Category Archives: Political Prisoners

All of Puerto Rico’s Gubernatorial candidates unite to call on Obama to Free Oscar López Rivera

translation by L. Alejandro Molina

Gubernatorial candidates for the various political parties in Puerto Rico, as well as the independent candidates, united to call on the president of the United States, Barack Obama, to release political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, who tomorrow- Three Kings Day – marks his 73rd birthday.
Manuel Cidre (independent), Alexandra Lágaro (independent), David Bernier (PPD), Pedro Pierluisi (PNP), Ricardo Rosselló (PNP), Marí­a de Lourdes Santiago (PIP) and Rafael Bernabe (PPT), joined their voices in a video produced by the not-for-profit film corporation Caserí­o Films, to send a direct message to Obama, and in English.
The video was filmed yesterday at the Ateneo Puertorriqueño by filmmaker Tito Román Rivera, with the help of Alvin Couto and Karla Victoria Pesquera.
“We did it as part of the campaign for the release of Oscar López, which we hope will get stronger this year before Obama leaves office. It’s a way to show that this is a call by the people in a unitary act that transcends the political question. It has become a matter of human rights” explained Román Rivera.

“We know that Obama has the power. That with a single piece of paper he could sign and grant Oscar’s release. If he’s pardoned several criminals and the Cuban political prisoners, we don’t understand why he hasn’t yet taken the time to release Oscar when his release has become a call throughout the world,” added the director of the documentary ‘El Antillano.'”
Román Rivera emphasized that all the candidates were willing to take part in the video and had no qualms with the proposed message.
“Each one gave it his/her own color, form, but came out well. Some had commitments which prevented them from showing up, like Pierluisi, who was out of the country, but they did what they could with their cell phones. They all cooperated, were very accessible, and delivered a message of unity,” the producer explained.
According to the filmmaker, this act demonstrates that politicians can transcend party lines and unite with a will to achieve an objective.
“It’s a cause for hope for us as a people and that is precisely what Oscar represents,” he noted.
In the video the candidates appear interspersed, saying the following message:
“Today I want to urge president Barack Obama to consider the case of the political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. Oscar has been serving a sentence for the last 34 years in federal prison in the United States. Longer than that other patriot Nelson Mandela, whose freedom you once vehemently demanded. I want to add my voice to the thousands of people in Puerto Rico who are asking you, president Obama, to liberate Oscar López Rivera. We are sure that he will abide by the law and be able to share with his loved ones during the rest of his life. The people of Puerto Rico have clamored for his release by presidential pardon, and we expect you will extend it before Oscar reaches his 73rd birthday on January 6, 2016. I urge president Obama to consider Oscar López’ case. While I don’t condone his actions, it is the ripe time to take action. Exercise your presidential power to set free Oscar López Rivera. It is time for Oscar to come home. Listen to our voices and liberate Oscar as soon as possible. President Obama, do the right thing. Release Oscar López Rivera. Let justice be finally done. We want Oscar home. We want Oscar home.”
The video, which includes no credits for recording, editing or production, ends with a call for people to make their own videos and share them on social media with the hashtag #ObamaFreeOscar

Gubernatorial candidates unite in calling on Obama seeking the release of political prisoner Oscar López Rivera

Tuesday, January 5, 2016
By Jessica Rá­os Viner
http://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/locales/nota/candidatosalagobernacionseunenenreclamoaobama-2147124/

Producer Tito Román Rivera emphasized that all the candidates were willing to take part in the video and had no qualms with the proposed message (Archive / GFR Media)

Gubernatorial candidates for the various political parties in Puerto Rico, as well as the independent candidates, united to call on the president of the United States, Barack Obama, to release political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, who tomorrow- Three Kings Day – marks his 73rd birthday.

Manuel Cidre (independent), Alexandra Lágaro (independent), David Bernier (PPD), Pedro Pierluisi (PNP), Ricardo Rosselló (PNP), Marí­a de Lourdes Santiago (PIP) and Rafael Bernabe (PPT), joined their voices in a video produced by the not-for-profit film corporation Caserí­o Films, to send a direct message to Obama, and in English.

The video was filmed yesterday at the Ateneo Puertorriqueño by filmmaker Tito Román Rivera,
with the help of Alvin Couto and Karla Victoria Pesquera.

“We did it as part of the campaign for the release of Oscar López, which we hope will get stronger this year before Obama leaves office. It’s a way to show that this is a call by the people in a unity that transcends the political question. It has become a matter of human rights” explained Román Rivera.

“We know that Obama has the power. That with a single piece of paper he could sign and grant Oscar’s release. If he’s pardoned several criminals and the Cuban political prisoners, we don’t understand why he hasn’t yet taken the time to release Oscar when his release has become a call throughout the world,” added the director of the documentary ‘El Antillano.’

Román Rivera emphasized that all the candidates were willing to take part in the video and had no qualms with the proposed message.

“Each one gave it his/her own color, form, but came out well. Some had commitments which prevented them from showing up, like Pierluisi, who was out of the country, but they did what they could with their cell phones. They all cooperated, were very accessible, and delivered a message of unity,” the producer explained.

According to the filmmaker, this act demonstrates that politicians can transcend party lines and unite with a will to achieve an objective.

“It’s a cause for hope for us as a people and that is precisely what Oscar represents,” he noted.

In the video the candidates appear interspersed, saying the following message was translated into Spanish:

“Today I want to urge president Barack Obama to consider the case of the political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. Oscar has been serving a sentence for the last 34 years in federal prison in the United States. Longer than that other patriot Nelson Mandela, whose freedom you once vehemently demanded. I want to add my voice to the thousands of people in Puerto Rico who are asking you, president Obama, to liberate Oscar López Rivera. We are sure that he will abide by the law and be able to share with his loved ones during the rest of his life. The people of Puerto Rico have clamored for his release by presidential pardon, and we expect you will extend it before Oscar reaches his 73rd birthday on January 6, 2016. I urge president Obama to consider Oscar López’ case. While I don’t condone his actions, it is the ripe time to take action. Exercise your presidential power to set free Oscar López Rivera. It is time for Oscar to come home. Listen to our voices and liberate Oscar as soon as possible. President Obama, do the right thing. Release Oscar López Rivera. Let justice be finally done. We want Oscar home. We want Oscar home.”

The video, which includes no credits for recording, editing or production, ends with a call for people to make their own videos and share them on social media with the hashtag
#ObamaFreeOscar

This is the most recent move in the campaign for López Rivera’s release. Activists, singers, politicians, actors, students, religious leaders, journalists and attorneys throughout the world have for years sought the release of the Puerto Rican political prisoner who is the longest held in the United States.

López Rivera was accused of seditious conspiracy after U.S. authorities connected him to the clandestine group the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), which fought for the independence of Puerto Rico. Of the 34 years he has served in prison, 13 were in solitary confinement, without any contact with his family.

Read the original article in Spanish.

View the video: http://bit.ly/obama-freeoscar

1,000,000 Tuits para Oscar

Regalo Pa Oscar-Libertad:
Este llamado de acción es para realizarse el proximo 6 de enero 2016, el día de su cumpleaños y el Día de los Tres Reyes Magos mientras que por otro lado el Presidente de los Estados Unidos, Barack Obama entra a su último año en oficina y Oscar en su año 35 como el prisionero político puertorriqueño de mayor tiempo encarcelado.

En este dia, la Red Nacional Boricua de Derechos Humanos te pide que PARTICIPES en Twitter and Facebook utilizando los siguientes hashtags:
#freeoscarlopez
#regalopaOscar-libertad

Etiqueta @BarackObama y @MichelleObama

Muestras de Tuits: http://bit.ly/sample-olr-tweets-2016

Tweet-OLR-2016-ENG-web

1,000,000 Tweets for Oscar

Regalo Pa Oscar-Libertad:
This call to action on January 6th, 2016, his birthday and Three Kings’s Day, comes as President Barack Obama enters his last year in office and Oscar enters his 35th year of imprisonment- the Puerto Rican people’s longest-held political prisoner.

On this day, the National Boricua Human Rights Network is asking YOU to participate on Twitter and Facebook with these hashtags:
#freeoscarlopez
#regalopaOscar-libertad

Tag @BarackObama and @MichelleObama

On January 6th, in one voice, let’s say, RELEASE OSCAR NOW, 34 YEARS IS TOO MUCH!

Sample Tweets at: http://bit.ly/sample-olr-tweets-2016

Tweet-OLR-2016-ENG-web

Puerto Rican Diaspora, Human Rights Issues part of Comprehensive National Puerto Rican Agenda

For immediate release
October 9, 2015

CONTACT
L. Alejandro Molina
312-296-7210
alejandrom@boricuahumanrights.org

Encuentro Nacional del la Diaspora Gather National and Local Officials to Call on
Washington for Action on Fiscal, Human Rights Crises

CHICAGO, IL – On October 14th, Puerto Rican leaders and advocates of human rights issues of Puerto Rican diaspora will arrive in Orlando for a two-day meeting to develop a national Puerto Rican agenda.

The Convening will provide actionable strategies to address the major issues facing the Commonwealth: Fiscal Crisis, Health Care Crisis, Human Rights and Civic Engagement, and Climate Change and Infrastructure Support. One of the issues to be presented by the Human Rights and Civic Engagement panel is the case of Oscar López Rivera, the 72 year old Vietnam Veteran convicted of seditious conspiracy, who has spent the last 34 years in federal prisons, 12 of them in total isolation. Advocates who are pressing President Obama for a presidential pardon include labor (AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)); the New York City Council, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; churches and religious leaders including the United Church of Christ in the U.S. and the Catholic Bishops of Puerto Rico; the United Nations Decolonization Committee, five members of Congress, the governor of Puerto Rico, six presidents of Latin American nations, as well as four of your fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Civic leaders, government officials from 10 states, and other stakeholders are expected to attend. The Campaign to Free Oscar López Rivera will be represented by members from NY, IL, OH, and NJ. The attendees from Chicago are: Luis Rosa, former political prisoner, Lourdes Lugo, community activist and niece of Oscar López Rivera, L. Alejandro Molina, all members of the National Boricua Human Rights Network and José E. López, Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and brother of Oscar López Rivera.

In addition, the following members of the Puerto Rican Agenda will be participating in the Encounter in Orlando: Ada N. López, ex-Trustee , University of Illinois Board of Trustees, Billy Ocasio, Executive Director, National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, David Hernández, President, Board of Directors, National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, Debbie López, President, Chicago Chapter, National Organization of Puerto Rican Women, Eduardo Arocho, Executive Director, Division Street Business Development Association,  Eliud Medina, Executive Director, Near Northwest Neighborhood Network, Fernando Grillo, Chairman, Board of Directors of ASPIRA of Illinois, Hilda Frontany, Board of Directors, Hipolito Roldan, Executive Director, Hispanic Housing, Javier Caro, ex-member, Illinois State Commission on Licensing, Mayra Estrella, Program Director, Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Michael Rodríguez Muñiz, Post-doctoral, Sociology, University of Chicago, Mike Vargas Inspector Supervisor City of Chicago, Department of Transportation, Pablo Medina, ex-member, City of Chicago Human Relations Commission, Ray Vázquez, ex-Commissioner, Dept of Human Services, Sandra Candelaria, Program Director, Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Veronica Ocasio, Chief of Staff, New Life Convenant Church.

Elected Officials Attending:

Luis V. Gutierrez Congressman, 4th District (D-IL)

Iris Martinez State Sen. 20th Dist.

Luis Arroyo Sr. State Rep. 3rd

WHO: Unidos Por Puerto Rico, Reps. Nydia Velázquez, Luis Gutiérrez, Jose Serrano, NYC Council President Melissa Mark Viverito, leaders of the Puerto Rican diaspora, local and regional government officials

WHAT:  National gathering of leaders to call for action on Puerto Rican crises.

WHERE: Welcome Reception held at Acacia’s El Centro Borinqueño (formerly Asociación Borinqueña)on Tuesday, Oct. 13th, 2015, 6-9pm.

1865 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando, Florida  32817

WHEN: October 14th, 2015, 8-3pm.

More information: alejandrom@boricuahumanrights.org

# # #

A Special Message on El Grito de Lares from Oscar López-Rivera

For the past thirty-four years, Oscar López-Rivera, the longest held political prisoner in Puerto Rican history, has commemorated El Grito de Lares from within a U.S. prison. From his cell in the Federal Correctional Institute in Terre Haute, IN, he wrote a brief reflection on the significance of El Grito.

sansebastianjam14It’s very important to celebrate the Grito de Lares, especially to learn more about that glorious event and to have a good appreciation about the courageous men and women who dared to sow the seed of struggle for the independence and sovereignty of our beloved homeland. We can raise the question, why was the abolition of slavery so important to the heroic women and men who took up arms against Spanish colonialism? Would the Spaniards have abolished slavery without their uprising? Would the colonizers have continued taking Puerto Ricans for granted? Would the anti-colonial struggle have had the continuity it has been able to have without this event? If the Grito de Lares had not happened, could so many generations of Puerto Rican freedom fighters have given continuity to the anti-colonial struggle?

The best leaders, who have succeeded them and emulated their example, have looked at the Grito de Lares as the most important symbol of the Puerto Rican anti-colonial struggle. They have used it as a platform not only to raise consciousness, but also as one that will not allow Puerto Ricans to forget that we have the potential of becoming an independent and sovereign nation as long as we dare to struggle for it.

For us, El Grito de Lares is as important as the Grito de Dolores is to Mexicans and the Grito de Yara is to our Cuban brothers and sisters. The Grito de Lares was only the beginning of a revolutionary process. Its celebration in the Puerto Rican diaspora and in Puerto Rico confirms that our struggle to end colonialism continues, and that generation after generation has carried in its heart our national boricua identity. Indeed, the seed sown by the heroic women and men in the Grito de Lares—that 23rd of September, 1868—has become a perennial one. Our struggle continues and victory will be ours because we dare to struggle and to win.

EN RESISTENCIA Y LUCHA,

Oscar López-Rivera

A TRIBUTE TO ISABELITA ROSADO MORALES AT HOSTOS COMMUNITY COLLEGE

By Ana M. López

On March 11, 2015, a celebration of International Women’s History Month honored the life and legacy of Isabelita Rosado Morales at Hostos Community College sponsored by the Puerto Rican Student Organization. Over 400 students attended this amazing event. Most, if not all, were born decades later and had never heard of these amazing women like Isabelita Rosado Morales and Alicia Rodríguez. After the student leadership welcomed the students and faculty and staff, Professor Ana M. López presented the Keynote speaker, Alicia Rodríguez, that spoke about Doña Isabelita Rosado.

Who was Isabel Rosado Morales? Doña Isabelita, as she was commonly known as was born on November 5, 1907, was an educator, social worker, activist and member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. Influenced by the events of the Ponce Massacre, Rosado became a believer of the Puerto Rican independence movement and was imprisoned because of her commitment to the cause. She was born in the barrio Chupacallos in the town of Ceiba, Puerto Rico to Simon Rosado and Petra Morales. Her father was a leader in the barrio and was often sought by the people of the barrio for his opinion on local matters regarding the community. Rosado received her primary and secondary education in the public schools of the towns of Ceiba, Fajardo and Naguabo. Isabelita, as she was known, was only eighteen years old when she became a student at the University of Puerto Rico. There she earned her teachers certificate. For years, Rosado taught at the rural schools in the towns of Ceiba and Humacao.

In Alicia’s powerpoint presentation, a series of pictures unfolded Isabelita’s story as a trailblazer for freedom and justice. There were depictions of Isabelita being arrest by the US Navy military police on the island municipality of Vieques. This picture spoke a thousand words. Alicia explained how Isabelita played a vital role in the protests against Navy’s gross violations of human rights and devastating environmental abuses for 60 years, as they used Vieques for war games in total disregard to the population.

Other images depicted Isabelita visiting Alicia at the Dwight Prison in Illinois, Isabelita doing presentations and talks asking for the release of Puerto Rican political prisoners. Her advanced age was never an excuse not to continue the struggle.

The latter part of Alicia’s presentation revealed contemporary women that have continued Isabelitas legacy. As Alicia stated “Isabelita lives in all of those who struggle for freedom and justice”.

Oscar López Rivera did participate in this tribute to Isabelita, too. We read Oscar’s anecdotes of his experience with Isabelita to the audience. He said:

When i arrived in Leavenworth i received a letter from Doña Isabelita. It made my day. Every year i would get a letter. The most significant and moving letter she wrote me was when i was in Marion. It was full of love and good advice….When i painted her it was like if i were talking with her. It made me feel very close to her. She was a very unique inspiration. i could feel her strength and her love for our struggle. She was one of the most devout followers of Albizu. She was a true Albizuista. Her letters were brief, but so full of love and encouragement that they would serve me as an elixir – a sanalotodo- a cure all. Her prison experience was visible in her letters. Her endings would include hugs, kisses and letting me know she would wait until i come home to feel that her life was as complete as she would want it to be. 

We were privileged to hear poetry dedicated to Isabelita written by national hero Rafael Cancel Miranda that came straight from Puerto Rico and from other poet/artist like Prisionera. Five local women were honored with the Isabelita Rosado award.

This event has an overwhelming impact on our students. In student’s reflections of this incredible event honoring the 107 years of Isabelita, college student Karen Mardenborough from The Latin American & Caribbean class captured the ambiance and said:

“A hush fell over the room as Alicia Rodríguez, a former Puerto Rican Political Prisoner recapped on her life in prison and also as she honored the life and legacy of the late Isabelita Rosado Morales in her fight to free Puerto Rico from USA colonial rule”.

Another student from LAC class, Ryan Bannan, said

“Although women are seldom mentioned throughout history, especially influential or revolutionary women, it doesn’t mean that they do not make a huge impact in the world. This holds true for women such as Isabelita Rosado Morales, a political activist who spend a century fighting for what she believed in.”

A student from the philosophy class, Kevin Flores stated: “this presentation changed the way I think about how countries conquer other countries. Especially when talking prisoners. It was shocking for me to learn that Alicia was in prison for 20 years… Isabelita was a great inspiration for Alicia and she inspired her to fight”.

The impact that the story of Isabelita told by Alicia Rodriguez had on Hostos students was apparent. Suelee Padilla writes:

“As I am sitting in my seat with deep attention to what Alicia was talking about regarding Isabelita’s fight for the independence of Puerto Rico will be long lasting…… I felt an emotional hurt of pain to hear what Alicia went through and that Oscar is still in prison. I could not understand why their freedom was taken away for their political believes.”

Bryan said that “the presentation was very inspiring, and was a reminder of the battles that both women and oppressed peoples respectively, still fight today”.

Pili Conde said about this well deserved tribute to Isabelita:

“Just like many other famous women in history like for instance, Harriet Tubman or Anacaona, (Taina cacica from the Dominican Republic) women have played a very important role in social change. Alicia’s visit to Hostos Community College is a reminder of women’s pivotal role in activism. As a woman, I can’t help but to be touched by this experience”.

In the words of Don Rafael Cancel Miranda about Isabelita:  

Doña Isabel Rosado Morales,
un siglo de amor inagotable,
un siglo de vertical combate,
un siglo de huellas imborrables.

 Doña Isabel Rosado Morales,
sembradora de verdades patrias,
maestra en la acción y en la palabra,
y maestra hasta en la cárcel.

Doña Isabel Rosado Morales,
mujer que no sabe de derrotas,
mujer que ha vencido las mazmorras,
mujer que no ha vivido en balde.

Doña Isabel Rosado Morales,
ante usted se estrella el imperio,
pues lleva usted corazón adentro,
la fuerza de Jayuya y Lares.

Doña Isabel Rosado Morales,
ante usted inclino la cabeza,
pues lleva en su alma la grandeza,
que solo llevan los inmortales.

Doña Isabel Rosado Morales,
fuente de un valor inclaudicable,
indomable hija de Betances,
tu estrella será nuestro estandarte.

The Country’s Petition for Oscar López Rivera

Editorial
March 20, 2015

http://www.elnuevodia.com/opinion/editoriales/peticiondepaisporoscarlopezrivera-editorial-2022621/

The hearings in Washington of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, dedicated to Puerto Rico and focused on the defense of individual liberties, must be interpreted, among other purposes, as a summons to the Obama Administration to finally end the prolonged political imprisonment of Oscar López Rivera. 

The human rights violations that leave the worst impression on a society are not only those that imply crimes or physical torture, but also those that exude the poison of intolerance and psychological abuse. 

But the claims revolved not just around López Rivera, since the petitioners, who traveled from Puerto Rico to the event of the organism of the Organization of American States (OAS), were members of civil rights groups, women’s organizations and law school clinics from three universities. There has probably never been a better stage for exposing the inequalities that emerge on a daily basis on the Island, and that, to date, have not managed to arouse the necessary attention, not in the United States, nor in the rest of the world. 

The progress of having been heard, both petitioners as well as some distinguished officials of the Puerto Rican government, has given this meeting special relevance. 

Figures such as the political counselor at the United States mission to the OAS, Anthony Pahigian, as well as the executive director of the White House Working Group on Puerto Rico, James Albino, attended the meeting and were able to learn first hand of the great economic, judicial and even statistical obstacles that prejudice entire communities.

The hearings addressed precisely affairs such as the repeated lack of services for disabled children, institutional barriers that limit the struggle for gender equality, and the continued pressure to apply the death penalty in the Island – an incomprehensible punishment in the 21st century, whose imposition by the U.S. Attorney violates the rights and beliefs of Puerto Ricans who oppose it, which is the vast majority of the population.

Representatives of the United States Department of State and Department of Justice had the opportunity to learn, this time directly and up close, the unanimity that exists regarding the call for the release of Oscar López Rivera, the 72 year old man who is facing yet another milestone – he will have served 34 years in prison as of this May – and who was accused of seditious conspiracy but never of causing any bloodshed. 

There is no reason for President Obama to continue ignoring the case of Oscar López. The clemency petition, filed by his lawyers in November of 2010, and by Oscar himself, from prison, in September of 2011, presumably still at the Justice Department, doesn’t even need the Justice Department’s approval or recommendation, since the president has the power to sign it whenever he pleases.

Again, the intense call for his release is consistent with the humanitarian efforts that are demanded of other countries. Oscar should not have to face getting sick in prison; that should be avoided at all costs.

Human rights organizations require that prisoners of conscience be permitted to serve their sentences as close as possible to their places or origin and their loved ones. In violation of this principle, Oscar López has served years in the remote prison at Terre Haute, Indiana, and to be able to see him, his closest family members have to invest many hours traveling and great sums of money. As the Attorney General of Puerto Rico, César Miranda, said so well at the hearings: “To speak of individual civil liberties without all of us blushing, in chorus we must demand the release of Oscar López Rivera.”

A good point of departure for continuing the dialogue here would be to follow up on the initiatives that the petitioners presented, and to keep the channels of communication open, with more strength every day, to protect fundamental rights.

NYC Hosts Successful 2nd National Meeting- Freedom Pa ‘Oscar Now

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.

Carta de Oscar a Clarisa: “Tenemos que atrevernos a ganar”

Por Oscar López Rivera

Querida Clarisa:
Este pasado 4 de enero hubo una celebración de mi cumpleaños en San Sebastián, mi pueblo natal. No he visitado mi pueblo por 40 años y sólo puedo imaginarme y visualizar los cambios que ha habido allí para que El Pepino se haya convertido en el pueblo que recibe tantos elogios. Hoy, al levantarme, lo primero que pensé fue, cómo esta celebración en mi pueblo, así como todos los actos de solidaridad, son fuente de esperanza y fuerza para mí.
Durante los pasados 33 años, cada acto de solidaridad que he recibido, fuera una carta o una actividad llevada a cabo por el Comité de Derechos Humanos de Puerto Rico, por La Red Nacional Boricua de Derechos Humanos, 32 x Oscar o Las Mujeres del Puente me han permitido experimentar y celebrar la vida aun dentro de las condiciones en la prisión más perjudiciales y deshumanizantes. Estas expresiones de solidaridad han posibilitado la sobrevivencia de mi espíritu –no, aún no han logrado mi espiriticidio– y me han permitido aportar mi granito de arena para la justa y noble causa de la independencia y soberanía de nuestra amada Patria.
Al escribir estas líneas pienso en el compa Norberto González Claudio, en su amada familia y en la gran familia extendida, la familia puertorriqueña. Sí la gran familia puertorriqueña como la llamó Don Rosendo Matienzo Cintrón. Espero que Norberto sea excarcelado este 15 de enero y que sea recibido de vuelta en casa como el héroe que es. Esa celebración tendría más significado porque el día 15 también se celebra el nacimiento del Dr. Martin Luther King, hijo, día que siempre debemos celebrar. Sí, tengamos esperanza de que Norberto regrese a disfrutar la vida en su Patria, junto a su familia.
Además pienso en la juventud boricua, y en la juventud boricua en la diáspora y la grandeza que han mostrado con sus esfuerzos de solidaridad. Lo que hicieron en la Universidad de Puerto Rico, la caminata de San Juan a San Sebastián, la lucha que llevan dentro de la Universidad y como ésta nos garantiza que el futuro de nuestra Patria se encuentra en manos de ellos. Me siento profundamente agradecido. Están en mi corazón y mi mente, y saber que Puerto Rico será el Puerto Rico que tiene ser, el jardín edénico.
Aprovecho esta oportunidad para mencionar algunos asuntos que creo necesitan ser atendidos como parte de nuestros planes  para el futuro. Sabemos que lo mejor de lo que deseamos para Puerto Rico será logrado en el futuro. Del pasado hemos aprendido, especialmente de los errores cometidos a partir del 1898, cuando nuestra querida Tierra fue invadida, ocupada militarmente y convertida en colonia de los Estados Unidos.
Debemos vernos como un pueblo en pie de lucha para que Puerto Rico sea una nación fuerte y soberana, libre del depender de recibir las miserias que el colonizador nos tira y libre de ser presa de los buitres y mafiosos de Wáshington y de Wall St., que nos roban la libertad y nos mantienen endeudados por siempre.
Debemos vernos como dueños absolutos de nuestro futuro y nuestro destino. Sabemos que amar y defender nuestra Patria no tiene precio, pero si la perdemos, el costo sería un desastre. Si no queremos perder nuestra Patria, primero necesitamos crear un frente unido y segundo, desarrollar estrategias boricuas que puedan desarrollarse por décadas al futuro.
No podemos continuar obrando como lo hemos hecho por los últimos 116 años, que nos mantienen atollados en el colonialismo. Tenemos que llenar los tanques de nuestro pensar para desarrollar e implementar las estrategias que se necesitan para sobrevivir y construir el Puerto Rico edénico que sabemos podemos ser. Tenemos los recursos necesarios para hacerlo pero tenemos que atrevernos a pensar fuera del marco tradicional. Tenemos que atrevernos a luchar. Tenemos que atrevernos a lograr nuestros objetivos. Tenemos que atrevernos a ganar.
Al terminar estas líneas y en el espíritu de la celebración de la vida, quiero expresar nuevamente mi agradecimiento a todos los Puertorriqueños que tuvieron el coraje, la visión, la compasión, la esperanza y el amor de luchar porque Puerto Rico fuera una nación libre y soberana, y quienes nos dejaron el legado de continuar su ejemplo. Además, quiero expresar a todos los buenos Puertorriqueños la misma gratitud por la solidaridad que me han demostrado. Sin dicha solidaridad, no sé cómo hubiese logrado tener la fortaleza mental y espiritual necesaria para sobrevivir las condiciones que he tenido que enfrentar en la prisión por todas estas décadas. Todos esos esfuerzos solidarios para conmigo no serán actos fútiles.
Así que, sigan fuertes, no pierdan la fe ni el coraje de luchar. Celebrando también en el espíritu de lucha del compañero Juan Santiago Nieves, les envío un abrazo y mi amor,