Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mayors Association requesting liberation of Oscar López Rivera

Mayors Association requesting liberation of Oscar López Rivera
December 20, 2010
by Juan A. Hernandez

Mayors from across the island signed a petition Sunday for the release from prison of pro-independence activist Oscar López Rivera.

The petition, dubbed the "Comerío Statement", was signed by members of the Puerto Rico Mayors Association, who characterized López Rivera’s incarceration as “ideological punishment.”

“It is high time for this brother, whose only crime is his activism in favor of Puerto Rico’s independence, to come back home to his family,” Comerío mayor Josean Santiago said.

The petition states that López Rivera’s 70-year sentence makes him a political prisoner whose conviction is due only for being associated to a political and military organization that promotes independence for Puerto Rico.

In 1980 López Rivera was convicted of seditious conspiracy by the U.S. government because of his alleged involvement with the National Liberation Armed Forces (FALN for its Spanish acronym), a Nationalist group linked to several bombings and five deaths during the 1970’s.

López Rivera, born in San Sebastián, is a Vietnam era veteran and received a Bronze Star medal for meritorious service. Prior to his conviction López Rivera was a respected community activist and Puerto Rican independence leader in the city of Chicago.

Santiago’s involvement in the campaign for the release of López Rivera came last summer, when he met the prisoner’s brother José during a visit to Chicago.

“The Puerto Rican community there had dedicated their main festivities to Comerío and I was invited to the event. There I met José, who told me about his brother and the difficulties he faces in prison. It was hard for me not to feel sympathy for his sibling,” Santiago said.

“This Puerto Rican brother has spent 29 of his 67 years in a prison just for his beliefs. That is cruel and extreme punishment. It is time for him to come back home,” he added.

The petition will be sent to the president of the federal Parole Board, Isaac Fulwood. The petition reiterates another sent in November by U.S. Congress members Luis Gutiérrez (Ill), Nydia Velázquez (NY) and José Serrano (NY) --all born in Puerto Rico.

“We have to put aside all political considerations. This is a matter of humanity ? I’m confident thaat with the support of these Congress members, along with the support of our Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi there is a good chance for us to have Oscar back home with us soon,” Santiago said.

Congressman Gutiérrez, who is visiting the island during the holidays, anticipated he will present the petition to the new Congress next Jan. 4th.

“I’m convinced that conditions are favorable for Oscar’s release thanks to the support of the Resident Commissioner and the Puerto Rican community,” Gutiérrez said.

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