4 March 2011

Parole Denied for Puerto Rican Independence Fighter

Free Oscar López Rivera!

We reprint below a February 12 letter from the Partisan Defense Committee to the U.S. Parole Commission demanding the release of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. López Rivera was denied parole on February 18 and remains incarcerated in the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The Partisan Defense Committee joins those across the country and around the world calling for the release of Oscar López Rivera. Mr. López Rivera is a principled and courageous political prisoner who was convicted of seditious conspiracy in 1981 for struggling for the independence of his native Puerto Rico. After moving to the mainland as a youth, he was drafted into the Army where he served with distinction. He became a well-respected community activist in Chicago, where he fought for bilingual education and an end to anti-Latino discrimination in education and public utilities.

Mr. López Rivera has now been incarcerated for nearly three decades, subjected to the oppressive conditions in maximum security prisons in Marion, IL, and then Florence, CO. He has described his situation as being enclosed like a zoo animal in a cell eight feet wide by nine feet long for an average of 22 hours a day. This cruelty must end now.

In 1999 Mr. López Rivera was one of many Puerto Rican political prisoners who was offered conditional clemency by then President Bill Clinton. But he rejected the chance to reduce his sentence out of solidarity with Carlos Alberto Torres and Marie Haydée Beltrán Torres, two of his compañeros who were not included in the clemency offer.

As has become the norm for the continued incarceration of political prisoners, Mr. López Rivera has been accused of showing no “remorse” or “contrition.” Mr. López Rivera has no reason to apologize for his part in the struggle for Puerto Rican independence. The people of Puerto Rico have every right to demand an end to the more than a century of colonial oppression meted out by the United States of America. We demand that Oscar López Rivera be released immediately and unconditionally.

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 975, 4 March 2011)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.