Category Archives: Write to Pres. Obama

Obama Continues to Ignore Pleas to Free Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera

by Matt Peppe

Two and a half months ago, asked by award-winning playwright Lin-Manuel Mirandaabout imprisoned Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar López Rivera – whose only crime, according to Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is “conspiracy to free his people from the shackles of imperial justice” – President Barack Obama told the Hamilton creator that he “had [the case] on his desk.” Miranda, whose parents hail from Puerto Rico, used his invitation to the White House to bring up the issue of López Rivera’s continued incarceration, which is of tremendous importance to Puerto Ricans. Both on the island and in the diaspora, freedom for the 73-year-old political prisoner enjoys overwhelming popular support and has united people across the political spectrum.


Sunday marked the 35th anniversary that López was imprisoned. He was convicted in 1981 of “seditious conspiracy” for trying to overthrow the U.S. government by force, as well as minor charges including possession of firearms and transporting stolen vehicles across state lines. López was acussed of holding a leadership position in the FALN (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña), a Puerto Rican nationalist organization, which he did not admit to but did not dispute. The group claimed responsibility for a series of bombings in Chicago and New York during the 1970s and 1980s, though as the Chicago Tribune noted the bombings were carried out “to damage property rather than persons” and the FALN “were out to call attention to their cause rather than to shed blood.”
López was never personally tied to any bombing or any other act of violence that resulted in the death or injury of any person. Undoubtedly, if the government possessed any evidence of his participation in, or organization of, a violent act they would have charged him with it in court. But they merely charged him with conspiracy to commit sedition, the same political charged used by the apartheid South African government to convict Nelson Mandela two decades earlier. López has now served seven more years in prison than Mandela did before being freed and becoming South Africa’s first post-apartheid President.


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

translation by L. Alejandro Molina

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

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

Pres. Obama: You Can Free Him with the Stroke of a Pen

Download and sign the letter to President Obama urging him to release Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. After signing please mail the original document to:

National Boricua Human Rights Network
2739 W. Division Street
Chicago, IL 60622

You can also:

  • Write to Oscar and express support (address here).
  • Support the campaign financially: donate directly through PayPal on our website: press “donate” below .
  • Adapt your own letter. Copy and paste ours below to start.


September 22, 2015

Barack H. Obama
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C.

Re: Oscar López Rivera
87651-024, FCI Terre Haute

Dear President Obama,

I write to urge you to immediately release Oscar López Rivera, who has served 34 years in prison for his commitment to the independence of Puerto Rico.

He is deserving of commutation for many reasons: his 70 year sentence is disproportionate: he was not convicted of harming or killing anyone; at 72 years old, he has spent almost half his life in prison; his co-defendants, released long ago, are productive, law-abiding citizens; he is a decorated Vietnam veteran. Support for his release is broad and growing in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and internationally, and includes labor (AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)); the New York City Council, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; churches and religious leaders including the United Church of Christ in the U.S. and the Catholic Bishops of Puerto Rico; the United Nations Decolonization Committee, five members of Congress, the governor of Puerto Rico, six presidents of Latin American nations, as well as four of your fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

We applaud your promise to commute more sentences, your expressed understanding that the constitutional power of pardon is the appropriate remedy for correcting the wrong of disproportionate sentences, your most recent commutation of the disproportionate sentences of 46 people convicted of drug related offenses, and your declaration that, “I believe that at its heart, America is a nation of second chances, and I believe these folks deserve their second chance.”

We are at a loss to understand why you have not commuted Mr. López Rivera’s sentence, and encourage you to grant him immediate release. His family and supporters await him with open arms.

Yours truly,

Print/Signature Address

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