[Pnews] Puerto Rico's Oscar Lopez Freed After 36 Years in US Prison

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed May 17 10:54:27 EDT 2017


  Puerto Rico's Oscar Lopez Freed After 36 Years in US Prison

May 17, 2017

Puerto Rican independence leader Oscar Lopez Rivera was released 
Wednesday from house arrest in Puerto Rico after former U.S. President 
Barack Obama commuted his sentence in January, days before Donald Trump 
was inaugurated.

"I thank the whole world, and I ask for love for the whole world," Lopez 
said to media in his first words once he was freed, adding that now that 
he has returned to the island, he will continue his fight for 
independence and reach out to Puerto Ricans to hear about their needs.

"I like to listen," Lopez said. "I want to visit each municipality, 
listen and see what we can do."

Lopez also spoke out about the massive cuts targeting the island's main 
public post-secondary education institution, the University of Puerto 
Rico, which has seen funding slashed as part of a harsh austerity plan 
to tackle the Puerto Rico's crippling debt, sparking widespread protests.

"The University of Puerto Rico has to exist, it has to continue to get 
better. To students, they need to fight, " Lopez said.  "We will never 
resign and will always push forward. We can. We are a beautiful people 
and I think we can come together."

In early February, Lopez Rivera was transferred 
the Terre Haute penitentiary in Indiana, where the leading activist 
spent about two-thirds of his more than 30-year prison term, to his 
daughter's home in Puerto Rico.

His electronic bracelet was removed one day before his official release. 
Various artists are expected to perform at a party organized to 
celebrate his freedom on the island.

The independence leader will finally meet with his old comrades and 
plans to travel to Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, among other countries, 
in order to thank those who supported his release, said his lawyer to 
the media.

Lopez Rivera was born in Puerto Rico in 1943 and later moved to the 
United States. After being drafted to serve in the Vietnam War and 
returning to Chicago, Lopez Rivera joined the struggle for Puerto Rican 
rights. In 1976, he joined the fight for Puerto Rican independence from 
U.S. colonial rule as a member of the Armed Forces of National 
Liberation, also known as FALN.

He was arrested in 1981 and charged with “seditious conspiracy” for his 
role in a variety of FALN activities.

During his trial, Lopez Rivera and other FALN activists told the court 
their actions were part of an anti-colonial war against the U.S., 
declaring themselves prisoners of war and requesting that their cases be 
handed over to an international court. That request was denied, and 
Lopez Rivera was eventually sentenced to 55 years in prison — a sentence 
almost 20 times longer than those handed down for similar offenses.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton offered Lopez Rivera a pardon in 
1999, but the independence activist rejected it in an act of solidarity 
with other Puerto Rican activists who had not been offered clemency and 
because he refused to publicly renounce the right of colonized peoples 
to resist through armed struggle.

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