Meeting with president Barack Obama to be requested
by José A. Delgado, El Nuevo Dia
NEW YORK – In unanimity, three dozen Puerto Rican elected officials in the United States agreed yesterday to ask for a meeting with president Barack Obama to demand the liberation of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera.
“(Clarisa) your father will be in your arms this year. He will walk the streets of San Sebastián and Chicago this year,” said Democratic congressman Luis Gutiérrez (Illinois) to López Rivera’s daughter before dozens of Puerto Rican leaders at a meeting in Federal Hall, in the area of Wall Street.
Led by Puerto Rican congressional representatives Gutiérrez, José Serrano (New York) and Nydia Velázquez (New York), and the speaker of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark Viverito, some 30 elected officials had their first meeting after last October’s creation of the Caucus of Puerto Rican Elected Officials in the United States.
The session took place parallel to the activities of a summit in New York convened by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at the Hunter College School of Social Work and Health, located on the other side of the city in the old Puerto Rican neighborhood in Harlem.
At the meeting at Federal Hall, in the heart of Wall Street and where George Washington became president of the U.S. in 1789, state legislators and city council members from New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Illinois and other states attended.
The group included, among others, state legislators Marco Crespo, Gustavo Rivera and José Serrano, Jr. (New York), Victor Torres (Florida), Minnie González (Connecticut) and Angel Cruz (Pennsylvania).
Independently, the National Puerto Rican Agenda – comprised of elected officials as well as some fifty organizations from the diaspora -, also agreed to support the call for the release of López Rivera.
On May 29, the 73 years old López Rivera will mark the 35th anniversary of his arrest and imprisonment in U.S. prisons, having been convicted in 1981 of sedition and other charges due to his membership in the clandestine independentista group the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN).
Bearing in mind that his punishment has been disproportionate, the leadership of all the political parties in Puerto Rico, governor Alejandro García Padilla, the Puerto Rican legislature, and religious, civic and union leaders have supported the request that president Obama grant him clemency.
As part of the agreements, a Freedom Concert will take place in Washington, as well as a mobilization to support López Rivera, in Lafayette Park across from the White House, at some point during the month of September.
“It’s the first concrete thing the caucus of elected officials agreed to,” stated Gutiérrez, indicating that the recognition of Puerto Rico’s colonial situation by the Congress and the White House make it even more absurd to keep López Rivera in prison.