by Ana M. López, NYC Coordinator to Free Oscar López
Be like a “pebble in the shoe” and “business is not as usual” were the comments heard and what described the intensity of our discussion in the 3rd National Meeting to Free Oscar López Rivera on January 30th, 2016. “Extreme urgency” is the call to secure Oscar’s release this year and the development of a strategy for the next 11 months. After postponing the national meeting the week before due to the 30 inch snow blizzard that struck the East coast, we regrouped and a good number of persons attended this meeting held in the heart of the South Bronx. There was representation of 10 cities from East to West coasts and Midwest and East coast. We had a long agenda and fruitful discussion and brainstorming session about what we needed to do to “Bring Oscar López Rivera Home, at last!
At the National meeting we stared with a general discussion and an overview of the great accomplishments of the campaign to free Oscar, thus far. The narrative on Oscar from being completely an isolated issue and “invisible” to a popular one (hero, nationalist leader, independence fighter, political prisoner, etc.) not only in Puerto Rico, Latin American and international arenas, but reaching USA mainstream. The year 2015 accomplished the changing of the narrative on Oscar Lopez Rivera in New York City and neutralizing the right wing forces. This was accomplished against all odds and propelled the visibility of his release on a humanitarian level bringing together on many fronts: labor, faith community, student populations, community organizations and elected officials (as never before) with unity “One Voice for Oscar”.
The campaign to free Oscar has expanded to other areas and has been amplified at a grass root level in all Puerto Rican and Latino communities. It has taken stronghold in New Jersey, parts of Massachusetts and big time in Florida.
We discussed the importance of the next 11 months in augmenting work and political pressure. What do we need to do to bring Oscar home?
The work areas to be expanded to Free Oscar:
* 34 womenX Oscar exist already in Puerto Rico, New York City, Chicago and Boston. Expand the 34 women vigils to other cities like Newark, Philadelphia, Connecticut and Florida.we have verbal commitment from Newark and Philadelphia.
* International Day of Solidarity with Oscar and Puerto Rico- mass mobilization in New York for June 20th, 2016 during Decolonization Committee hearings on Puerto Rico in the United Nations; all cities will mobilize contingents to NYC; and 35 countries around the world. New York will be responsible for organizing mobilization,
Summary of Agreements reached:
* Do last petition drive and collect all from February to June, 2016 (goal 100,000 petitions -already have 50,000). Submit petition to the White House with a delegation by July 1, 2016;
* Develop 34 women groups in other cities like: Newark, Philadelphia, Connecticut and Florida;
* International Day of Solidarity with Oscar and Puerto Rico- mass mobilization in New York for June 20th, 2016 during Decolonization Committee hearings on Puerto Rico in the United Nations; all cities will mobilize contingents to NYC; and 35 countries around the world;
* Develop local activities in different cities for May 29, 2016- 35year of Oscar’s imprisonment;
* Mobilize contingents from different cities to support the Newark Puerto Rican Parade dedicated to Oscar Lopez Rivera;
* Contingent mobilizations to Philadelphia for National Democratic convention- July 25th, 2016;
* Online petition sign up campaign to get 100,000 signatures during Hispanic Heritage Celebrations- September 15- October, 14, 2016;
* Tweet campaign before Thanksgiving # Free Oscar Lopez Rivera