By Oscar López Rivera
Published Tuesday, January 13, 2015
This past January 4 there was a celebration of my birthday in San Sebastián, my hometown. I have not visited my town for 40 years and can only imagine and visualize the changes that have taken place in order for “El Pepino” to become a town where I would receive so much praise. Today, when I got up, my first thought was how such a celebration in my town, as well as other acts of solidarity, are a source of hope and strength for me.
Throughout the past 33 years, every act of solidarity that I have received, whether it be a letter or an activity held by the Human Rights Committee of Puerto Rico, the National Boricua Human Rights Network, 32xOscar, or the Women of the Bridge, has allowed me to experience and celebrate life even in the most damaging and dehumanizing prison conditions. These expressions of solidarity have made it possible for my spirit to survive – they still have not managed to kill my spirit – and have allowed me to contribute my grain of sand for the just and noble cause of the independence and sovereignty of our beloved Homeland.
Upon writing these lines I am thinking of our comrade Norberto González Claudio, his beloved family, and our great extended family, the Puerto Rican family. Indeed, the great Puerto Rican family, as Don Rosendo Matienzo Cintrón called it. I hope that Norberto is released this January 15 and that upon his return home he is received as the hero he is. This celebration would have even greater significance because we also celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King on the 15th, as well we should. Yes, we have hope that Norberto will return home to enjoy life in his country, united with his family.
I am also thinking about the Puerto Rican youth, the young Puerto Ricans in the diaspora, and the greatness that they have demonstrated through their solidarity work. What they did at the University of Puerto Rico, their walk from San Juan to San Sebastián, the struggle that they are carrying on within the University, and how this guarantees that the future of our Country is in their hands. I feel profoundly grateful. They are in my heart and mind, knowing that Puerto Rico will be the Puerto Rico that it needs to be, the Garden of Eden.
I would also like to take advantage of this opportunity to mention a few issues that I think need to be addressed as part of our plans for the future. We know that the best of what we want for Puerto Rico will be achieved in the future. We have learned from the past, especially from the errors committed since 1898, when our beloved land was invaded, militarily occupied, and turned into a colony of the US. We should see ourselves as a people on our feet in the struggle for Puerto Rico to be a strong and sovereign nation, free from relying on the pittances tossed to us by the colonizer and free of being preyed on by the vultures and mafiosos of Washington and Wall Street who rob us of freedom and keep us forever in debt.
We should see ourselves as absolute owners of our future and our destiny. We know that to love and defend our Homeland is priceless, but if we lose it, the cost will be a disaster. If we do not want to lose our Homeland, first we have to create a united front, and second, develop Puerto Rican strategies that can be developed for decades into the future.
We cannot continue operating as have the last 116 years, which have kept us mired in colonialism. We have to fill our own think tanks to develop and implement the strategies that are necessary to survive and construct the Eden-like Puerto Rico that we know we can be. We have the necessary resources to do it but we have to dare to think outside of the traditional box. We have to dare to struggle. We have to dare to achieve our objectives. We have to dare to win.
Upon concluding these lines and in the spirit of celebration of life, I want to express again my gratitude to all the Puerto Ricans who had the courage, the vision, the compassion, the hope, and the love to struggle for Puerto Rico be a free and sovereign nation, and who left us the legacy of continuing their example. I also want to express to all the good Puerto Ricans the same gratitude for the solidarity they have demonstrated to me.
Without this aforementioned solidarity, I don’t know how I would have managed to maintain the mental and spiritual strength to survive the conditions that I have had to confront in prison for all these decades. All those acts of solidarity for me will not be in vain. So, stay strong, do not lose faith or the courage to struggle. Celebrating also in the spirit of the struggle of our comrade Juan Santiago Nieves, I send you a hug and my love,
In resistance and struggle,
Oscar López Rivera