Friday, January 16, 2015

Maduro calls for prisoner swap: Free Oscar Lopez Rivera!

Recently, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro sent an offer to swap far-right opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez in exchange for Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera, who has been locked up in U.S. federal prisons for 33 years.

Leopoldo Lopez was arrested in February after he helped lead a three-month campaign of violent opposition demonstrations attempting to incite a coup against Maduro. But as a true act of international solidarity, President Maduro is willing to release this dangerous criminal to secure Oscar Lopez’s freedom.

“The only way I would use (presidential) powers would be to put (Leopoldo Lopez) on a plane, so he can go to the United States and stay there, and they would give me Oscar Lopez Rivera—man for man,” Maduro said during a televised broadcast on Jan. 3.

Oscar was born in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, but at a young age moved with his family to Chicago. Growing up in Chicago, he emerged as a community leader who organized around education, health care, unemployment, and campaigns to free political prisoners. He helped found the Rafael Cancel Miranda High School, now known as the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School, a half-way house for convicted drug addicts and much more.

As a member of the Puerto Rican Marxist-Leninist organization La Fuerza Armadas de La Liberacion Nacional – FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation, FALN), Oscar Lopez became very active in the struggle for Puerto Rican Independence from within the belly of the beast. In 1975, the organization was forced underground, and after five years the FBI captured him and his comrades in 1981. Oscar was sentenced to 55 years for a number of charges including seditious conspiracy.

This struggle against the existing U.S. colonial rule over Puerto Rico and the right of the Puerto Rican people for self-determination is something that we stand firmly behind. And President Maduro’s offer is a reflection of this same international solidarity for freedom fighters around the world.

In 1999 then-President Bill Clinton actually gave an offer of clemency to Oscar Lopez, but he turned it down because he did not want freedom if all his comrades were not free with him—showing a continued commitment to his valves and the fight for liberation of his people.


1 comment:

José M. López Sierra said...

Should criminals be in charge of correcting the wrong they inflicted?

Puerto Ricans vote in elections every 4 years at an 80% level of participation. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States (US) government for the past 116 years. If the US government has the final say in what happens in Puerto Rico, what is the purpose of these elections? The purpose is to fool the world that Puerto Rico is a democracy.

The United Nations (UN) declared colonialism a crime against humanity in 1960. The UN has asked the US government 33 times to decolonize Puerto Rico immediately. The US government has refused. It says that Puerto Rico’s political relationship with the United States is none of the UN’s business. The US says that it is a domestic affair.

To appear that the US government wants to decolonize Puerto Rico, it promotes the use of plebiscites to determine what Puerto Ricans want. Doesn’t that sounds innocent and democratic? So what’s the problem?

To begin with, the international community already rendered its verdict and determined that colonialism is illegal. So to have a political status option in a plebiscite that favors maintaining Puerto Rico a colony of the United States is not permitted. To have a political status option of Puerto Rico becoming a state of the United States is also not permitted under international law. The problem goes back to the beginning of this article. In order to have free elections, the country must be free. So before these elections and plebiscite could be valid, Puerto Rico would have to first be an independent nation.

What people must realize is that Puerto Rico is a colony of the US because the US government wants it that way. That is why it has used terrorism to keep it that way. That is why it refuses to release the Puerto Rican political prisoner of 33 years Oscar López Rivera. That is also why it is ridiculous to believe that decolonization is a US internal matter in which the UN has no jurisdiction over. If we allow the US government to decolonize Puerto Rico, she will remain a colony of the United States forever!

José M López Sierra