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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



Ana M.Lopez*, spokesperson for NY Coordinator to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera

The New York Coordinator wants to express our gratitude for this invite to the Tribute to Juan Mari Bras, a great scholar, patriot and fighter for Puerto Rico’s independence. Juan Mari Bras will always be remembered for his political contributions and unconditional support to the freedom of the five Puerto Rican Nationalists pardoned on September of 1979 by former President Jimmy Carter.

I am a spokesperson for the New York Coordinator/ La Coordinadora to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera. The New York Coordinator, (consisting of representation of many organizations, community based organizations, labor unions, and some Puerto Rican elected officials, community activists and individuals) was formed to advance the campaign for Oscar, a 70 year old Puerto Rican freedom fighter in US prison for 32 years.

I am here to speak to you about Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera, one of the longest held political prisoners for wanting to free Puerto Rico from US colonial domination.

Who is Oscar López Rivera? Oscar López Rivera was born on January 6th, 1943,and is from San Sebastían, Puerto Rico. He migrated to the United States as a child and his family settled in Chicago. He was a Vietnam veteran and was awarded a Bronze Star for his bravery and saving lives. When he returned to the Puerto Rican community in Chicago, he became involved in the community struggles for better housing, education and founded many of the institutions in existence today. To mention a few, he was the co-founder of the Puerto Rican Culture Center and the Don Pedro Albizu Campos High School. He was arrested in May 29th, 1981 and accused of the crime of “seditious conspiracy” a political charge “to other throw the government of the United States by force” and was sentenced to 70 years in prison. His sentence is disproportionate and inhumane. During his imprisonment, Oscar was kept in solitary confinement for 12 years. Usually, three years of confinement in solitary will make a prisoner go insane or commit suicide. But in the case of Oscar, it was intended to break him from his political beliefs; “the love he has for Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican people and for freedom”. These deleterious prison conditions that Oscar has had to endure are inhumane, cruel and unusual punishment constituting torture that violate both the US constitution and international laws.

In his own words, “I want you to know that in spite of all the dehumanizing, toxic and deleterious conditions I have been subjected to while in prison, I have not allowed them to poison my heart, to break my spirit, to deviate me from my dreams and goals and to inculcate hatred and fear in me. Every day, when I wake up, I thank life for all the things (the good and the bad) it has allowed me to experience. Prison for me has been another crucible that has only made me stronger and has allowed me to continue on my path to become a better human being”.

The 32 days to Free Oscar Campaign led by Boricua Human Rights Network of the Puerto Rican community in Chicago started 32 days of imprisonment with a youth each day before the anniversary of May 29th . Similarly, Puerto Rico launched theirs under the name “32XOSCAR”. The Free Oscar Campaign has gained momentum in Puerto Rico after more that five cities went to prison for Oscar under name “32XOscar”. Every 29th of the month 32 women demonstrate in the bridges “Los dos puentes hermanos” in San Juan for Oscar. We felt the island/nation’s momentum in New York. Thus, the major float in dedication to Oscar was used in the National Puerto Rican parade of June 9th, 2013 with over a million of spectators.

We want to congratulate all that participated in the parade in particular the contingent to Free Oscar. Many are present here today. Coordinator members did an excellent job at getting petitions signed by the public. We are thankful to the 1199 Union and UGT (Union) from Puerto Rico for their efforts to promote the Freedom of Oscar Lopez Rivera. The float, sponsored by 1199 Union, was beautiful and perfect; the “Bomba and Plena” dancers and musicians added to the cultural spirit that Oscar has so much protected. Even the weather agreed with our sentiments since it was a nice sunny day that helped in the marching a lot easier.

All our efforts can not be greater than the 32 years that Oscar has done for us in US prisons.

An added feature to the parade was the company of our former political prisoners Ricardo Jiménez and Luis Rosa. They were extremely happy to participate since this was their first time in the National Puerto Rican parade in New York. On Saturday, June 8th, we participated in the festival at 116 street collecting signatures for letters addressed to President Obama. We collected hundreds of signatures. We witness the overwhelming support of our people for Oscar. Later on Saturday, Ricardo and Luis participated in panels at the Left Forum at Pace University and also were interviewed at a local radio station.

In the city of many skyscrapers, many took turns to “go to prison for Oscar” as well in the prison cell of the float; former political prisoners Luis Rosa , Ricardo Jimenez, NYC Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito, was joined later by Congressman Jose Serrano and Assemblyman Jose Rivera took turns in the cell. Banners of the NY Coordinator and its members and fans held by members read “Libertad para Oscar” and a member dressed in a orange prison suit with his man shift cell “Yo soy Oscar” dramatized the prison experience by allowing spectators to take turns with the portable cardboard cell.

On Monday, June 10th, following the parade, the Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla of Puerto Rico met with US Attorney General Eric Holder advocating for Oscar’s release.

Oscar has giving us the strength to fight for his freedom. His freedom is our freedom!!!!

So join the many voices of Puerto Rican society all claiming Oscar’s release from the legislative body to the governor of Puerto Rico, the mayor of San Juan and the mayor of the towns of Puerto Rico, the many Puerto Rican elected officials in New York and Chicago Illinois, and international Noble prize winners like Archbishop Desmund Tutu (South Africa). Sign a letter to President Obama asking him to give Oscar a presidential pardon like all his co-defendant received when released in 1999 by President Clinton. Prior presidents have granted presidential pardon to Puerto Rican political prisoners. In 1979, President Carter released five Puerto Rican Nationalist; President Clinton released 11 of Oscar’s co-defendants and now is President Obama time to do the same.

President Obama can release OSCAR with the stroke of his pen.

Join us to Free Oscar López Rivera because Juan Mari Bras would have been the first one without hesitation or equivocation to join or lead this struggle. Become a member of the NY Coordinator (housed in El Maestro), sign a petition, do a literature table, invite us to talk about Oscar at your job, school community, tenant association, attend events like the “Cantata para Oscar” on October 26th, 2013 (Hostos Community College) and contribute in any way or form you can. We meet twice a month in El Maestro Cultural Center at 1300 Southern Blvd. Bronx, New York. For any further information, you can contact us at,,;; or just call Ana at (646)229-5133.
* Professor Ana M. Lopez is an adjunct Assistant Professor at Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College, Humanities Department/Latin American Caribbean Studies in the Bronx, New York

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