To the singing of “Alegre Vengo”, over 70 people celebrated Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera’s 68th birthday at La Capilla del Barrio (The Neighborhood Chapel). Pastor Pedro Windsor and elder Raul Echevarria led the Day of the Epiphany-Three Kings Day worship service. Pastor Windsor spoke about the importance of celebration to the community and how his was almost ruined at hearing the news of the hearing examiner’s recommendation of denial of parole for Oscar, but despite this, thought it was important to celebrate the continuation of Oscar’s struggle for freedom.
Jan Susler, attorney from the Peoples’ People’s Law Office and Oscar’s attorney, told those gathered what a travesty of justice took place at the parole hearing and addressed the next steps in the case to take place in the next six to eight weeks, to encourage the Parole Commission to reject the unjust recommendation and to order Oscar’s immediate release on parole:
• Letter Campaign: Download the latest version of the letter for Oscar’s release, distribute widely, protesting the recommendation of the Parole Examiner and mail immediately. Send us an email at: email@example.com and let us know how many letters you have sent.
• Call-in campaign: Beginning Wednesday, January 19, we will be blitzing the Parole Commission every week (301/492-5990) until we hear of a decision.
• Delegations: delegations from various sectors, including civic and religious leaders and elected officials, will be requesting meetings with the Parole Commission
Youth from La Capilla stood and each one recited an achievement of Oscar’s ending with “Today, I am Oscar López Rivera.” It was a moving display of love and community. José E. López, younger brother of Oscar, historian, and Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, thanked the youth and spoke about the importance and continuation of the struggle for Oscar’s freedom, recounting his conversation with Oscar that morning, and how much it meant to be able to tell Oscar about the event. Pastor Windsor and elder Raul Echevarria then presented Michelle Morales, NBHRN co-coordinator, and Ricardo Jiménez, former Puerto Rican political prisoner, with a donation for the campaign.
Long time community leader Pablo Medina, backed by church musicians and the group Nuestro Tambo, then led the crowd in a rousing version of “Oye Boricua yo te canto esta canción, Viva la Patria, viva la revolución.” The event ended with a beautiful cake, decorated with a Puerto Rican flag and picture of Oscar, and a delicious Puerto Rican lunch prepared by Ruth Escobar was served! View the slideshow and view the video below.