime-change. The objectives of the U.S. government were 
criminal, and if she had not acted as she did, she would have wound up 
supporting those acts. Let’s all be proud of her, support her and demand 
her release from prison.

This Jan. 6, I cannot be with you physically, but even from within these 
walls I can help. Let’s make 2016 the year that we Puerto Ricans rise up 
together in order to put an end to colonialism. We can do it. No matter 
if the person has been a red PPD, a blue PNP, a green and white PIP or a 
red Socialist, if we are an authentic Puerto Rican, we love freedom and 
justice and we want to be treated with respect as human beings, we will 
unite and stand up together.

Enjoy the moment and feel inspired by the beautiful example that 
Compañero Juan Santiago left for us to emulate. Let’s dare to fight and 
to win.

Hugs and much love to all.

In resistance and struggle,

Oscar López Rivera

/Letter read at the activity for his birthday on Jan. 6. Translation: 
Workers World-Mundo Obrero staff./


 1. /Ana Belén Montes is a Puerto Rican woman who worked in the U.S.
    Defense Intelligence Agency, and is now isolated in a Texas prison
    for defending the people of Cuba./
 2. /PPD is the Democratic Popular Party, the current administration
    which defends the colonial position of Puerto Rico as a “Free
    Associated State.”/
 3. /PNP is the New Progressive Party, pro statehood./
 4. /PIP is the Puerto Rican Independence Party./
 5. /Juan Santiago is a people’s lawyer who defended independence
    activists and died in June 2012./

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