The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda — a coalition of 40 Latino organizations, including the U.S.-Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement — added its voice to the fight to win the release of Oscar López Rivera Dec. 16.
The coalition wrote President Barack Obama to urge him to commute López’s sentence “to release him from custody.”
López has been imprisoned in the United States for 35 years. His crime? Fighting for independence for the U.S. colony of Puerto Rico. Born in Puerto Rico, the son of a small farmer, López moved to Chicago when he was 14. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Vietnam in 1966.
Upon his return to Chicago — impacted by the Cuban Revolution, the rise of the Black struggle and his own experience in Vietnam — López joined struggles for bilingual education, against police brutality, to oppose hiring discrimination at construction and utility sites, as well as the fight to free Lolita Lebrón, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Irving Flores, Andrés Figueroa Cordero and Oscar Collazo, Puerto Rican political prisoners jailed in the U.S. since the 1950s. By 1979 all five had been released.
In 1980, 10 people were arrested and accused of belonging to the Armed Forces of National Liberation of Puerto Rico, which in the mid-1970s took credit for bombing businesses with investments in Puerto Rico. López, accused of being a leader of the group, was arrested the next year.
The frame-up charges included “seditious conspiracy,” as well as possession of unregistered firearms. López was not accused of involvement in a single act of violence.
He was convicted and sentenced to 55 years in prison. An additional 15 years were added in 1988 after he was framed up on charges of conspiracy to escape. He was kept in solitary confinement for more than 12 years.
“His sentences for seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to escape are patently disproportionate,” the Nattional Hispanic Leadership Agenda wrote. Join the fight to win freedom for Oscar López.
Write him at: Oscar López Rivera, #87651-024, FCI Terre Haute, P.O. Box 33, Terre Haute, IN 47808. Call the White House every Friday at (202) 456-1111 to tell Obama to release López.
On Jan. 8, the Human Rights Committee of Puerto Rico is hosting an event in Ponce, Puerto Rico, to celebrate López’s 74th birthday. The featured speaker will be Cancel Miranda.
On Jan. 11 East Coast supporters of his fight for freedom will be protesting in front of the White House in Washington. For more information visit: www.boricuahumanrights.org.