A Summary of Work and Projected Plans
During the Valentine’s day celebration, more than 60 people attended the second national meeting sponsored by the NYC May 30th coalition. Bad weather all day long-cold and snowing day in NY did not stop the activists from traveling near and far. The meeting was held at Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College on Saturday, February 14th, 2015 in the Bronx, NY. The image of “Oscar en la Calle” was placed at the entrance of the building to greet arrivals. This festive day of friendship and love was dedicated to our compatriot Oscar López Rivera.
The meeting was facilitated by Ana M. López and Alejandro Molina. Representatives from ten different towns attended and three cities attended via “google hangout”, in spite of technical issues that prevented four additional cities from viewing the meeting, Oscar’s family members were present: José E. López (brother) and Lourdes Lugo (niece) traveled from Chicago and Javier Nieves from Brooklyn, NY came to meet with the region’s activists fighting for Oscar’s release. These activists are educators, students, composers, union leaders, religious leaders, workers, community leaders, and some retired working folks.
The meeting began with a general discussion of “Where are we in the campaign for the release of Oscar? José E. López gave an analysis of the historical juncture of the campaign for Oscar’s release. There was a video viewing of Ruben Berrios’ speech in CELAC. José explained that a number of important events that have occurred in recent months gives a good indication of a change enthroned in US policy and the development of a strong and united Latin America. José called the speech that Ruben Berrios, of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, gave at the CELAC Summit held in Costa Rica was very significant and a “turning point”. Who gave Ruben Berrios the opportunity to address the representatives of states in CELAC? Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega- a Sandinista. This is historic. He spoke of the reoccurrence of history. There was a meeting of the Sandinistas and Puerto Ricans in New York in the 1930s, with Don Pedro Albizu Campos, Juan Antonio Corretjer and Sandino himself. Ruben Berrios stated that as long as Puerto Rico is a Latin American country and continues as a colony of the United States, “Latin America has to rescue her.” The main attraction at the Summit was the clamor for Oscar’s release. Puerto Rico is placed on the list almost as if it has acquired independence status. The strong argument of President Nicolas Maduro for the release of Oscar has received global attention. The second event of historical importance was a pronouncement by President Obama to end the “embargo” against Cuba and the release of Cuban political prisoners. The implication of this event is the end of the cold war against Cuba. It opens the way for the case of Oscar and Puerto Rico.
There is “a small window of opportunity” in the next eight months and so the campaign has intensified its work in the diaspora to release Oscar, explained Prof. Ana M. López, co-coordinator of the meeting. The mobilization of May 30th, 2015 in New York demonstrates the urgency of the moment, uniting all efforts to release Oscar. The entire East Coast has to mobilize for May 30th, 2015.
The campaign discussed best practices and commitment to activities that have borne fruit to advance Oscar’s release. The activities like the “33MujeresNYC X Oscar”, ” 33 Pueblos para Oscar” and “Oscar on the street” have been activities that have created the “visibility” of Oscar. Also, the production of several songs dedicated to Oscar have been contributed. At the meeting we were honored to have Yova Rodríguez present. Yovo is the composer of the song “Freedom for Oscar”, which was performed by Danny Rivera and another song, “A Oscar López Rivera”, composed by Armando Pacheco with a son montuno and played by Sonera Ponceña. Several artists have contributed to the campaign. Jesus Mangual is working on a wooden bust of Oscar, Miguel Luciano has reached out to other artists, Calle 13’s Rene Pérez has made a commitment to record a PSA (public service announcements) for the May 30th march. Other prominent East Coasters are being reached out to as well.
We opened the discussion to the membership, where each presented the work they were doing and their commitment to activities May 29th and 30th, 2015. Each city submitted a written report. These are some of activities planned and mentioned by cities:
- Philadelphia shared that six churches did six masses for Oscar
- Have raised the funds for three buses and will have five buses reserved for the march on May 30th;
- New chapter of National Boricua Human Rights Network has emerged in Pittsburgh under the leadership of Esmirna Matos. The newspaper “La Jornada” of Pittsburgh published the article “Boricua Activists Launch Campaign for the release of Oscar”. The chapter have organized unions to join in and are organizing an event at a law school;
- Chicago is doing the petition drive in the community and discussed methods to engage people in learning about Oscar;
- San Francisco, California Chapter will have activities for the May 29th and El Grito de Lares
- NYC will focus on four areas: unions, churches, CUNY students and community organizations for mass mobilization;
- NYC created coalition of May 30th (33 organizations) for mobilization. five sub-committees, media and press, outreach, finance and fundraising, programming-logistics were developed. Hostos- professors have offered to organize 33 professors for Oscar; continue collecting petitions from students, making presentations in classes with other students of the clubs; Maintain a permanent Oscar display in the main “lobby” of the entrance; proposed the passage of a resolution at Senate level of university students; and proposing a resolution of the professor’s union; Promote the 33 churches for Oscar in NYC; Promote 33 cities for Oscar in the region that already has 18 cities, continue the 33Mujeres X Oscar every month;
- Cleveland, Ohio mass in the church and mobilization for May 30th, 2015;
- Brooklyn, NY agreed to a general diffusion to groups and people we have working relationships with and that we believe can help mobilize sectors not otherwise be so involved. We will contact the Tenants Organization Crown Heights; Several groups of anarchists and anarchist Black Cross; Brooklyn community Palestine Solidarity and SDE; Immigration rights workers and Diana Crowder NJ; May First Coalition; and roses and collective women. With regard to the mobilization of the community WBAI listeners, producers and activists, and use that connection in the air around and before the march itself.
In addition, we discussed fund-raising activities, and our plans for a concert in March / joint event with Grammy winner Villalobos Brothers.
- Detroit NBHRN has been participating in the sub committee of media and promotional campaign.
The meeting was interactive and engaging. There were video interventions for visual effects and all were received with applause. A even greater surprise and pleasure was evident when our beloved comrade Oscar López Rivera called and was able to greet those present, some of whom had never spoken to Oscar before.
During the finance report, Jose Candelario addressed budget items (also written and distributed) to cover the cost of mobilization and asked for pledges and sponsorships. Within half an hour, we collected pledges totaling $7,200.
Our allies in Resistance in Brooklyn met to discuss outreach and related responsibilities. We agreed to general outreach to targeted groups and individuals with whom we have had working relationships.
What reigned at this meeting of a humanitarian cause for the release of Oscar was unity, human sharing, democratic participation, commitment, and transparency. Because of the bad weather, we had to adjourn the meeting at 2:45 pm. The 3rd National Meeting to Free Oscar will be held on April 25th, 2015 at Hostos, 450 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY.