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“Nosotros No Tenemos Armas Para Echar A Pique Sus Fuerzas Navales,
Pero Tenemos el Arma de Echar a Pique Su Prestigio en El Mundo.” Albizu 1930

HomeOscar's JourneyOscar Freedom Campaign in the News9th letter by Oscar López Rivera: "Free Air on One’s Face"

9th letter by Oscar López Rivera: “Free Air on One’s Face”

olr-and-baby-wanda-webOscar López Rivera / imprisoned 32 years
Dear Karina,

A few nights ago, perhaps because I wrote to you before going to bed, I had a dream of your mother and you. The three of us were at the sea, the place I long to see more than anything else, the waves breaking against the Cave of the Indian.

You will ask, now that I recount this, what people dream about who have been deprived of their freedom for so many years. It is possible that, although we are locked away, we obstinately dream of the streets and the light, and of the faces that are restricted for us.

For me it was like this: during the first years, my pattern of dreams was essentially the same as before I was imprisoned. But everything changed when they put me in the sensory deprivation program. Then my dreams became nervous, intermittent, fleeting. The absolute isolation and confinement altered the quality of my rest. Since that experience, I have almost never returned to sleep with dreams that were relaxed or profound.

If you or your mother Clarisa appear in my dreams, usually it is for a short time. Every now and then there is a little conversation and the same happens with other members of my family or my compañeros.

In the darkness of the cell, the loneliness strikes doubly hard. It is sad not to be able to share my ideas, thoughts, and tribulations with others who are in the same situation as I am. Do you know what I miss most? Not being able to discuss a book I have just read. This seems like something insignificant, something banal compared with so many troubles that loneliness brings, but it is not.

Years ago, I greatly enjoyed solving math problems and I read whatever book I could get regarding this subject. Every now and then I would find a prisoner who had also read it, and it was a great cause of rejoicing for both of us, but this did not occur very often. Now I spend the hours wondering how to resolve other problems: violence in our communities, dropping out of school, corruption… It is difficult to interchange ideas through letters, because one is anxious for immediate reactions, the rich fertile dialogue with others.

All my life I enjoyed reading, the pleasure of reading by myself. Maybe for this reason it was eascy for me to deal with the rigors of confinement, especially those that they call solitary confinement. After awhile I realized that the only way to survive is to keep busymyself occupied. Of course there were and are moments of melancholy, which is the loneliness that bites piercesone. But I quickly push those storm clouds out of my mind and I think about something else. The simple fact that they let me make a short call, or send an email, or receive a visit, make my present current time in prison more bearable than those years of isolation.

Regarding the question you asked about my future, I will tell you that at night, in those batches of insomnia, I look at the ceiling of my cell and meditate on the things I would like to do. The future for me is something unpredictable, but fear is not part of a future outside of this gulag. I never wonder if I will feel inhibited, or if the reality will seem strange, or that if I will shrink before a world that will take time to recognize. Puerto Rico has changed. So has the Chicago of my adolescence. Those nights when I stay away thinking about my projects, I animate myself by telling myself that, at the end, I have survived 70 years and I have walked beneath the shadow of death many times.

If a man has managed to survive this, how is he going to be afraid of the free air when it hits him in the face?

In resistance and struggle, your grateful grandfather,

Oscar López Rivera

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