On November 10th & 11th the Latin@ Coalition, a group of Latino student organizations from different Universities around Chicago that work together, toured a film series, along with guest speaker Dr. Hugo Velazquez, across three different Universities in Chicago, Columbia College, UIC, and DePaul. The event, titled “3 Centuries of Political Prisoners” screened three films, the first “María Mercedes Barbudo: The Road of No Return” is about María Mercedes Barbudo the first Puerto Rican independentista who fought against colonialism in Puerto Rico. The second film “The Nationalists” is about the four Puerto Rican Nationalists that in 1954 went into the House of Representatives and fired at the ceiling in order to gain attention to the colonial status of Puerto Rico, all four spent more than 20 years in prison. The final film is a short student documentary “for those who struggle. . .” about Oscar López Rivera a Puerto Rican political prisoner that is currently serving his 31st year in prison for seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government in Puerto Rico by force.
The series was an eye opener for the majority of the students present at the events, unaware that the United States has political prisoners. After the film series, Dr. Hugo Velazquez from Guadalajara University in Mexico spoke about Mexican Political Prisoners, and the Detained/Disappeared, elaborating that there are currently 1,300 current Political Prisoners in Mexico and that many people have disappeared (their whereabouts are unknown to their families and the authorities) amidst the “Dirty War”. Dr.Velazquez has written several books on the topic. At the end of the event, a panel and open Q&A was held consisting of Dr. Velazquez, Alejandro Luis Molina (representative from National Boricua Human Rights Network), Ricardo Jimenez (former Puerto Rican Political Prisoner of 20 years), and Jan Susler (lawyer of Oscar López Rivera). Thanks to the Latin@ Coalition for organizing such an event that was able to educate curious students on a topic that normally is untouched and unknown.
November 17th, 2011