Category Archives: International

The Campaign to Free Oscar: 2014 in Highlights


* Oscar marks his 71st birthday, and writes to his daughter Clarisa: “I feel very comfortable with my life and in my skin. I know I chose to serve the most just and noble cause that a Puerto Rican citizen could serve. My years in prison are only the occupational hazard that the struggle costs. But I was conscious of what awaited me, because the women and men who had chosen to serve the same cause and who had been imprisoned had allowed me to see what awaited me. From them I learned that I could survive, no matter how great the challenge.”1

* Congressman Alan Grayson writes to President Obama.2 seeking Oscar’s release: “I am constantly approached regarding the imprisonment of Oscar López-Rivera. My constituents, a significant number of Puerto Ricans, and political leaders from all three major political parties in Puerto Rico are pleading for his release. Mr. López-Rivera’s 71st birthday is in four days, on Three Kings Day, or ‘Día de Reyes’ as it is known in Puerto Rico. I can think of no greater gift to him, his family, and the Puerto Rican community than his freedom and allowing him to return home on this important holiday,”

* Puerto Rican Independence Party Senator María de Lourdes Santiago and Juan Dalmau visit Oscar. “An emotional visit, equally inspiring, which has had the effect of reaffirming our commitment to the struggle for independence, which is a struggle for love,” the senator expressed.3

* President of the Puerto Rican Senate, Eduardo Bhatia of the Popular Democratic Party, calls for Oscar’s release. “The people of Puerto Rico, regardless of party lines, thought and politics, are all in agreement that Oscar López must be released.”4

* Puerto Rico’s main daily newspaper, El Nuevo Día, continues its series Las manos en el cristal, letters from Oscar to his granddaughter Karina.5 The series appears regularly in the newspaper throughout 2014. Read them here.

* In the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, Oscar’s presence is felt, through committees collecting signatures and the cabezudo donned by Agua, Sol y Sereno.6

* Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular’s best record of 2013 goes to “La lucha es vida toda,” an original musicalization of Oscar’s life, produced by Tito Auger and Walter Morciglio, and featuring some of Puerto Rico’s finest musicians, including Andy Montañez, Danny Rivera, Lucecita Benítez, Roy Brown, Antonio Cabán Vale “El Topo”, Zoraida Santiago, Tony Mapeyé, Fofé, Así Somos, and Intifada.7

* Oscar is recognized at the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Oscar Collazo; Collazo’s daughter gives the Oscar Collazo centennial medal to Oscar López’ daughter Clarisa.8

* Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro participates in a forum dedicated to the independence of Puerto Rico and calls for the release of Oscar and the independence of Puerto Rico.9 “Oscar López Rivera is the longest held political prisoner in the last four, five decades. He has spent 33 years behind bars for the sole crime of seeking, aspiring, dreaming and struggling for the independence of Puerto Rico (…) We should all get involved in the cause for the release of
Oscar López Rivera,” said the president.10

* The Conferencia Afroindígena, Latinoamérica y Caribe de Iglesias por la Paz (Conference of Afro-indigenous, Latin American and Caribbean Churches for Peace) in Mexico passes a resolution supporting Oscar’s release.

* Psychologists joined the monthly women’s vigil on the Puente Dos Hermanos. “The imprisonment of Oscar for 32 years, of which more than a third has been in isolation, is a reminder of how the system in which we live operates and how, if we want to achieve justice and equity in the population, we have to change the system,” said the president of the Asociación de Psicología de Puerto Rico (APPR).11

* Cornel West advocates for the release of Oscar at Trinity Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, an activity attended by hundreds, including City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez . “It’s insulting,” preached West, “to have our dear brother in prison for 32 years for simply standing up for justice.”12 “We never forget about the systemic context under which we struggle. And that’s why I’m here, because I want the world to know that Oscar López Rivera is my brother,” Dr. West expressed.13

* Popular Democratic Party Senator Antonio Fas Alzamora, writes to President Obama: “Oscar López’ freedom is a matter of human rights and justice. López has served more than enough time, and doesn’t deserve to be deprived of his freedom any longer. If the United States has been the defender of human rights in the world, internally it must practice this example. The case of Oscar López is the opportunity to practice what it preaches.”14

* Puerto Rico’s main daily newspaper publishes an editorial, “Indulto presidencial a Oscar López Rivera,” calling for Oscar’s release, and asserting, inter alia: “Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, convicted of seditious conspiracy in the context of his struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico, has spent more than three decades in federal prison. Oscar was never accused or found guilty of causing harm to or the death of anyone. His sentence is, by any reckoning, viciously disproportionate, beyond the limits of what can be considered just. Consequently, president Barack Obama should pardon López Rivera, so that he may leave as soon as possible for the free community like the rest of his compañeros, as has been the practically unanimous demand of figures representative of every social, political and ideological sector in Puerto Rico and the international community. The request is to end this nightmare that is an assault on human rights. […] All the prisoners, without exception, freed fourteen years ago, stand out today for their productive and exemplary lives. Elizam Escobar, to cite just one example, is today one of the most important artists in Puerto Rico and a respected professor. Exactly the same can be expected of Oscar – famous among those who know him well for his wisdom and stoicism. In fact, he has been a great educator in prison, teaching many fellow prisoners the basic skills of reading, writing, English, as well as painting and drawing.”15

* New York City Puerto Ricans convene a community dialogue about the campaign for Oscar’s release and mount an exhibit of his paintings.16

* Puerto Rico’s main daily newspaper features a lengthy interview with Oscar, in which he responds to unfounded assertions by the FBI concerning a 1975 New York City bombing: “[T]he interesting thing in all of this is that the FBI has investigated that case from top to bottom. They know well that I had nothing to do with the case. If they had the slightest evidence, they would have accused us of the bombing. I understand his pain. I believe in the sanctity of human life. For me it is something very serious. I was in Vietnam and I opposed the war exactly because wars are so awful. No one can say I have blood on my hands, absolutely no one, not the government of the United States, not this young man who lost his father. The evidence is abundant.”17

* Puerto Ricans living in Madrid rally for Oscar’s release, picketing at the U.S. Embassy, leafletting on the street and holding teach-in’s at various departments in the universities.18

* An Argentinian audience of many thousands at a Calle 13 concert respond to René Pérez’ call for Oscar’s release, holding their lighted cell phones up.19 Huge audiences in Chile, Uruguay and Mexico demonstrate the same enthusiasm for Oscar’s release, in response to René’s call.20

* Leaders of the Puerto Rican community in Orlando, Florida, rally for Oscar’s release, and
similar activities take place in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Hartford, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco.21

* 33 black men in the Dominican Republic, in solidarity with 33 black men in Puerto Rico, march in the plazas of nine different cities in solidarity with Oscar’s release.22

* In France, Puerto Rican artist Josean Ramos exhibits “Simultáneas de Chaplin”, including a painting of Charlie Chaplin holding a sign reading “Free Oscar López.” Ramos stated, “I have no doubt that the human dimension of Charles Chaplin would lead him to be in solidarity with the release of political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, who federal authorities have kept in prison for more than three decades […]. Chaplin was persecuted so much that he left the United States during the dark era of McCarthyism, accused of being a communist and an anarchist.”23

* The monthly vigil of 32 women takes place at the Puente Dos Hermanos,24 and in New York City, a similar group launches. “We want to initially focus our efforts in communities where there are a large Puerto Rican population because the rally is not only about sending a message to President Obama to exercise his constitutional power of pardon, but to educate and organize our community around Oscar’s release,” said one of the New York City organizers.25

* Thousands in the U.S. and Puerto Rico tweet at President Obama to #freeOSCARLOPEZ, so many that it becomes a trending topic.26

* Radio Universidad at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, airs “Oscar López Rivera; el puertorriqueño,” a three part series produced by Natalia Ramos Malavé, featuring attorney José Juan Nazario, Dr. Fernando Cabanillas, and Oscar’s daughter Clarisa Ramos López.27

* The International Association of Democratic Lawyers, meeting in Brussels, Belgium, adopts a resolution calling for Oscar’s release.

* Following an arson fire in Adjuntas’ Bosque del Pueblo, a tree is planted for Oscar. “We have said that the reforestation of the Bosque del Pueblo is a metaphor for Puerto Rico. We want to show that it’s possible to move from the crisis, the anger and indignation, to national reconstruction. But we can’t have an inkling of the path toward reconstruction without the freedom of Oscar López Rivera, whose imprisonment is one of the greatest injustices our people have lived,” said Alexis Massol, director and founder of Casa Pueblo, which manages the unique forest.28

* Attorneys from Puerto Rico José Enrique Ayoroa Santaliz and César Hernández Colón visit Oscar. Ayoroa Santaliz wrote of the visit, “At a given moment, with tears in his eyes, César said to Oscar: ‘You are the most free man I have known, free of fears, free of rancor, free of hate…’ giving an xray of his soul. That is Oscar López Rivera. All this leads to an obvious question – why must a human being with these characteristics continue to be in prison? Answer me, dear reader.”29

* 33 women in New York City once again gathered, this time in Fordham Plaza, with much spirit and support.30

* An ambitious walk launches in anticipation of the 33rd anniversary of Oscar’s imprisonment (May 29) through 33 towns in 33 days. In San Lorenzo, hundreds gather as the mayor leads the planting of 33 trees in Oscar’s name, 33 doves are released, 33 flags of Puerto Rico fly, 33 cannon shots fire, 33 yellow flowers are tossed from a helicopter, 33 mothers read letters to President Obama seeking Oscar’s release, and 66 children of all ages hold posters with the same message.31

* Attorneys from Puerto Rico Wilma Reverón Collazo and Alejandro Torres Rivera visit Oscar.32 Reverón Collazo reflected, “After more than five hours of conversation, which felt like five minutes, the time to leave was difficult. My heart wrenched, my eyes clouded. Our farewell hug was even warmer than our welcome hug, because we made a connection that goes beyond time – our hearts would be forever tied to Oscar’s.”33
* In New York City, 33 men marched in Lower Manhattan through the busy Wall Street sector to a local Vietnam Veteran’s memorial, in support of Oscar’s release.34

* The Federación Argentina y Union del Personal de Panaderías y Afines (FAUPPA) passes a resolution in support of Oscar’s release.35

* Universidad Metropolitana Ana G. Méndez (UMET)’s digital magazine, Revista Cruce, publishes an issue dedicated to Oscar and seditious conspiracy.36

* The 33 Mujeres del Puente mark the year anniversary of their monthly demonstrations for Oscar’s release. In the group, “there are women of different ideologies, but all are firm believers in human rights and admire the verticality, strength and patriotic commitment of Oscar López Rivera. The Mujeres del Puente have said more than once: ‘There is no reason whatsoever for Oscar to be in prison, when all of his co-defendants accused of the so-called crime of seditious conspiracy, which is nothing more than the criminalization of political ideas, were released many years ago and have led productive and worthy lives in Puerto Rican society. If it is really true that the president of the United States believes in human rights, he should immediately and unconditionally release Oscar. This demand has been taken up by the most diverse sectors, including political parties. We women have appeared Sunday after Sunday, a commitment we made, to come here to this Puente in front of the sea, the last Sunday of every month, to demand Oscar’s return home, to his loved ones, where he belongs.’”37

* Uruguayan president José “Pepé” Mujica visits President Obama at the White House and asks him to release Oscar.38

* In commemoration of the 33rd anniversary of Oscar’s arrest (May 29), creative and multitudinous activities are held throughout the world:

* Civic and religious leaders and human rights activists gather on a street corner in downtown Philadelphia to demonstrate their support for Oscar’s release on the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of his arrest.39
* 60 activists in Chicago bicycle in Oscar’s footsteps to commemorate his 33 years in prison.40
* In the Bronx, several hundred people march for Oscar’s release.41
* In international conferences in the Dominican Republic and Fiji, Rafael Cancel Miranda and Wilma Reverón respectively urge support for Oscar’s release.42

* Many mayors and city councils in Puerto Rico opt to express their support for Oscar’s release on the occasion of this 33rd anniversary, including San Sebastián, Sábana Grande, San Lorenzo, Jayuya, Orocovis, Yauco, and Comerío.

* In San Juan, “Al mar por Oscar,” organized by 32 X Oscar, alluding to Oscar’s stated yearning to see the ocean, Oscar symbolically arrives by sea (the Agua, Sol y Sereno cabezudo), welcomed by his daughter Clarisa and granddaughter Karina, thousands of supporters, a performance group, a concert with some of the nation’s finest musicians, and a giant kite soaring over the grounds of El Morro.43

* The 333 mile walk,“33 towns in 33 days,” organized by Carlos López and Félix Adorno and supported by the Comité Pro Derechos Humanos de Puerto Rico, arrives in San Juan, welcomed by hundreds including the Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, and a concert featuring more of the nation’s finest musicians.44 The walkers traversed the center of the Island, where they enjoyed in each town a unique reception, for example, in Orocovis, where the mayor received the walkers, solidarity in the plaza was such that even a homeless man emptied his pockets to contribute change to the campaign for Oscar’s release; in Villalba, leaders of the three political ideologies joined the walkers;45 and in Cayey, the mayor, accompanied by his daughter, welcomed the walkers, saying, “Here are the people of Cayey: the schools, the City Administration, and the citizens, saying ‘present!’ for a cause we understand to be very just,”
calling the activity “a great example of the capacity of consensus we Puerto Ricans have, to unite above our partisanship or the faith we profess.”46 Additionally, many of Puerto Rico’s finest athletes and sports writers participated in and supported the walk.47

* The Movimiento Olímpico de Puerto Rico (Olympic Movement of Puerto Rico) and the Colegio de Entrenadores (Association of Trainers) proclaim their support for Oscar’s release.

* Puerto Rico’s main daily newspaper publishes another editorial calling for Oscar’s release, “Ya llegó la hora de liberar a Oscar,” stating, inter alia, “A combatant in Vietnam, decorated for his heroism in that war, Oscar López Rivera, born in the town of San Sebastián 70 years ago, has been doubly punished: in the first place for his independentista ideals and his sympathies for groups that promoted the battle for independence on the fringe of the legal framework and electoral conventions. In the second place for rejected the clemency offered him in 1999, in solidarity with other Puerto Rican political prisoners who were left out of that offer.
That gesture, which reveals his moral and human stature and his extreme calling to sacrifice, refusing to leave prison until his compañeros could also leave, should have been interpreted by the authority that keeps him in prison as a show of political integrity and moral strength. To the contrary, the fact that he rejected the clemency, which in any other circumstance, in any other country, would have been understood and praised, bothered the U.S. authorities, who have increased their hostility against Oscar López.”48

* The Senate of Puerto Rico passes a resolution calling for Oscar’s release, co-sponsored by Popular Democratic Party senators Rosanna López and Antonio Fas Alzamora.49
* The president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, calls on Obama to release Oscar, saying Oscar “is in prison for his ideas of independence, his only crime is to dream of Puerto Rico’s freedom.”50
* Meeting in Buenos Aires, the Movimiento por la Paz, la Soberanía y la Solidaridad entre los Pueblos (MoPaSSol) (Movement for Peace, Sovereignty and Solidarity among Peoples) and the Confederación de los Trabajadores de la Educación de la República Argentina (CTERA) (Union of Education Workers of the Republic of Argentina), participate in a human rights campaign for the self-determination of Puerto Rico, and distinguished leaders sign a declaration calling for Oscar’s release.51
* Mother Jones Magazine publishes “This Man Is Serving 75 Years for “Seditious Conspiracy.” Is He a Danger to Society? Members of Congress, Nobel laureates, and the Puerto Rican government say 33 years was enough for Oscar López Rivera. Now it’s up to Obama.”52
* Civil society leaders and citizens of the nation of Barbados declare their unwavering solidarity with and support for Oscar and commit to continue to struggle for his release.53
* In the Dominican Republic, social movements, political organizations, students, professors, intellectuals, and ambassadors from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) expressed solidarity with Oscar.54

* In Buenos Aires, labor, civic and human rights leaders, elected officials, and foreign diplomats expressed support for Oscar’s release.55
* In Antigua and Barbados, as well as in Colombia, citizens, students and activists gather to express support for Oscar’s release.56
* Peruvian member of Parliament Gloria Flórez announces her support for Oscar’s release.57

* United Nations Decolonization Committee resolution “reiterates its request to the President of the United States of America to release the following Puerto Rican political prisoners serving sentences in United States prisons for cases relating to the struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico: Oscar López Rivera, who has been serving a sentence for over 33 years and whose case is of humanitarian character.”58 As the Committee hears testimony, people demonstrate outside the United Nations in support of Oscar.59

* Champion Argentine boxer Sergio Maravilla Martínez uses his Twitter account to broadcast a photo of himself sporting a teeshirt reading “Free Oscar López Rivera Now!”60

* New York City’s National Puerto Rican Parade honors Oscar as a Puerto Rican patriot and officially calls for his release: “Oscar López Rivera was not convicted of a violent crime,” says Orlando Plaza, Board Member for the National Puerto Rican Day Parade. “He was incarcerated for his beliefs and affiliations, and it is time that his prison sentence of nearly 33 years comes to an end. For that reason, we honor him to generate awareness and mobilize our community in support of the ‘Free Oscar López’ movement.”61 René Pérez of Calle 13, King of the Parade, wears a Free Oscar teeshirt, and walks beside Oscar’s daughter Clarisa and the Agua, Sol y Sereno’s cabezudo of Oscar.62

* In New York City, “Postcards4Oscar” opens, an exhibition of postcard art organized by Miguel Luciano with National Boricua Human Rights Network, with the theme of Oscar, and works by some of Puerto Rico’s most well known artists, though exhibited anonymously, followed by a fundraiser for the campaign for Oscar’s release: the sale of the postcard art pieces. The artist’s identity would be revealed upon purchase of the work.63

* The Puerto Rico chapter of Amnesty International dedicates its annual meeting to Oscar’s attorney Jan Susler, because of “her work in defense of civil and human rights, for her work with the Puerto Rican political prisoners, in particular for her work on the case of Oscar López Rivera.”64

* At the swearing in of Liana Fiol Matta as Chief Justice of Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court, her husband urges those present to do what they can to win Oscar’s release, a comment applauded by many of the guests.65

* Puerto Rico’s PEN Club writes to President Obama, saying, inter alia, “Oscar López is not a threat to society. What is a threat to democracy and to human rights is that he is the longest held political prisoner in United States prisons and he is not freed. What is a threat to democracy is that the United States does not embrace justice and does not comply with democratic values and human rights that make its nation strong. […] From there, you are not hearing the clamor of a people of every ideology asking you to open the cell door and allow him to embrace his family. Even the waves of our ocean clamor for his return. We want him to be able to live out his dream, to return to contemplate the ocean of our Island. Nevertheless, in spite of the torture that his isolation brought and his long live in captivity, longer than (Nelson) Mandela, his soul remains unharmed and his heart full of love.”66

* Professors on stage at the 2014 graduations of the Escuela de Artes Plásticas and the University of Puerto Rico unfurl banners proclaiming, “Oscar López Rivera, graduado con honores, ¡Libertad ahora!” as students – many of whom had painted their mortarboards with messages about Oscar – cheer.67

* In the Dominican Republic, the Comité Dominicano de los Derechos Humanos holds a forum,
”Encuentro por la libertad de Òscar López Rivera.”68

* Puerto Rico’s College of Physicians and Surgeons write to Obama, saying, among other things, “We want to present you with a humanitarian plea with a goal of obtaining the immediate release of Oscar López Rivera, who is currently the longest held political prisoner in prison in the United States. As protectors of the health of all our people, meaning their complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, we feel it is our duty to bring to your attention a matter that is today perceived around the world as a case of unjust and unusual punishment.”69

* Puerto Rico’s main daily newspaper publishes another editorial, “Traiciona la democracia la prisión de Oscar López,” calling for Oscar’s release, stating, inter alia, “The very fact that, contrary to the criminal justice policies of almost every country in the world, Oscar is held in a prison so distant from Puerto Rico, hindering regular family visits, is a form of incomprehensible torture by a nation which purports to have a humanitarian calling. President Obama, who claimed to feel moved when he visited the historic cell of Nelson Mandela in Robben Island, South Africa, should know that in the prison at Terre Haute, in Indiana, there is a man accused of the same “crimes” as Mandela – the same legal charge: seditious conspiracy – for which, different from the South African leader, he has served six years longer in prison: Mandela endured 27 years in prison; Oscar López has just marked 33 years in prison. […] The very fact that, contrary to the criminal justice policies of almost every country in the world, Oscar is held in a prison so distant from Puerto Rico, hindering regular family visits, is a form of incomprehensible torture by a nation which purports to have a humanitarian calling. President Obama, who claimed to feel moved when he visited the historic cell of Nelson Mandela in Robben Island, South Africa, should know that in the prison at Terre Haute, in Indiana, there is a man accused of the same “crimes” as Mandela – the same legal charge: seditious conspiracy – for which, different from the South African leader, he has served six years longer in prison: Mandela endured 27 years in prison; Oscar López has just marked 33 years in prison.”70

* On July 4, at Muñiz Air Base, in a ceremony in which Governor Alejandro García Padilla was honoring eleven men and women of the Puerto Rico National Guard, he called for Oscar’s release in the context of recognizing the U.S. founding fathers’ efforts to win freedom, noting that “a United States of America decorated war veteran who, for having different thoughts, does not enjoy freedom. […] To celebrate […] that independence and in homage to the great men of that independence, it is necessary for us to repeat today our call for the freedom of one who is in prison for simply thinking in a different way,” to the applause of the military audience at the Muñiz Air Force Base.128

* Thirty-three women journalists join the 33 women of the Puente Dos Hermanos at the monthly women’s demonstration for Oscar’s release. Spokesperson Sara Del Valle expressed, “I think it’s important when journalists see something that isn’t right, they get involved and they speak. The role of the press can’t be mere spectatorship. When you see that something is incorrect, the journalist can’t just fold her arms. To do nothing is also a position, and there are moments when the journalist must get involved.”71

* The annual commemoration of the assassination of young independentistas Arnaldo Darío Rosado y Carlos Soto Arriví at Cerro Maravilla is dedicated to Oscar’s release.72

* The Asociación de Periodistas de Puerto Rico (ASPPRO) (Association of Journalists of Puerto Rico) awards its prize for excellence to José A. Delgado for his extensive interview of Oscar, “El tiempo va a ser mío” (Time is going to be mine).73

* Chilean artist Elías Adasme, living in Puerto Rico, puts out a call for mail art on the theme “Oscar Libre,” urging artists to send one copy to Oscar and another to him, which he will then forward to President Obama.74

* The Organización Continental Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Estudiantes (OCLAE) (Continental Latin American and Caribbean Organization of Students) confers on Oscar the “José Rafael Varona Berríos” award. The organization of more than 3,000 students also passed a resolution calling for Oscar’s release.75

* The Federación Internacional de Colegios y Asociaciones de Abogados de las Antillas (FICAA) (International Federation of Bar Associations and Organizations of Attorneys of the Antilles), meeting in the Dominican Republic, passes a resolution calling for Oscar’s release.

* Eduardo Lalo, Humanities professor at the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras, opens the 2014 academic year with the traditional Inaugural Lesson before the hundreds of students gathered, by talking about the role of the university in a colonial context, and including these remarks:
For this reason, in a place like this, where the memory of our people survives, I am taking advantage of the opportunity to address you to claim once again the liberation of Oscar López Rivera, who has been in prison in the United States for more than 33 years. In spite of the massive and general clamor of Puerto Ricans and many more citizens throughout the world who demand an end to the injustice being committed against Oscar, the government and the president of the United States persists in ignoring our demand. I wonder if it isn’t one of the functions of this university to clearly and openly join the campaign for the release someone who has sacrificed his life for the cultural and political existence of Puerto Rico. Chancellor, isn’t this a shared purpose? Wouldn’t we, as the University of Puerto Rico, thus be setting an example so that other public and private institutions would contribute to liberate a man undeservedly punished and to show that institutional courage must be a fundamental part of institutional life? Don’t we find here, as well, the ethical leadership that our institution should exercise?76
Not only do the students loudly applaud; the chancellor goes to the podium and commits to raise the issue with the Academic Senate and to meet with the entire faculty, “so that from the University would emanate, with firm and convincing voice, the demand for the liberation of López Rivera.”77

* The Sao Paulo Forum, meeting in Bolivia, reaffirms its previous commitments and passes a resolution calling for Oscar’s release, and the independence of Puerto Rico.78

* Women in government join the 33 Mujeres del Puente monthly demonstration, chanting slogans such as “las mujeres del gobierno, por Oscar piden respeto” (women in government seek respect for Oscar) and “son jefas de gabinete y la justicia la defienden” (we are women cabinet ministers and we defend justice). The Governor’s Chief of Staff Ingrid Vila Biaggi served as spokesperson, stating, “The demand for Oscar’s release is a demand that rises above political divisions; it’s a demand that unites us because it’s about someone who has served so many years in prison.”79

* The Juan Antonio Corretjer Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago sponsors Fiesta Boricua, a two day celebration of Puerto Rican music and culture, where Oscar banners grace the main stage, the National Boricua Human Rights Network activists sport Free Oscar teeshirts and collect signatures for his release, and the musicians and dignitaries on stage call for his release.80

* Bishop Rafael Moreno Rivas of the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico and President of the Puerto Rico Council of Churches makes a pastoral visit to Oscar at FCI Terre Haute, Indiana. Wrote the Bishop, “Over and above his time in solitary confinement, maximum security, sensory deprivation and inadequate nutrition, he maintains his character resolute. The courage with which his mother faced the vicissitudes of life and his life forged in the anvil of prejudice and the fire of inequality have been his strength to struggle. He has fine skin and a sweet character for tenderness and noble causes, but thick skin for injustices and inequality. I was before an honorable, upright man, of much respect for human beings and humble to know how to listen even to ideas that he may later have to refute. […] I made a commitment in the name of the country’s churches and religious organizations to work collaboratively with churches and religious organizations in the United States to contribute to the process of his release.”81

* Attorneys from Puerto Rico Florencio Merced Rosa, Lourdes Muriente Pérez, Pedro Saadé Llorens and Rafael Emmanuelli – all members of the Board of Directors of the weekly newspaper Claridad, visit Oscar.82 Emmanuelli reported, “His word is precise, eloquent, without slang or anglicisims. His wisdom is evident, without a hint of arrogance. It was very emotional to meet him, after knowing him through our recent history, as a serious and tenacious man who struggles for independence for Puerto Rico. […] It was transforming to feel his hand on my shoulder and hear his words of consolation when I imprudently burst into tears. It was marvelous to know that he is full of love and has transcended the pain of the punishment to which he has been subjected.”83

* The annual commemoration of the anniversary of the Grito de Lares is dedicated to Oscar, “to reaffirm the demand of the Puerto Rican people for his release.”84 In honor of the occasion, supporters hang a banner calling for Oscar’s release on a main boulevard in Madrid.85

* The Concilio de Iglesias de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Council of Churches) and the Coalición Ecuménica e Interreligiosa de Puerto Rico (Ecumenical and Interreligious Coalition of Puerto Rico) once again add their voices to the call for Oscar’s release.86

* The Grito de los Excluidos Continental por Trabajo, Justicia y Vida (Cry of the Continental Excluded for Work, Justice and Life), passes a resolution supporting Oscar’s release.

* University of Sagrado Corazón professor and writer Rubis Camacho, convenes Escritores y Escritoras por Oscar … ¡Levanta tu lápiz! (Writers for Oscar … Lift your pencil!) on the campus, and devotes her radio program D’Letras to the participating writers, who read their works and who each called on their fellow writers to “alzar su lápiz por la libertad de Oscar.”87 She urged, “The freedom of Oscar López Rivera is the cause of the Puerto Rican community, because it is the defense of our human rights. It extends beyond the fruitless dichotomies, which are often the product of not knowing where we are headed as a nation; of the terrible absence of models, and the silence of other institutions called to make a transformation. Even in the middle of this, we can recognize the torture of an abusive sentence (33 years, 12 in solitary confinement). The nobility and dignity of Puerto Rican men and women flourishes. Our country opts for life.88

* The National Lawyers Guild, at its 77th annual convention in Chicago, passes another resolution calling for Oscar’s release.89

* The PEN Club of Puerto Rico, comprised of writers and academics, articulates its support “for Oscar López Rivera’s release, as an expression of justice and vindication of our freedom to choose our own destiny as a nation.”90

* President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro addresses the United Nations General Assembly and calls for Oscar’s release,91 saying “I want to raise the name of a man who has been in prison for 33 years, subjected to offensive conditions, he and his family, a man of Latin America, of our Caribbean. I am talking about Oscar López Rivera, the longest held political prisoner in the world, and he is in United States prisons. We demand his immediate release.”92

* President Maduro reiterates his support for Oscar’s release in a full page ad in the Sunday Washington Post,93 and solidarity organizations in Venezuela announce the initiation of a campaign in support of his release.94

* The 33 Mujeres del Puente are joined at their monthly demonstration by 33 lesbians. Spokesperson Olga Orraca Paredes says “Oscar brings us together, in our diversity! Oscar seeks equity and we seek freedom!”95

* The 33 women in New York City demonstrate this month in Queens. Said the spokesperson, a public school teacher, “We are 33 activists in New York City, modeling a bit what the compañeras have done on the Island. We are making a crusade once a month to different areas of New York. We’ve been in different parts of the city distributing literature and talking to people in the community, with information in Spanish and English. We spend 33 minutes talking to the community, chanting, and collecting signatures.”96

Governor Alejandro García Padilla visits Oscar at FCI Terre Haute, Indiana97 – the first time in history that a governor of Puerto Rico visits a Puerto Rican political prisoner.98 “ The governor’s office said the visit to López was done in representation of the people of Puerto Rico and the respect they have for the principles of democracy and López’s release. ‘Oscar López Rivera was jailed 33 years ago for actions that did not involve violence,’ García Padilla said. ‘On multiple occasions, through a range of different large-scale activities and through outreach to the top levels of the U.S. government, Puerto Ricans have called on President Barack Obama to release López. We reiterate that call today.’ […] The governor called López’s sentence ‘excessive’ and said it ran against the principles of ‘justice, humanity and reason. It’s time for Oscar to come home,’ García Padilla said.”99

* Following his visit, the governor writes a column about his encounter for Puerto Rico’s main daily newspaper, in which he expresses, “Oscar López Rivera has been in prison for 33 years. He hasn’t been accused of committing any violent act. He hasn’t been connected to any violent act. He was accused of conspiring. The line that divides ‘conspiring’ from ‘thinking’ is very fine. I don’t think Oscar would be a danger for the future of our country, of our community, or of our family. His sentence, far too excessive, violates the most elemental principles of humanity, sensitivity and justice. Oscar López Rivera owes no debt to society, and if he ever did, he paid it a long time ago. He hasn’t done us any harm. […] After about three hours, I asked him what message, if any, he wanted me to take to you. He thought for a moment. He said he was grateful for what has been done for his release. Then he spoke of hope and of solidarity. Yes. This man who has been in prison for 33 years. Who is already 71 years old. He still has heart and spirit to talk about solidarity and hope. What a lesson for so many people! The time arrived for me to leave. I had to go back to Indianapolis to catch my flight. I wanted to talk longer with him. I gave him a big hug. I told him that we would keep working for his release. I asked God to bless him. He thanked me. I thanked him. Leaving, it was still 48 degrees Fahrenheit. But for me, now it was a warm morning. I hope to greet that compatriot again, in Puerto Rico.

* The Nicaraguan ambassador to the United Nations, in his intervention in the Special Political and Decolonization Committee of the General Assembly, “calls for the immediate release of Puerto Rican patriot Oscar López Rivera. The United States should listen to the universal humanitarian clamor that seeks the unconditional and immediate release of this Puerto Rican patriot.”100

* Thirty-three women artisans and physicians add their voices to the Mujeres del Puente at the monthly demonstration. “You should know that our artisan tools will break the bars of this human rights violation and we will thus show that our culture and our people are struggling and will continue to struggle for our brother Oscar,” said Ita García, the artisans’ spokesperson.101

* Attorneys from Puerto Rico Charles Hey Maestre and Josefina Pantoja Oquendo visit Oscar. Pantoja writes of her visit, “I so admired his extraordinary memory, and it was so pleasant to hear him talk about his family, the happy moments of his childhood, of his San Sebastián, of his first school years in Chicago, of his painful time in Vietnam, of the strategies of community organizing in the Windy City. He made me very happy as a feminist activist to hear the high opinion he has about the vital role women play in community organizing work, about which he told us several anecdotes that supported what he said with much joy. I felt so proud when he called us modern Puerto Rican Amazons, referring to the group of women who get together at the Puente Dos Hermanos the last Sunday of every month. At that moment I had to make an effort to hold back my tears. Oscar is a man who opines with wisdom about any topic: politics, music, history, film, dance, activism, physical exercise, humanity.”102

* In an editorial about the mid-term elections, Puerto Rico’s main daily newspaper once again advocates for Oscar’s release, stating, “The freedom of a human being who will soon turn 72 years old, 33 of which he has spent in prison for ‘seditious conspiracy,’ which makes him the longest held political prisoner in the world, should not be subject to partisan meanness. The case of Oscar López Rivera has been posited as one of inescapable humanity, and president Obama has in his hands the ability to free him, and reclaim the Hispanic community, especially the Puerto Rican diaspora.”103

* The University of Puerto Rico Student Council sponsors three days of activities in support of Oscar’s release – a conference supported by the entire university community: the President, the Chancellor, the Asociación Puertorriqueña de Profesores Universitarias (Association of Puerto Rican University Professors, a labor union), the Hermandad de Empleados Exentos No Docentes (Brotherhood of Non-Teaching Employees, a labor union), with the painting of a mural, an exhibit of books about the Puerto Rican political prisoners, a photo exhibit about Oscar, several group discussions at different departments and university programs, and a concert, concluding with a letter from Chancellor Dr. Carlos Severino Valdez to President Obama, calling for Oscar’s release.104

* The 17th International Book Fair of Puerto Rico (XVII Feria Internacional del Libro de Puerto Rico) is dedicated to Oscar.105 In a formal ceremony, the Fair’s National Grand Prize “Ricardo Alegría” is conferred on Oscar, which is daughter receives on his behalf. 106

* The Conferencia Parlamentaria de las Américas (COPA) at its 13th General Assembly, adopts a resolution supporting Oscar’s release.107 Meeting in Paraguay, the organization, comprised of the congresses and parliamentary assemblies of the unitary, federal, federated and associated States, the regional parliaments and the interparliamentary organizations of the Americas, resolves that Oscar “has undoubtedly served more than enough time, given that he was convicted under the controversial anti-sedition legislation,” and that his release “is a question of justice and human rights, as he has been deprived of freedom for too long and does not deserve to be imprisoned for even one more day;” and that since “the United States has traditionally championed human right the world over, it must set an example and release Oscar López Rivera.”108

* On Veteran’s Day, the mayor of San Lorenzo, José Román Abreu, call on authorities and organizations working for veterans’ rights to add working for Oscar’s release to their agendas. “On Veterans Day, celebrating and honoring each and every veteran in my town, I have an important call to make to every authority and organism that struggles for the recognition of veterans’ rights. My call, which is already the call of all of Puerto Rico and many people outside of Puerto Rico, is for an exemplary veteran,” declared the mayor, referring to Oscar.109

* Poetas en Marcha and El Post Antillano convene 33 Hours of Poetry for Oscar, with Puerto Rican and Latin American poets and writers participating in a continuous reading in front of the U.S. court in San Juan.110

* The Federación Latinoamericana de Periodistas (FELAP) (Latin American Association of Journalists) passes a resolution at its meeting in Ecuador calling on President Obama to release Oscar from prison.111

* Puerto Rican athletes participating in the Juegos Centroamericanos y del Caribe (Central American and Caribbean Games) in Veracruz, México, bring Oscar to the fore: in the opening night parade of athletes, boxer Jeyvier Cintrón unfurls a banner supporting Oscar’s release, and judo athlete Augusto Miranda dedicates his silver medal to Oscar, saying, “I want to use this forum for all the people of Puerto Rico and the people of the U.S. It is an abuse that they are detaining Oscar López Rivera, a political prisoner. It’s time to grant his release.”112

* The Asociación Americana de Juristas Assembly of National Chapters issues a declaration during its meeting in Buenos Aires, stating, inter alia, “the Congress of National Chapters of the AAJ reaffirms the AAJ’s previous statements and oral and written interventions at the Human Rights Council demanding that the United States government and President Obama use the means allowed by law to freed Puerto Rican fighter Oscar López Rivera. It is unconscionable that the United States continues to detain this political prisoner for so long and in defiance of the expressed will of the people of Puerto Rico, its diasporic communities, regional organizations, and others who respect human rights, including organizations, personalities and individuals at the international level.”

* The monthly 33 women in New York City gather in El Barrio with the speaker of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark Viverito, and Oscar’s daughter Clarisa, to call for Oscar’s release.113
* Puerto Rico’s main daily newspaper publishes another editorial, “Obama, excarcéle ya a Oscar López,” calling for Oscar’s release, stating, inter alia, “This is a decision the president should make already, because every minute he prolongs that unjust imprisonment constitutes, on the part of the government of the United States, an affront to decorum and a contempt for dignity. This cause transcends social, political, religious, community, and even international boundaries. […]
The march for his release appeals to the humanitarian fibre of Puerto Ricans, but also to the people of the U.S., who, in other epochs and instances, have shown their humanitarian sense against injustices and against exaggerated imprisonments for issues of conscience, as was the case of Nelson Mandela. The efforts for the release of Oscar López have been taken on over and above ideologies or status symbols. This Puerto Rican, who is arriving at old age in the same way he has spend almost his entire youth, detained in a cell, should return as soon as possible to the bosom of his family and his land.114

* Former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, founder of the Fundación Internacional Baltasar Garzón (Baltasar Garzón International Foundation), sends a letter to President Obama seeking Oscar’s release, stating inter alia, that while the anti-colonial acts taken by the independence movement might violate U.S. law, “they weren’t motivated by a terrorist logic, but rather, by the spirit of struggle for freedom that informed the context of the right to self-determination of that time. That spirit of struggle can be seen in the sacrifice made by Oscar López Rivera, when he rejected the conditional commutation offered by President Bill Clinton in 1999, in solidarity with his compañeros” who were not included in the offer. He asked the president “in the name of Justice” to release Oscar.115

* On the arrival of several Guantánamo prisoners to Uruguayan soil, outgoing Uruguayan president José “Pepé” Mujica publishes an open letter to President Obama, once again calling on him to release Oscar.116

* Calle 13 finished the year with a concert at home in Puerto Rico, during which he again called for Oscar’s release. “And perhaps the most impressive message of the evening wasn’t offered by him, but when he gave the microphone to Clarisa López, Oscar López Rivera’s daughter, who read a letter demanding her father’s release. ‘Free Oscar López Now,’ she asked those who were watching livestream outside of Puerto Rico. The public responded with a chorus: ‘freedom, freedom, freedom.’”117

* On International Human Rights Day,
* the Comité Pro Derechos Humanos de Puerto Rico mounts “Arte a la Libertad,” an art exhibit dedicated to Oscar and the sale of works donated by Puerto Rico’s finest painters, sculptors and photographers, to raise funds for the campaign for Oscar’s release.118

* Amnesty International in Puerto Rico convenes a marathon of letter writing for Oscar’s release.119

* Honduran human rights champion Bertha Oliva, director of COFADEH, speaks out in support of Oscar’s release.120

* The Red de Intelectuales, Artistas y Movimientos Sociales en Defensa de la Humanidad (Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humankind) conference declares its support for Oscar’s release.121

* On the heels of the announcement of normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba and the prisoner exchange, many articulate their disappointment that Oscar has not yet been released and pledge to continue to advocate for Oscar’s release, including Governor Alejandro García Padilla122 and San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. Said the mayor, “The opening of this channel represents an immediate challenge for Puerto Rico. It gives us the opportunity to demand, with stronger vehemence, the freedom of our compatriot Oscar López Rivera. […] The people of Puerto Rico deserve that same gesture of respect, of an opening and of solidarity, through the immediate release of Oscar López Rivera. Diplomacy, to be effective, requires continuing gestures of justice and equity. Oscar’s freedom is a moral imperative that cannot wait.”123

* On the 119th anniversary of the first flying of the Puerto Rican flag,
* Puerto Rico’s main daily newspaper publishes yet another editorial, Más alta la bandera por la excarcelación de Oscar” (Raise higher the flag for Oscar’s release), calling for Oscar’s release, stating, “President Barack Obama’s historical feat underway, of melting the ties of incomprehension and abolishing the erroneous policies of isolating Cuba, in terms of the Caribbean and Latin America, the U.S. head of state still has one detail left on his list regarding human rights: the release of political prisoner Oscar López. Looking at our history, it is sad that the president of the United States has not taken advantage of a day like today – Monday, December 22 – , the solemn celebration of the 119th anniversary of the first raising of the Puerto Rican flag. To end the shame that this constitutes, for a nation like the U.S., rising from the clamor for individual and collective freedom, justice and respect for human rights, should already have ordered López Rivera’s release. But this current refusal, this delay, shouldn’t discourage those who, absolutely regardless of ideological considerations, have been advocating for his release. […] It would be a decision that would make the president grow even more. But more than that, it would constitute the reaffirmation of a U.S. policy of respecting human rights and of profound compliance with the diversity of thought and political preference.124

* At the Ateneo, a bastion of Puerto Rican history and culture in San Juan, Oscar is the special invited guest at the annual commemoration of Flag Day, and his daughter reads his words to the hundreds gathered, including the mayor, senators, and Oscar’s brother, “[Today] I will fly the same little Puerto Rican flag that has accompanied me for more than three decades, the one I swear loyalty to every morning when I wake up. At the same time you raise our flag at the Ateneo, I will be raising mine, and hoping that maybe [today] we will see many more flags flying flying alone.”125

* Hundreds of women populate the Mujeres del Puente monthly demonstration for Oscar, comprised of the various sectors that participated in the previous monthly gatherings, including women attorneys, social workers, psychologists, journalists, teachers and artists. Among the chants created especially for the day was “Mi regalo en Navidad la excarcelación de Oscar” (My Christmas gift is Oscar’s release).126 The spokesperson, former governmental Women’s Affairs Director, attorney María Dolores Fernós, said, “We keep hope alive that he will again trod on our Homeland. But we also keep alive the demand, the denunciation, and the call for justice until her arrives at his Homeland. Clarisa, I have no doubt that your father, who is free, will be freed. […] Compañeras, the 33 of the Puente, the 33 for Oscar, I have no doubt that our brother Oscar will be freed. Soon Oscar will be with us, looking at and admiring this beautiful ocean.”127

5See, e.g.,
36See, e.g.,
76, (translated from the original Spanish);
87Daniel Nina, “Rubis Camacho convocó D’Letras, Escritores y Escritoras por Oscar López” El Post Antillano, September 29, 2014,; Carlos Esteban Cana, “Escritores en Puerto Rico se solidarizan con la excarcelación de Oscar López Rivera,” Global Voices, October 16, 2014,
88Carlos Esteban Cana, “Escritores en Puerto Rico se solidarizan con la excarcelación de Oscar López Rivera,” Global Voices, October 16, 2014,
90 (translated from the original Spanish).


Kanpay Medya Sosyal pou jou fèt Oska Lopès Rivera (Medya Sosyal)

FINAL-CREOLE-OLR-100kTWEETJou ki va 6 janvye 2015 lan, La Repuesta Magazine and National Boricua Human Rights Network (NBHRN) mande w pou ou aji nan non prizonye politik Pòtoriken ki gen plis tan nan prison, pou onore gason vabyan ki sibi plis pase 33 lane nan prison. Kanpay lan rele “Nesans yon Patriòt, Zetwal tout yon nasyon”.
Kanpay k ap fèt sou tout planèt lan mande 100,000 twit delivre nan kont twiter Presidan an, Mezonblanch, ansanm ak Depatman Lajistis lan, jou ka va 6 janvye 2015 lan, dat nesans Oksa, jou epitany/twa maj, jou sila ki jou ki pi sakre nan peyi Pòtoriko. Nou mande sila yo k ap patisipe pou yo pataje “kado vityèl” tankou foto, video, ak tèks sou paj medya sosyal yo pou onore fèt Oska.
Èske w se yon poèt? Atis? Photograf? Bòs nan fè manje? Atlèt? Dansè? Edikatè? Etidyan? Travayè la sante? Labourè? Manman? Papa? Kèlkeswa sa w ye, oubyen fè, kèlkeswa kote ou ye, ekri ou post, pran ou foto, fè w video – dedye yon aksyon nan jounen w kòm yon kado vityèl pou Oska, ka va konsyantize ak genere sipò moun sou kanpay entèmasyonal k ap travay pou liberasyon l.
Poste youn nan poèm ou yo, patage yon foto zèv atistik ou oubyen fotografi ou, fè foto ou bèl plat manje ke w fè, fè dezoutwa kilomèt jòging epitou dekri eksperyans lan nan yon tèks, anrejistre yon dans, pran yon “sèlfi” ak yon pankat… Kite kreyativite jyayi pandan w ap kite moun toupatou konnen ou vle liberasyon patriyòt Pòtoriken Oska Lopès Rivera!
Jou ki va 6 janvye 2015 lan, sou twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, oubyen nenpòt ki lòt medya sosyal w itilize, poste ak hashtag #FreeOscarLopez ak #Gift4Oscar. Sou Twitter pa bliye tag@BarackObama and @TheJusticeDept pou sila yo ki gen pouvwa pou libere l tande demand nou. Nou ankouraje w koumanse planifye aksyon w pou vwa noutout ka pase ansanm jou 6 janvye 2015 lan.
Oska ki fèt jou lèmaj, se zetwal nasyon Pòtoriko k ap klere, ki ka mete inite nan yon pèp ki viktim zefè divizyon okipasyon kolonyal plis pase yon syèk gen yen. Jounen jodi a, pèp Pòtoriken fè w tètkole ki ofri Prezidan Barak Obama divès rezon pou l ekzèse pouvwa padon li genyen pou l libere Oska. Pou w konn plis sou Oska epitou li tèks li ekri, sou
Ann sèvi ak Medya Sosyal pou chanjman sosyal, ann voye yon mesaj klè: LIBERE OSKA JODI A, 33 LANE SE TWÒP ATÒ!
Pou plis efòmasyon ekri:
English version. Spanish version.

Campaña de medios sociales en el cumpleaños de Oscar López Rivera (versión corta)

FINAL-SPAN-OLR-100kTWEETEl 6 de enero de 2015 la revista La Respuesta y Red Nacional Boricua Pro Derechos Humanos (NBHRN) hacen un llamado a la acción pro la liberación del prisionero político puertorriqueño que más tiempo lleva encarcelado, Oscar López Rivera.
La campaña mundial espera conseguir 100,000 mensajes a las cuentas de Twitter del presidente y del Departamento de Justicia el 6 de enero de 2015, el día de cumpleaños de Oscar y el Día de los Reyes Magos, el día más sagrado en su tierra natal Puerto Rico.
Este 6 de enero de 2015, en Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram o en cualquier otra plataforma que utilice, haga publicaciones utilizando los hashtags #LibertadOscarLopez y #RegaloPaOscar y #BarackObama. En Twitter, asegúrese de etiquetar @BarackObama para que la persona con el poder de liberarlo oiga nuestras demandas. Les exhortamos a que comiencen a planificar para asegurarse de que todos seamos escuchados al unísono el 6 de enero. Les exhortamos a que comiencen a planificar para asegurarse de que todos seamos escuchados al unísono el 6 de enero.
Oscar, nacido el Día de los Reyes, se ha convertido en la brillante estrella de la nación puertorriqueña, capaz de unir a las personas que enfrentan los efectos divisores de una ocupación colonial de más de cien años. Ahora, más que nunca, el pueblo puertorriqueño se ha unido para presentarle al presidente de Estados Unidos Barack Obama motivos para ejercer su facultad de indulto y para que libere a Oscar. Utilicemos las redes sociales para lograr un cambio y enviar un mensaje claro: ¡LIBERE A OSCAR AHORA, 33 AÑOS ES DEMASIADO!
Para más información, escriba a
Vea ingles. Vea creole.

8th Gathering: “Forging Nets for Demilitarization and Genuine Security” Passes Resolution on Freedom for Oscar

The 8th Gathering of the International Women’s Network Against Militarism, that occurred on February 19-25, 2012, reunited 26 women representing 8 countries gathered in Puerto Rico. Delegates from the Philippines, Guahan (Guam), Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, Hawaii, and the US joined their counterparts in Puerto Rico to evaluate the growing military threat and develop strategies to counter the impact of militarism, military contamination, imperialism and systems of oppression and exploitation based on gender, race, class, nationality and sexual orientation. They passed the following resolution:

* We oppose the repression and incarceration of people who fight for genuine peace and human rights. We call on President Barak Obama to order the immediate release of Oscar Lopez Rivera who has been unjustly imprisoned for over 31 years. The U.S. Parole Commission recently denied his application for parole and ordered that he serve an additional 15 years in prison. By that time, he would be 83 years old and would have been incarcerated for 45 years for politically motivated offenses where no one was hurt. We condemn the inequity in his treatment, compared to his co-defendants. He is now the only one of the 1980’s pro-independence prisoners still in prison.

U.N. torture sleuth urges end to long solitary terms

By Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The U.N. torture investigator called on nations on Tuesday to end lengthy solitary confinement in prisons, saying it could cause serious mental and physical damage and amount to torture.
Solitary confinement is practiced in a majority of countries for reasons ranging from punishment to protection of prisoners from fellow inmates but is subject to widespread abuse, said Juan Mendez, U.N. special rapporteur on torture.
“It can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment when used as a punishment, during pretrial detention, indefinitely or for a prolonged period, for persons with mental disabilities or juveniles,” he told the U.N. General Assembly’s human rights committee.
“Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, supermax, the hole, secure housing unit … whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by states as a punishment or extortion (of information) technique,” Mendez said.
Citing studies showing a significant number of people would experience serious health problems and that some lasting mental damage was caused by just a few days of isolation, he said all solitary confinement longer than 15 days should be banned.
He defined solitary confinement as an inmate being held in isolation from all except guards for at least 22 hours a day.
Mendez told reporters he conceded that short-term solitary confinement was admissible under certain circumstances, such as the protection of lesbian, gay or bisexual detainees or people who had fallen foul of prison gangs.
But he said there was “no justification for using it as a penalty, because that’s an inhumane penalty.”
Mendez disputed the use of solitary confinement on national security grounds, citing the case of a woman in China who was isolated for two years of an eight-year sentence imposed for supplying state secrets to foreigners.
In a written report submitted to the General Assembly, he also described as “problematic” the use of super maximum security jails where solitary confinement is routine. He cited the United States, where he said between 20,000 and 25,000 people are being held in isolation.
Referring to Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier accused of leaking secret documents to WikiLeaks, Mendez told journalists there had been a “big improvement” in his detention since he was moved to Fort Leavenworth military base in Kansas after eight months in solitary at a military brig in Virginia.
Mendez had sought a meeting with Manning, who is awaiting a court martial, but they failed to persuade U.S. authorities to let them speak privately. Mendez said he planned to issue a report on Manning and other cases in the next few weeks.
Mendez also criticized the holding of pretrial detainees in solitary, which he said was common in Denmark. While this could be justified for short periods, it needed to be strictly controlled, he said.
Mendez, a law professor at American University in Washington, said three days he himself spent in solitary confinement under military rule in his native Argentina in the 1970s “were the three longest days in my life.”
(Editing by Eric Walsh)


International investigation into death of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos

Attorney Luis Abreu Elías, who represented Ojeda Ríos in the past, asked international organisms to investigate the assassination.

By Inter News Service
February 2, 2012

Attorney Luis Abreu Elías, who represented the deceased Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, member of the Boricua Popular Army–The Macheteros, today accused the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of having allowed a sharpshooter agent to shoot the Puerto Rican independentista leader at a time when he represented absolutely no threat.

According to Abreu Elías, Ojeda Ríos, after presumably having attended the activities of the Grito de Lares on September 23, 2005, arrived at his home in the neighborhood of Jaguitas, in Hormigueros, and on being surrounded by federal authorities, was apparently playing his trumpet when he was felled.

As a result of these facts, the attorney asked for an investigation independent of the governments of Puerto Rico and the United States.

“There was an agent who knew Spanish there, who was supposedly a negotiator, as was (police officer José Luis) Caldero previously in Puerto Rico, and he is the one who spoke with Filiberto Ojeda Ríos,” said Abreu Elías.

On this matter, he said that conversation lasted about an hour, from 4:28 to 5:28 p.m., and Ojeda Ríos was shot around 6:28 p.m., according to the FBI, but it must have been around 7:28 p.m., according to experts.

Abreu Elías asked that, given the irregularities in the case, an international organism such as the International Court in the Hague or a civil rights commission of the United States — comprised of people other than those who are currently in place in that governmental institution —, investigate the death of this Puerto Rican.

The investigation of the Civil Rights Commission of Puerto Rico (CDC by its Spanish initials) arrived at a conclusion, in a 238 page document, that the operation conducted by the FBI in Hormigueros was characterized by the excessive and abusive use of force.

In the same way, investigators from the CDC concluded that the FBI had other alternatives to conduct the arrest and, very probably, would have avoided the tragic unfolding of events.

He pointed out that the CDC affirmed in its report that the operation began with a violent attack on Ojeda’s home by use of a specialized paramilitary unit and the use of powerful M4 carbines, similar to those used by the United States armed forces.

The report indicates that even though the FBI claims that Mr. Ojeda Ríos shot first, an examination of the chronology of events, taken from the reports of investigations and witness statements, clearly demonstrates that the first armed offensive acts were taken by the FBI itself.

One witness’ testimony evaluated by the CDC was Luis Poventud Martínez, who at the time of the incident was director of forensic investigators.

The report underlines that in his testimony Poventud “narrated his impressions on arriving at the area of the home on September 24 and explained the tasks carried out by each of the institute’s group of technicians.”

It adds that “Mr. Poventud was one of several technicians from the ICF (Institute of Forensic Sciences) who alluded to the presence of a trumpet on the concrete block stairs of the home. One aspect of his testimony, which turned out to be worrisome but wasn’t able to be subjected to better corroboration, was his mentioning that he had been told that Mr. Ojeda Ríos was playing the trumpet when he was injured.”

CDC investigators asked him about the trumpet, and he responded that he heard it said that the musical instrument “had to be moved out of fear it was a bomb. Is that what you heard said?” “Yes. Apparently, from what they tell me, it’s that he was making use of that trumpet.”

N.Y. Friends of Puerto Rico at the United Nations report on UN hearings

After a successful round of hearings at the United Nation Decolonization
Committee and reception on Monday, June 20, this is to commend all who contributed to
this year’s success through work, presence in the activities or both.
The resolution adopted at the hearings, sponsored by five countries, Bolivia, Cuba,
Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, once again was a reflection of the issues of concern
presented by the petitioners, including Vieques and Culebra, the reality that Puerto Rico
is a Latin American and Caribbean nation, the call for the release of the Puerto Rican
political prisoners, in particular, that of Oscar López Rivera which was strengthened in
this year’s resolution. The resolution, of course, also reaffirmed the inalienable right of
the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence in conformity with UN
General Assembly resolution 1514(XV) of 1960, which is the Magna Carta for
decolonization under international law.
As in the past, a majority of petitioners from diverse Puerto Rico civil society and
political organizations and parties stated the relationship between the colonial status of
Puerto Rico and the violation of civil and constitutional rights, and the dire socio
economic situation of Puerto Rico’s working people. Some of the groups that testified
were the Puerto Rico Bar Association, the American Association of Jurists, the (U.S.)
National Lawyers Guild, the National Hostos Movement for the Independence of Puerto
Rico, the Nationalist and Pro Independence Parties of Puerto Rico, the Vieques
Affirmation Movement, the Committee for Puerto Rico at the United Nations
(COPRONU), and a number of human rights organizations including those doing work in
favor of the release of the Puerto Rican political prisoners.
In a reflection of the historical relationship between the progressive movement in
Puerto Rico and the progressive movement among Puerto Ricans in the United States a
number of organizations of the Puerto Rican community in New York and outside of New
York testified on the issues mentioned. Organizations favoring an expansion of the
powers of the Puerto Rican people under the present status after an exercise of
sovereignty also testified, as did a number of other U.S. organizations in solidarity.
The hearings once again reflected the issues around which there is common
ground among many Puerto Rican organizations. (President Obama’s recent visit to
Puerto Rico was only mentioned in the context of the disappointment it represented to all
including conservative sectors because of the very short length of his stay, less than four
hours; the emphasis on fundraising (almost one million dollars), and the lack of any new
proposal regarding the Puerto Rico’s political status issue.)
Monday’s reception following the hearings offered the opportunity for diplomats
from member countries of the UN Decolonization Committee, petitioners, New York
Puerto Rican community and political activists, and 1199 officers and activists to share a
distinctly happy evening of conversation and socializing. The Forum that followed the
reception and in which some of your participated or were present, was an effort and a step
toward greater unity among struggling organizations in New York and greater
communication between us in New York and the United States and sectors in Puerto Rico
concerned about the status issue and the socio-economic situation on the island. It was
also a step for other activities in the future.
For all of this result I would like to express gratitude to New York Friends of
Puerto Rico at the UN and all who have been supporting our activities. The only viable
solution to the colonial status of Puerto Rico is through a fair process and mechanism
which can only be guaranteed by international law and which will also impact upon
Puerto Ricans in the United States.
In struggle,
Olga I. Sanabria Dávila

Comité Pro-Derechos Humanos presentation to the UN


Señor Presidente, señores delegados. Soy Eduardo Villanueva Muñoz, portavoz del Comité Pro Derechos Humanos de Puerto Rico. Comparezco, como tantos años, a llamar la atención, no sólo de éste Comité, sino de la comunidad latina que vive y vota en Estados Unidos, de la nación puertorriqueña que reside en el territorio que aún hoy es Puerto Rico, según la doctrina de los casos insulares y del propio informe de Casa Blanca, que ratifica dicha condición territorial.
La situación colonial que vive nuestro país, provoca que se haya generado un grave deterioro en la convivencia de los puertorriqueños, que afecta la calidad de vida de los habitantes del territorio. La seguridad pública se ve afectada por las actividades del narcotráfico, que de algún modo subsidia la economía puertorriqueña, por las propias deficiencias que genera un sistema que no permite planificar la economía conforme a los intereses del país intervenido.
En Puerto Rico ocurren cerca de 1,000 asesinatos anuales. Existe un clima generalizado de violencia, impuesto por la dinámica de un mercado ilegal que se encarga de subsidiar el consumo, que en última instancia beneficia predominantemente a la economía de Estados Unidos, país del cual somos uno de sus mercados principales. La corrupción gubernamental y la puesta en práctica de una política neoliberal ha empobrecido considerablemente a las masas puertorriqueñas, que se ven obligadas a migrar o a vivir de los subsidios del gobierno y a su vez a delinquir en ocasiones, para poder sostener el patrón de gastos a que las condiciona el sistema de capitalismo salvaje al cual hemos sido sometidos.
El actual gobierno de Puerto Rico, pretende imponer la paz por la fuerza. Busca implementar la docilidad y la conformidad, tratando de abolir en la práctica, el sistema de frenos y contrapesos, que es la base teórica del sistema republicano de gobierno. En esa dirección se han tomado varias acciones para garantizar los intereses de los bonistas y del capital que subvenciona su propio mercado de consumo. Se despidieron miles de empleados públicos que tenían derechos adquiridos y una expectativa de permanencia en el empleo, algunos con más de una decena de años en el servicio público.
El FBI, que es la policía del país interventor, reprimió periodistas con gas pimienta y con agresiones físicas, en un operativo en De Diego 444 en Rio Piedras, que no produjo un solo arresto, ni acusaciones algunas a base del material incautado. Todo intento en el Tribunal Federal de la colonia, para que se resarza a los afectados ha sido bloqueado y los afectados aún esperan justicia a sus agravios.
Se agreden sindicalistas y estudiantes en un evento de protesta en el Hotel Sheraton en San Juan y la policía se niega a entregar el resultado de la investigación que se efectuara ante las querellas de brutalidad policiaca.
Se agredieron padres, maestros y estudiantes en la huelga de la Universidad de Puerto Rico. Ante las querellas de los involucrados, el Gobierno actual y su Departamento de Justicia, se niegan a informar qué pasos ha dado dicho departamento para investigar las querellas y proteger los derechos civiles de los participantes.
Ante una visita del Presidente Obama, se concede el día libre a los empleados públicos que quieran ir a recibirlo, pero se le niega a los que quieren protestar o pedir la reparación de agravios, por el sistema colonial que vive en Puerto Rico. Es decir, se utilizan fondos públicos para reprimir el pensamiento disidente y premiar la obediencia servil de los que apoyan las políticas del actual gobierno. Se pretende que el Estado opere como un ente monolítico en que el Ejecutivo, el Legislativo y el Poder Judicial, actúen como un equipo integrado, que limite o elimine la oposición real a la política neoliberal, de eliminación de plazas públicas, privatización, destrucción de recursos naturales y agrícolas, que se está implementando.
Se ha legislado para que los que necesiten instar un pleito en protección de recursos naturales, terrenos agrícolas o acceso a las playas, tenga que prestar una fianza que puede resultar excesiva, para proteger los desarrolladores e intimidar y disuadir a los ambientalistas. Se pretende construir un tubo que le rajará el vientre a la montaña puertorriqueña, a un costo de miles de millones de dólares, aún cuando no se cuenta con la capacidad para transportar el gas natural que se pretende suplir por el tubo de alta peligrosidad y toxicidad. La información sobre ese proyecto se otorga por cuenta gotas o en secreto y se mantiene bajo el control del Cuerpo de Ingenieros de Estados Unidos y del gobierno regente en Puerto Rico.
El poder federal ocupa el campo de las investigaciones criminales y las autoridades estatales presionan los jueces para limitar, sin enmienda constitucional, el derecho a la fianza, (fijando fianzas excesivas que equivalen a no poner fianza real). No se respeta la prohibición constitucional local de no interceptar comunicaciones telefónicas y por consiguiente, prima sobre la voluntad del pueblo que aprobó una Carta de Derechos en el 1952, los intereses de los Estados Unidos en cuanto a su manera de impartir justicia. Voceros de la fiscalía federal y funcionarios que otrora trabajaron en el FBI, siguen presionando la opinión pública para que acepte la pena de muerte a nivel federal y se condiciona la mente del pueblo para que eventualmente se acepte a nivel estatal. En justicia hay que decir, que tanto el Comisionado Residente, como el Gobernador, se oponen a la misma, a nivel estatal, aunque contradictoriamente, la aceptan a nivel federal. El Pueblo de Puerto Rico, se opone a la pena de muerte y lucha contra el sistema jurídico que permite este oprobio, este discrimen, que se nos trate menos que a reservaciones indias, en cuanto a reconocimiento de los derechos que tienen dichas reservaciones. Contra el sistema federal que he descrito y sus consecuencias, es que han luchado nuestros presos políticos. Obama, cuando era candidato, dijo en Puerto Rico que habría de atender el caso de los presos políticos, uno a uno, caso a caso. Hay un caso, que es el de Oscar López Rivera, que es una patente injusticia y un acto de tiranía, cada día en que transcurre encarcelado luego de 30 años, por su lucha en pro de la independencia de Puerto Rico.
No puede haber verdadero proceso de autodeterminación, mientras existan presos políticos. No puede haber descolonización, mientras el poder federal permita y apoye excesos de poder y uso de excesiva fuerza policiaca, para reprimir protestas, reclamos de justicia, defensas del ambiente y de los derechos de obreros y estudiantes, por el régimen actual que en alguna medida, responde a las políticas públicas del gobierno federal en Puerto Rico. Todos estos grupos disidentes y reprimidos, esperan por el resultado de una querella que radicó la ACLU ante el Departamento de Justicia en Washington para proteger los derechos constitucionales de los ciudadanos que por su activismo social, son perseguidos en Puerto Rico.
El Gobierno local, especialmente varios de sus funcionarios electos, aun dentro del partido de mayoría, no están necesariamente de acuerdo con la política, que desde el Poder Ejecutivo, se implanta contra el movimiento obrero y los recursos ambientales.
El puertorriqueño promedio resiente que a nivel federal se impongan políticas represivas, para limitar o extinguir la disidencia. En temas de derechos humanos y en defensa de los puertorriqueños, el pueblo y sus representantes, se unen para proteger y preservar los derechos de sus compatriotas, más allá de ideologías políticas. Eso explica el apoyo y la base de consenso que ha alcanzado la campaña para excarcelar a Oscar López Rivera.
El Presidente Obama, tiene la obligación moral de actuar a la altura de los compromisos y las actuaciones que su nación efectúa en nombre de la paz y la democracia. Así lo han reclamado públicamente diversos sectores ideológicos y de soluciones variadas de status político, que se proponen como alternativas al régimen colonial que aún existe en Puerto Rico. Un hombre justo, que ha entregado su vida y su libertad por la libertad de su pueblo, languidece por más de treinta años en cárceles federales. Este Comité debe exigir en su resolución, que se excarcele a Oscar López a la brevedad posible. Ello propiciara que la política de Estados Unidos sobre derechos humanos y su accionar en la colonia que mantienen en Puerto Rico, sea consistente con los reclamos que le hacen a otros países del mundo en el tema de los derechos universales de todos los seres humanos. De hecho, todas las potencias del mundo deben ser vigilantes entre sí para que se respeten los derechos de cada ciudadano, que le asisten meramente por ser seres humanos. La Asamblea General debe retomar el caso de Puerto Rico, de modo que las resoluciones que emita éste Comité no continúen siendo ignoradas por el Gobierno de Estados Unidos, como lo ha estado siendo hasta el presente.
Señores Delegados, es momento de actuar y velar porque se respete el derecho internacional. Esa es la ruta de la descolonización y la paz verdadera.
¡Muchas gracias!
Lcdo. Eduardo Villanueva Muñoz
Comité Pro Derechos Humanos
De Puerto Rico
ONU, New York
20 de junio de 2011

Baje la presentación con notas de alcalce aqui.

(Mexico) Comité Amigos Puerto Rico to denounce US invasion of Puerto Rico

On July 25, the Comité Amigos Puerto Rico will participate in a demonstration denouncing the US invasion on the same date in 1898. Below are the posters for the mobilization and the poster demanding freedom for Oscar, Avelino and Norberto.

National Lawyers Guild Int’l Committee Presentation to the UN

By Jan Susler

National Lawyers Guild International Committee Presentation to the United Nations Decolonization Committee Hearings on Puerto Rico June 20, 2011

The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association, which did not admit people of color. The National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. With headquarters in New York, it has chapters in every state. From its founding, the National Lawyers Guild has maintained an internationalist perspective, with international work a critical focus for the Guild. Its International Committee has organized delegations to many countries throughout the world, and Guild members are involved in international organizations such as the International Association for Democratic Lawyers and the American Association of Jurists. Presently, active subcommittees exist for Cuba, the Middle East, Korea, Haiti, Palestine, Iran, Puerto Rico, and other nations. Guild members, including myself, have a long history of defending activists in the Puerto Rican independence movement.

I. Status

The Obama administration has joined the ranks of successive U.S. administrations which ignore the provisions of international law which this Honorable Committee has year after year conscientiously applied to the colonial case of Puerto Rico. In March of this year, the U.S. President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status ­ of which there is not a single Puerto Rican member ­ issued a report with recommendations proposing methods for purportedly resolving the status question, acknowledging that “status remains of overwhelming importance to the people of Puerto Rico,” but nowhere expressly acknowledging the colonial status or the application of international law. The report suggests convening a plebiscite process, polling the people of Puerto Rico regarding available status options of statehood, independence, free association and commonwealth. However, there is a significant potential for the elimination of the independence option. Although more than half the population lives in the United States, the Task Force suggests that “only residents of Puerto Rico should be eligible to vote in any plebiscite.” The report, moreover, does acknowledge that it is the U.S. Congress that will ultimately determine the resolution of the status.

The report also addresses multiple insertions of increasing U.S. programs into Puerto Rico, from the economy to education to labor, from health care to the environment to law enforcement, in a barely veiled attempt to increase the nation’s dependency on the United States.

Last week, President Obama made a four-hour stop in Puerto Rico, the first U.S. president in 50 years to visit the island nation. He encountered mass demonstrations comprised of diverse groups, with placards and banners reading “Obama, Go Home!” and calling for an end to U.S. colonial control, independence, and the release of the Puerto Rican political prisoners, particularly Oscar López Rivera. “Obama can’t talk about freedom while he has Oscar and the others in prison,” was a theme echoed by the people.

While the White House claimed that the trip was related to furthering the goals of the Task Force, the visit was seen as a transparent attempt to woo the many Puerto Rican voters who now reside in the U.S., including in the hotly contested state of Florida in the upcoming 2012 U.S. presidential election, as the people of Puerto Rico cannot vote for president. More than half of Mr. Obama’s time on the island was spent raising over $1 million for his re-election campaign. It was clear to the Puerto Rican people that “neither Obama nor his recent predecessors recognize that the Puerto Rican political case is a colonial problem.”

II. The Ongoing Crisis of Colonialism

The economy of the colony, one of the few economies in the world with negative growth, and among slowest growing in the world, cannot support the population.

Unemployment is at its highest in two decades, higher than any state in the U.S. There is an unprecedented exodus, being called “a brain drain,” leading to the startling statistic that now more than half the Puerto Rican population lives outside the island, and the vicious cycle of difficulty in building an economy when much talent is seduced away by the lack of job opportunities on the island and the perception of increased job opportunities in the U.S.

With lack of control over its own borders, Puerto Rico has been unable to stem the unstaunched flow of drugs, which has led to a second, underground economy and related crime, as well as a staggering murder rate: as of June 9, there had been 491 murders this year alone; if the murder rate continues, there will be 1,000 murders this year, making it the most deadly in Puerto Rico’s history.

In this context, in the past year, the human rights crisis on the island has burgeoned. The superintendent of Police, a former U.S. agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], has overseen and applauded the unending wave of violent attacks on people protesting the policies of the colonial administration, particularly on striking students at the University of Puerto Rico.

Police violence has attracted the attention and condemnation of Amnesty International in London, and even the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating.

The colonial administration has taken measures to ensure that the courts of the colony are hostile to anything but the administration’s partisan line, leaving most litigants without an impartial judicial forum in which to challenge such human rights violations.

The colonial administration packed the Supreme Court, increasing the number of justices from seven to nine, in a transparently partisan effort, accelerating the nomination and confirmation process. The expansion, which supposedly responded to the court’s workload, was largely seen an excuse and has been criticized as unnecessary and a power grab by the governor’s pro-statehood party, with the criteria for appointment favoring strong pro-statehood credentials over legal and judicial experience. The court-packing was only one part of a broader plan, which included legislation to gut the judicial appellate process, fast-tracking appeals directly to the partisan higher court, often bypassing the intermediate appellate courts.

The U.S. federal court in Puerto Rico has been a full partner in ratifying the rampant violations of human rights, with the case against the Puerto Rico Bar Association as a foremost example, where the court blatantly assisted disaffected pro-statehood partisans’ attempts to not only dismantle the venerable institution, but to try to seize the building which serves as its headquarters as well as a cultural center, and in the course of which the federal court held in contempt and jailed the president for educating his constituency about the lawsuit.

The public university system has been taken over by partisan politics. The colonial administration expanded the board of trustees with four fast-tracked appointees and named a commission to restructure the university with members openly hostile to its existence. The administration has also imposed tuition hikes and curricular changes which undermine university autonomy and the role of the university as a forum for open discussion of issues of concern to the people of Puerto Rico.

The labor movement continues to be under attack by the colonial administration’s adoption of anti-labor measures, never having redressed the dismissal of some 30,000 public workers, the abrogation of collective bargaining agreements in the public sector, or the creation of “public-private alliances” as part of the privatization of essential public services, with the resultant hardship for workers in Puerto Rico. Labor union protests of these draconian measures have been met with indifference in some instances and with violent repression at other times.

The history of criminalizing the independence movement continues unabated. The head of the FBI office in San Juan was recently promoted to an administrative position in FBI headquarters, a move attributed to the “disarticulation” during his watch of the clandestine pro-independence group The Macheteros, including the 2005 assassination of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, the 2008 arrest of alleged Machetero Avelino González Claudio, and the 2011 arrest of alleged Machetero Norberto González Claudio.

III. Political Prisoners

This year has been historically significant for Puerto Rico’s political prisoners held in United States prisons. The sole remaining political prisoner of the group arrested in the 1980’s is Oscar López Rivera, who has the unenviable distinction of having served 30 years in prison, despite the fact that he was not convicted of harming anyone or taking a life. López, 68 years old, and serving a sentence of 70 years, has a release date of 2023. In a politically punitive move,
the U.S. Parole Commission recently refused his parole bid, erroneously asserting that his release would promote disrespect for the law. The decision ignored the express will of the Puerto Rican people and those who believe in justice and human rights, counting tens of thousands of voices across the political spectrum who have uniformly supported his immediate release. The Commission ignored the evidence establishing that he met all the criteria for parole and also ignored its own rules in the process. Among these many ignored voices are this venerable body, members of the United States Congress and many state legislatures of the various states; the city councils and county boards of many locales in the U.S. and Puerto Rico; the mayors of many towns in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including the Association of Mayors of Puerto Rico; bar associations including the Puerto Rico Bar Association, the National Lawyers Guild and the American Association of Jurists; clergy and religious organizations, including the Ecumenical Coalition representing every religious denomination in Puerto Rico; the National Latino Congreso, human rights advocates, academics, students, artists, community organizations, and workers.

The Commission also flouted President Clinton’s 1999 determination that Oscar’s sentence was disproportionately lengthy and that he should be released in September of 2009. The Commission ignored the fact that Oscar’s co-defendants released as a result of the 1999 Clinton clemency are productive, law-abiding citizens, fully integrated into civil society. Finally, the Commission ignored its own July 2010 order to release Oscar’s last remaining imprisoned co-defendant Carlos Alberto Torres.

Avelino González Claudio, a 68 year old man with Parkinson’s Disease, has served 3 years of his 7 year prison sentence and is scheduled for release in 2012. His brother, Norberto González Claudio, 65, was apprehended last month after 25 years in clandestinity. He awaits trial in federal court in Connecticut, facing 275 years for the same charges as his brother and many former political prisoners, accused of belonging to the Ejército Boricua Popular – Macheteros, a pro-independence clandestine force which expropriated over $7 million from a Wells Fargo Depot in 1983, the proceeds to finance their struggle for independence.

They remain strong in spirit, their commitment to the independence of their nation undaunted, in spite of adversity, particularly buoyed by the mass demonstrations of support for their release during the U.S. president’s recent visit to the island.

IV. Environment

Two examples suffice to demonstrate the need for self-determination. The island of Vieques, a U.S. Superfund site, has been shamefully left to abandon after 60 years of military occupation polluted its land, air and water and consequently gravely damaged the health of the people and their economy. Yet in the face of this shameful abandon, the U.S. makes promises it does not fulfill and suggestions without remedial action.

A $450 million 92 mile gas pipeline, which the colonial administration euphemistically calls “the Green Way,” is another pending environmental disaster, to run across the island, threatening the safety and health of the people and the environment along the entire path, without public participation, in violation of all the rules, and replete with allegations of corruption. The project has generated massive public opposition. The role of United States agencies is suspect.

V. Conclusion

The National Lawyers Guild International Committee, incorporating the requests sought by other presenters before this Honorable Committee, urges the adoption of a resolution calling for the General Assembly to consider the case of Puerto Rico; and calling on the government of the United States to:
• immediately cease the brutality, criminalization and harassment of, and attacks on, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, the students, and all those who exercise their fundamental rights to expression and association;
• immediately release Puerto Rican political prisoners: Oscar López Rivera, who has served more than 30 years in U.S. custody, and Avelino González Claudio and Norberto González Claudio;
• identify and hold criminally liable all those responsible for the assassination of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos (2005), Santiago Mari Pesquera (1976), Carlos Muñiz Varela (1979), and other militants of the Puerto Rican independence movement;
• withdraw the FBI, the U.S. court, and all other U.S. police, repressive and military forces from Puerto Rico;
• withdraw from Vieques, formally return legal property of the land to the people of Vieques, cease detonating unexploded ordnance, completely clean up the pollution left by the U.S. Navy’s 60 year occupation through the use of proven, environmentally friendly clean-up methods, and compensate the people of Vieques for the damage to their health done to them by the same;
• cease and desist from the application of the death penalty in Puerto Rico;
• ensure the right to quality public higher education;
• formally commit to negotiate in good faith with the people of Puerto Rico a solution to the colonial condition; and recognize the proposals that emanate from a Constitutional Assembly, initiated by the people of Puerto Rico, such as that called for by the Puerto Rico Bar Association, as the true expression of the aspirations of the people of Puerto Rico, and respond to them accordingly.

Dated: June 20, 2011 Respectfully submitted,
Jan Susler People’s Law Office
1180 N. Milwaukee Chicago, IL 60622

On behalf of the National Lawyers Guild International Committee

Download the presentation here.