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Issue #1717      February 3, 2016

Oscar Lopez Rivera, Puerto Rican Political Prisoner

Urge President Obama to Pardon Oscar

“I don’t have any blood on my hands. I haven’t victimised anyone. And I’ve devoted most of my life serving a just and noble cause and struggling to help make this world a better and more just one,” Oscar Lopez Rivera, in a February 2011 letter.

For over 32 years Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera has been imprisoned in the United States for his activities in support of freedom and independence for his country, the island of Puerto Rico.

Oscar Lopez Rivera was arrested on May 29, 1981 and accused of seditious conspiracy. He was later sentenced to 70 years in prison. He has now served 33 years in prison, 12 and a half years of that in total isolation. These harsh conditions did not break Oscar’s spirit, which they were seemingly intended to do. He remains a strong and principled man despite his long ordeal. But despite the lengthy time served Oscar still remains in prison.

Oscar was not accused or convicted of causing injury or taking life. During his presidency President Clinton stated that Oscar Lopez Rivera’s sentence was disproportionately lengthy and that Oscar should be released in September of 2009. Oscar’s co-defendants were released as a result of the 1999 Clinton clemency and are now productive, law-abiding citizens, fully integrated into civil society. The other of Oscar’s remaining co-defendants, Puerto Rican political prisoner Carlos Alberto Torres was released in July 2010.

Oscar has the support of a broad section of Puerto Rico’s civil society, as well as the Puerto Rican and Latino communities across the USA. The decision to keep him in prison ignores the express will of the Puerto Rican people and those who believe in justice and human rights, including the tens of thousands of voices supporting his immediate release.

Among these many ignored voices are, the Puerto Rican Governor, members of legislatures of the United States Congress; the state legislatures of New York, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania; the city councils and county boards of many locales in the US and Puerto Rico; the mayors of many towns in the US and Puerto Rico.

Also the Association of Mayors of Puerto Rico; bar associations including the Puerto Rico Bar Association, the National Lawyers Guild and the American Association of Jurists; clergy and religious organisations, including the Ecumenical Coalition representing every religious denomination in Puerto Rico; human rights advocates, academics, students, artists, community organisations and workers.

The United States government consistently demands that other governments, in order to establish their democratic credentials, release political prisoners in their custody. The US’s conduct is totally inconsistent with what the US demands of other governments. The White House has recently proposed to initiate a process to resolve the status of Puerto Rico. A true process of self-determination under international law should be accompanied by the goodwill gesture of releasing of political prisoners. This is an essential step towards a positive resolution to the Puerto Rican situation.

Together we can make a difference to ending this gross injustice. Help publicise this worthy cause and support the ongoing international campaign demanding the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera. We need everyone to continue to write letters, post on your websites, Facebook and tweet. We need to continue to apply the pressure. We can make a difference and your calls and letters will have an impact. Please act to help Oscar. Request that President Obama grant Oscar clemency and pardon him.

“His sentence, far too excessive, violates the most elemental principles of humanity, sensitivity and justice.” Puerto Rican Governor and Attorney Alejandro Padilla. October 2014.

Next article – Flint water protest

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