AFL-CIO Convention September 8-11, 2013, Los Angeles
Resolution 51: Resolution in Support of the Release of Oscar Lopez Rivera
Submitted by the Puerto Rico Federation of Labor and OPEIU
Referred to the Executive Council
WHEREAS, Oscar López Rivera, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, returned to the Puerto
Rican community of Chicago to become a successful community organizer and help improve
conditions in education, housing, and employment;
WHEREAS, in May 1981, he was arrested, along with 14 other men and women, and was
convicted of seditious conspiracy and related offenses, yet he nor any of his co-defendants was
convicted of harming or killing anyone;
WHEREAS, in 1999, as a result of an international campaign for their release, President Clinton
commuted the sentences of most of these men and women. The President offered to commute
Oscar’s sentence after he served another 10 years in prison. In solidarity with those not included
in the commutation, Oscar declined;
WHEREAS, all those released are living productive, law- abiding lives. Oscar is the only one of
his co-defendants still behind bars;
WHEREAS, at 70 years old, he is the longest-held political prisoner in the history of Puerto
Rico. He has served more time than the South African leader Nelson Mandela;
WHEREAS, there have been many personalities and international organizations which have
applied for his release over the past 32 years. That support includes several members of the U.S.
House of Representatives, civic and religious leaders throughout the U.S.; elected officials from
New York, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois; international figures from Haiti, Mexico
and Australia among others; as well as many Puerto Rican and Latino communities throughout
the United States;
WHEREAS, in Puerto Rico, several former governors, to include Rafael Hernández Colón, Sila
María Calderón, Anibal Acevedo Vilá, and the current governor Alejandro García Padilla, have
all requested in writing the immediate release of Oscar López Rivera. Both the current Puerto
Rico Resident Commissioner to the U.S. Congress, Pedro Pierluissi, and the Mayor of San Juan,
Carmen Yulín Cruz, have taken similar positions; and the Puerto Rico Senate and House of
Representatives have also weighed in on the issue by passing resolutions in their respective
bodies in favor of Oscar López Rivera’s release;
WHEREAS, the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization has adopted resolutions
annually, as recently as 2011, calling on the President of the United States to release Oscar López
WHEREAS, AFSCME, LCLAA, and the Puerto Rico AFL-CIO have all passed similar
resolutions in their respective conventions;
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, the 2013 AFL-CIO Convention calls on the President of the
United States to exercise his Constitutional power of pardon, and to grant the immediate and
unconditional release of Oscar López Rivera.
RESOLUTION OF THE [ORGANIZATIONAL NAME]
at its City, State
Month, date, 20xx
IN SUPPORT OF THE RELEASE OF
THE PUERTO RICAN POLITICAL PRISONERS
WHEREAS: Oscar López Rivera is serving a sentence of 70 years in U.S. federal prison for his commitment to the independence of Puerto Rico. He was not convicted of causing any bloodshed or violence.o.
WHEREAS: His sentences is unjust and disproportionate, and he has already served more than 30 years in prison, which is far more than people convicted of murder, home invasion, rape, robbery and other crimes are typically made to serve.
WHEREAS: Oscar López Rivera, 71 years old, has a release date in the year 2024, when he will be 80 years old.
WHEREAS: The conditions in which he has been held, including over 12 years in solitary confinement, are a clear violation of international human rights;
WHEREAS: Twelve of his compatriots, some of whom were serving sentences longer than 70 years, were released after serving 16 and 20 years in prison, as a result of the [former] President Bill Clinton’s commuting their sentences in 1999, and they have since successfully integrated into civil society in Illinois, Florida and Puerto Rico, where they enjoy wide respect and support.
WHEREAS: As part of that commutation, President Clinton offered to release Oscar López Rivera if he served an additional ten years with clear conduct. Although he decided he could not accept the offer because it did not include one of his co-defendants, Carlos Alberto Torres, he has now served an additional ten years with clear conduct.
WHEREAS: Carlos Alberto Torres was released on parole in July of 2010 after serving over 30 years in prison, and is successfully integrated into civil society in Puerto Rico, where he, too, enjoys wide respect and support.
WHEREAS: The U.S. Parole Commission recently and unjustifiably denied Oscar López Rivera parole, telling ruling him the serve another 15 years behind bars before he would be considered again for parole, when he will be 83 years old.
WHEREAS: The relations between Puerto Rico and the United States continue to be under revision, and the inalienable right of the Puerto Rican people to self-determination includes the release of its political prisoners.
WHEREAS: Their release is supported by the vast majority of civil society in Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican communities throughout the United States, including the Puerto Rico Bar Association, past governors, virtually every religious denomination in Puerto Rico, elected officials, and sectors of diverse ideologies, unions, environmentalists, academics, community and human rights activists, and international personalities.
WHEREAS: Three U.S. presidents have commuted the sentences of Puerto Rican independentistas pro-independence advocates in U.S. prisons: President Truman in 1952, President Carter in 1979, and President Clinton in 1999.
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights:
1. Calls upon the Honorable President of the United States, Barack H. Obama, to immediately release Oscar López Rivera.
2. Calls upon its members to act in their respective locales to promote the release of the Puerto Rican political prisoners, through educational forums, resolutions, cultural programs, and other activities, and to collect letters from renown and influential people persons of renown to President Obama, endorsing their release.