years and Ten or 70 years was the total prison sentence handed down to Puerto
Rican independence activist Oscar López Rivera, whose sentence has just been
commuted by President Obama in his final days in the Oval Office.
Rivera is due to be released in May this year and is now 74 years old.
found guilty of “seditious conspiracy” in 1981, effectively making him a political
prisoner, when working for Puerto Rican independence as a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN)
and was accused of “undermining US rule” on the island. He was given a sentence
of 55 years. Seven years later he received a further 15 years for conspiring to
escape from prison. His release date would have been 2051 at the age of 108
sentence can be interpreted as being influenced not only by the accusations of
transporting arms and explosives over state lines but was imposed at the height
of the Cold War. The FALN was a Marxist–Leninist militant group which fought to
transform Puerto Rico into a communist state.
despite the group’s militancy and bombing campaign in mainland US, López Rivera
did not kill or bomb anyone. Since his arrest in 1977, he has spent more than
half of his life behind bars and more time in jail than Nelson Mandela who was,
in fact, classified as a terrorist by the South African apartheid regime.
imprisonment for this long period, he spent twelve years in solitary confinement
which is standard practice by the US “humanitarian” prison regime in order to
break a prisoner’s spirit and impose punishment rather than rehabilitation. For
those twelve years he was forbidden to speak or have contact with anyone and
was confined to sitting on a concrete bed with a latrine for company.
Logic Editor, Les Blough, will certainly understand what López Rivera had to
endure as he was a prison guard in Tennessee and Pennsylvania for many years.
President Nicolás Maduro of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela brought up the
case of López Rivera in a television broadcast and drew the attention of the
Venezuelan public to his unusual punishment and unjust plight. Maduro proposed
a prisoner exchange – López Rivera for convicted murderer Leopoldo López who
had recently been convicted for 14 years in Venezuela. As was to be expected,
his offer was met with a stony silence by US authorities.
On several occasions
President Maduro has called for Puerto Rican independence and has even
suggested that the island could become a member of CELAC (Confederation of
Latin American & Caribbean States) from which the US and Canada are
– as well as Cuba – and their independence from colonial rule was always a
project The Liberator Simón Bolívar had in mind. But since he died when just 47
years of age in 1830, time was not on his side to liberate either of these
Caribbean islands from Spanish imperial rule. Cuba finally achieved its independence in 1959
thanks to Fidel’s revolution but Puerto Rico, since 1898, is still under US
control even though it is officially called an “Associated Free State of the
USA”. It is ruled by US laws, paying IRS taxes but the population, even though
they have been US citizens since 1917, cannot even vote in US Congressional
done little good for the world or humanity in his eight years as president but
the decision to commute López Rivera’s sentence by half using his attributions
as President is at least a tiny glimmer of light in the darkened cell of his hypocritical
an international and interactive press conference, President Maduro thanked
Obama for commuting López Rivera’s sentence and is looking forward to meeting
him and shaking his hand when he is finally liberated.
certainly happen as the Cuban Five who also spent many years unjustly condemned
in the US prison system, also came to Venezuela after their release.
following video from Democracy Now! published in 2013 when López Rivera had
been in jail for 32 years gives a comprehensive background on the soon to be
released prisoner and reminds us of all of the extreme prison sentences imposed on
people who dare oppose or stand up to US hegemony especially in its “back
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