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Vol. 81/No. 22      June 5, 2017


Oscar López in Chicago: US colonialism is a crime

CHICAGO — “I have struggled against colonialism because it is a crime against humanity,” Oscar López Rivera told more than 500 people who gathered in Humboldt Park here to welcome him back to Chicago May 18. “The Puerto Rican people have a right to struggle for their freedom.”

The celebration included a parade, renaming a street to honor López and the Humboldt Park rally.

The Puerto Rican independence fighter was released from 36 years of imprisonment the day before. López lived here before his arrest, fighting to improve conditions in the Puerto Rican community and promoting independence for Puerto Rico, a U.S. colony.

“The big U.S. corporations go to Puerto Rico,” López told the rally. “They leave their waste and take the wealth out of Puerto Rico.” And now Washington “has imposed the fiscal control board,” which is demanding huge attacks on the working people of the island.

“It’s an accomplishment of the Puerto Rican people, men and women around the world, that none of our political prisoners had to die in prison,” he said. The fight continues to win freedom for many fighters for Black rights and other political prisoners still imprisoned in the United States, López explained.

News coverage of the celebration played up the presence of one individual who held a sign calling López a “terrorist,” and another who attempted to disrupt the unveiling of the street sign. This is part of a government-inspired countercampaign to smear López and the fight to end Washington’s colonial domination.

López pointed to the “terrorism used against Puerto Ricans” by the FBI and other police agencies over the years. The FBI has admitted to carrying out a disruption campaign against the movement for independence — both in Puerto Rico and the United States — dating back to the 1930s. They have released some of the more than 1.5 million pages of spy files they gathered with information on some 75,000 people dubbed “political subversives.”

Speakers at the events included Rep. Luis Gutierrez; Alderman Roberto Maldonado; José López, executive director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and Oscar’s brother; and Danette Sokacich, principal of the Pedro Albizu Campos High School, named in honor of the historic leader of the fight against U.S. colonial rule. Dozens of students from the school, which López helped found in the 1970s, attended the event.

Local participants in the May Day International Brigade to Cuba joined the parade, carrying a banner reading “End the U.S. economic war against Cuba now! U.S. out of Guantánamo now!”

“Oscar never broke and kept his humanity,” Edwin López, who came from Milwaukee, told the Militant. “He’s an inspiration to many.” Some people came from as far as Orlando, Florida.

Laura Anderson from Chicago contributed to this article.
Related articles:
‘Fight to end US colonial rule over Puerto Rico!’
Oscar López is free! Begins Puerto Rico, US tour
Socialist Workers Party brings solidarity to Puerto Rico
Oscar López schedule
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