On May 29, 2001, Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera marks 30 years in prison in the United States. As was true with other imprisoned patriots before and now, even their jailers recognize that they aren’t common prisoners, that their conduct has been governed by a cause of conscience that for him is more valuable and transcendent than his own freedom, and even than his own life: the cause of the independence of Puerto Rico.
The fact that there have been, and still are, men and women disposed to suffer persecution, prison, torture and even death, to obtain freedom for their people, is something that challenges all human logic and confers a superior moral character on these men and women disposed to such a great sacrifice. Only freedom can convene such a degree of vital commitment.For those who have chosen this path, freedom isn’t discussed; it’s taken and enjoyed as an inalienable and fundamental human right. That is the great lesson that our people has received from its patriots and political prisoners, who Oscar López Rivera has embodied for 30 years in an exemplary way. His stature and that of the other combatants for our national independence has been growing in the imagination of our people, in the same way that the U.S. government has been mercilessly treating him, as well as the González Claudio brothers Avelino and Norberto, just as it was previously merciless with Carlos Alberto Torres and their other compañeros and compañeras, and even before as they were with Lolita Lebrón and Oscar Collazo; with Rafael Cancel Miranda, Irvin Flores and Andrés Figueroa Cordero, among many others. The case of Oscar López Rivera is unique for several reasons. He is the Puerto Rican political prisoner who has served the longest time in prison in the United States and is probably also the longest held political prisoner in our hemisphere. Additionally, his excessively lengthy imprisonment is the product of his jailers’ twisted logic. While the United States government claims to give lessons on freedom, democracy and human rights to the rest of the world, it has held Oscar López Rivera in prison for 30 years, denying him, under the rules of the very system it so staunchly defends, the right to parole and requiring him, in an arbitrary and inhumane way, to serve an additional 12 years in prison. The United States government has a responsibility to Puerto Rico which, to date, it has refused to fulfill. Their armed forces mounted an invasion here in 1898, by virtue of which our nation was militarily intervened and our right to decide our own political destiny subjugated — a situation that has lasted to date. That is the principal offense for which it must respond, and the reason for which Puerto Rican independentistas have waged a struggle for 113 years, and during which thousands of Puerto Ricans, Oscar López Rivera among them, have paid an enormous share of sacrifice. Now, Oscar López Rivera’s release from prison depends on the decision of the president of the United States, Barack Obama, who has in his hands the opportunity to emulate other U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and pardon the Puerto Rican veteran. Obama, first Afro-North American to achieve this position, knows by his own experience the difficult path that must be followed to overcome prejudice and discrimination. For this reason, and for an elemental sense of justice and fair play, it is his duty to release Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera without further delay, and return him to the heart of the Homeland he belongs to and to which he has offered his life.
Claridad salutes our patriot Oscar López Rivera, thanks him for his life-long valor and sacrifice, and reiterates that we will continue to be committed to achieving his freedom, sooner than later. We urge the broadest sectors of the Puerto Rican people to participate in this purpose of humane justice.