NiLP Guest Commentary
The Freedom of
Oscar López Rivera:
A Decolonizing Experience
By Ana M. López
The NiLP Network (May 25, 2017)
"It is one thing to speak about a national hero of Puerto Rico, and another to have him by your side to receive a revolutionary embrace. That, my people, is our Oscar López Rivera!"
- Ana M. López
Weeks back when this controversy began against the National Puerto Rican Parade for bestowing, rightfully so, the title of "Prócer de la Libertad" upon our national hero Oscar López Rivera, Angelo Falcón asked me to write ofor The NiLP Report about Oscar López Rivera since we have been in the forefront struggling to free him for 36 years.
After attending Oscar's welcoming event in Puerto Rico at the end of his house arrest with an ankle bracelet celebrating his freedom from US gulags for almost 36 years, I needed to feel and see the patriotic fervor of our people to transmit it in this writing. It is a decolonizing experience that sends a patriotic injection straight to our hearts and minds.
Then I needed to write a critical point of view why some of these corporate sponsors of the National Puerto Rican Parade have decided to drop their support of this 60th anniversary of the parade on 5th Avenue. I can see clearly the parallels here in how the unjust Fiscal Control Board (imposed in an undemocratic way on Puerto Rico) is imposing austerity measures and is torturing Puerto Rico by the shameful arrogance of these ex-sponsors.
These corporate entities want to impose their will on the National Puerto Rican Parade board, twist their arms, impose an economic embargo, but this board has a smart conscience that is principled and patriotic and committed to servicing and empowering the Puerto Rican people and its diaspora. We cannot allow corporate sponsors to intimidate and dictate policy to Puerto Rican institutions that have emerged from the people and community struggles. There is a total disregard that many of these corporate donations were geared for student scholarships. Who are they hurting? Students!
But we believe that there is a purposeful right-wing force, call it the FBI, US imperialism, behind this attempt to smear the stature of Oscar López Rivera and his importance to the Puerto Rican Nation, Latin America, and its allies. The media, corporates entities, the American families and even a Puerto Rican musician's smears are based on misinformation and factual inaccuracy about Oscar. We know Oscar is free now from a 70-year sentence and all the attacks raised by them are really irrelevant.
Oscar has acquired a place in our anti-colonial struggle for self- determination, and independence. He has a role to play in this decolonization process, which by the way has already begun. We saw how in our quest to preserve human rights and defend our land base of Vieques, we successfully drove the US Navy out of Vieques, an island municipality of Puerto Rico in 2001. The US Navy bombed Vieques for 60 years in its held war games with a civilian population residing there that is "state terrorism."
We freed 14 Puerto Rican Political Prisoners in 1999 (President Clinton's commutations) and now Oscar López Rivera, the last political prisoner of the 1980s was released by President Obama's commutation of his sentence on January 17, 2017.
We can list all the atrocities the US has committed on the Puerto Rican people in the last 118 years of their colonial violence and dominance, (but that is another article).
Oscar has become a symbol of resistance, perseverance, hope, love and most important "freedom" in these present times when the Puerto Rican people, the university students, and the workers are fighting and resisting with fervor the atrocities imposed by the Fiscal Control Board. (See demonstration in thousands in the "Paro Nacional" held on May 1, 2017).
Be part of Puerto Rico's decolonization process and join us to Welcome Oscar to NYC Celebratory event at Hostos Community College on June 8, 2017 at 7 pm. (Buy your tickets online
). See announcement below. We will have the largest contingent in the parade for Oscar. Join Us!
On May 22, 2017, we held a press conference in 32BJ union hall led by the chants "We stand by the Puerto Rican Parade, Oscar Lopez is our hero today!", "Oscar Lopez Rivera is our Mandela!" and "Oscar Lopez Rivera, Si, Junta, NO!". The New York Coordinator to Free Oscar issued a statement for the National Puerto Rican Parade conferring the title of "Freedom Hero." (see below)
na M. López is the spokesperson of the NY Coordinator to Free Oscar, lead organizer of Welcoming Events, a member of the 35mujeresnycXOscar and is an assistant professor of Latin American studies at Hostos Community College. She can be reached at ALOPEZ@hostos.cuny.edu.
Statement in Support of the
National Puerto Rican Parade of NYC
Bestowing National Hero
Oscar López Rivera
the Title of "PROCER de la LIBERTAD"
The National Puerto Rican Parade of NY has been in existence for 60 years and has represented the Puerto Rican Diaspora, affirming the Puerto Rican identity, history, culture, music and diversity of voices. The National Puerto Rican Parade advocated the release of Oscar López Rivera, a 74 year Puerto Rican political prisoner charged with "seditious conspiracy" who was supported by Puerto Ricans from across the political spectrum and by international religious and human rights leaders, including His Holiness Pope Francis. After almost 36 years in US prison, 12 of which were spent in solitary confinement, President Barack Obama granted Oscar - who despite false claims was neither charged with nor convicted of any activity resulting in death or injury - full executive clemency. Obama's act followed the advice and previous actions of Presidents Jimmy Carter and William Clinton, in addition to the urgings of dozens of heads of state and peace leaders, from the United Nations Decolonization Committee to South African Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Over the past five years, millions have joined - through petitions, emails, tweets, demonstrations, prayer vigils, and contingents in the Parade - the
call to speak with "One Voice for Oscar," proclaiming him "the Nelson Mandela of the Americas." The National Puerto Rican Parade's choice to confer upon Oscar Lopez Rivera the title of "Prócer de la Libertad" is a consequence of this widespread and diverse popular movement. The National Puerto Rican Parade has an indelible right to make such a choice, reflective of the vast majority of sentiment of the Puerto Rican people on the island and in the Diaspora.
We, the undersigned stand by the National Puerto Rican Parade bestowing upon Oscar López Rivera the title of "Prócer de la Libertad:
List of individuals and organizations
(list is in formation)