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Home The Campaigns: 1976-2017 Puerto Rican Political Prisoners Former Political Prisoners: thumbnail portraits since the 1999 presidential commutation of their...

Former Political Prisoners: thumbnail portraits since the 1999 presidential commutation of their sentences

Edwin Cortés resides in Puerto Rico, where he does medical billing for physicians. He and his wife help take care of his elderly mother in Aguadilla, where they own their own home. They also enjoy their role as grandparents. Edwin has become a popular basketball coach, working with young teens. Community leaders have recognized him as “a behavior model for our city,” noting that “all of us in Aguadilla feeling proud that a person like Edwin is a member of our community.”

Elizam Escobar is an art professor at Puerto Rico’s School of Fine Arts, a public college-level institution. Widely recognized as one of the country’s finest painters, his paintings are collected by museums and art collectors in Puerto Rico and elsewhere. He has been awarded government commissions for public arts projects, books, posters and murals. He often appears in the media to promote cultural activities. The director of the School of Fine Arts called him a “serious, responsible, an outstanding professor and an exceptional colleague,” as well as a model for the students, for his commitment to education and to excellence. He owns his own home and studio in San Juan.

Ricardo Jiménez moved to Chicago in 2009 after spending eight years in Puerto Rico and two years in Houston. He works in the heart of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community, where he was raised, as a Coordinator of a Counseling, Testing (HIV/STI) and Referrals Program for Vida/SIDA, an HIV/STI Prevention and Education program serving the Latino community. He was recently involved in a research project about HIV in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Adolfo Matos works for the municipality of Lajas’ Department of Art, Culture and Tourism, responsible for the Museo, Galería y Terraza Figueroa, as well as for teaching classes on the technique of copper relief. A master artisan, he travels throughout the island to vend his copper works at arts and crafts fairs. He often conducts workshops in the schools. Having made his home in his hometown of Lajas, where he owns his home, he is an important influence in the community. He travels at least annually to New York to enjoy his daughters and grandchildren.

Dylcia Pagán, based in Puerto Rico, but often in her native New York, works as a documentary filmmaker, media professional, and artisan. A popular speaker, she is often invited to conferences, forums and schools. Her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter are frequent visitors to the home she owns in Loíza. A book about her life will soon be published: Guided by Love: A Tribute to Dylcia Pagán.

Alberto Rodríguez who recently retired to Puerto Rico, lived in Chicago and worked as a paralegal for a small private law firm. He and his wife have a 9 year old son, and their home was a base for his two adult children and mother-in-law. He is a survivor of prostate cancer, diagnosed shortly after his release. One of the partners in the law firm called him “a master at getting along with all kinds of people, who has become a respected and sought after confidant of staff and attorneys alike,” noting his “trademark poise and calm, competent manner.”

Alicia Rodríguez works as a ceramic artist, applying a skill she learned in prison. So committed to her art, she designed and built with her own hands the home and pottery studio she now occupies. Alicia spends much time caring for the many stray dogs and cats she has adopted. Her elderly mother, fleeing harsh Chicago winters, lives with her.

Lucy Rodríguez, having worked many years as assistant to a renowned Puerto Rican artist, is now employed by the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, working in the Archivo-Legado Antonio Martorell. She shares a home with her partner in a rural mountainous area not far from her sister Alicia. Her home doubles as a private animal shelter, given their penchant for adopting stray animals. Lucy travels to Chicago as often as she can, to see her son and her grandson.

Luis Rosa works for physicians doing medical transcribing. He also organizes conferences and works in construction and remodeling, to help support his wife and two young children. An energetic human rights advocate and popular speaker, he often participates in forums and conferences.

Juan Segarra Palmer is a federally certified court interpreter, working in courts, depositions, and conferences. He enjoys family time with his daughter, a college student, his sons— an architect and an attorney— and his brothers. He has energetically and consistently offered his interpretating services on a volunteer basis to many community and religious groups.

Alejandrina Torres moved from Chicago to Florida following the long terminal illness and death of her husband, a retired United Church of Christ minister. She continues to be a full time caregiver, now for her elderly sisters, who live with her, and her three grandchildren, who live in close proximity. Her life-long commitment to her church is ongoing.

Carmen Valentín labors as a full time teacher and tutor of English in the U.S. Department of Education Student Support Services Program at a city university in San Juan. Her other “full time job” is nurturing her granddaughter, who was just awarded a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago. Carmen travels frequently to Chicago, to enjoy her, her son and two other grandchildren. Her supervisors at the university have noted her “great sense of responsibility and commitment to our institution and the whole population it serves” are exemplified by “her love and dedication to the students,” and her “excellent” integration into the working group.

Carlos Alberto Torres, since his parole in 2010 after 30 years in prison, quickly established his pottery studio in his home, thanks to the generous support of his fellow artisans and donations from people of all walks of life. Initially his time for producing ceramics was limited by the volume of invitations to events celebrating his release, in churches, universities and community organizations and to activities where he was the featured speaker. His time is now devoted to producing and selling his pottery and helping raise his partner’s eleven year old daughter.

27th Paseo Boricua 2020 (Virtual Edition)

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