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

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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.

CONTINUE READING: http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/05/obama-continues-to-ignore-pleas-to-free-puerto-rican-political-prisoner-oscar-lopez-rivera/

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