Oscar Rivera to visit Cuba in November

ICAP | Friday, 19 May 2017 | Click here for original article

Fernando Gonzalez speaks to Oscar Rivera

Fernando Gonzalez speaks to Oscar Rivera

Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar López Rivera, who was released on Wednesday 17 May after more than 35 years as a political prisoner in the United States, will visit Cuba in November to personally thank the people who took part in the struggle for his release. The news was given in a telephone conversation between the Puerto Rican patriot and Fernando González Llort, President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with Peoples (ICAP), during a jubilant meeting with more than 200 people at the organisation's headquarters, where numerous acts in support of this cause have taken place over the years.

Fernando, who spent four year's as Oscar's cellmate while imprisoned in Terre Haute prison in the US himself, spoke to him by telephone in front of the ICAP audience who were holding a celebration to mark his release. "Brother, how are you, good to hear your voice again! ", he exclaimed before discribing the celebration that was taking place.

He expressed everyone's emotion at knowing that the Puerto Rican hero was finally free following his militancy for the independence of his beloved homeland, and that he would be welcomed with joy and love when he visits Cuba in November.

In this same place, on previous occasions I announced that on this terrace we would see you enter victorious someday, because we were always sure of the victory, of your cause, which is the cause of the independence of Puerto Rico, Fernando added.

Oscar replied by sending a greeting to Cuban and expressing his gratitude for their support for his case.

At the end of the call, Fernando asked: "Do you hear the applause and exclamations of all here?", while the audience continued a loud ovation and repeated "Viva Oscar!".

Remembering the time spent together in the prison and the feeling of sincere brotherhood and camaraderie between them, Fernando, smiling, told Oscar to take care of himself and to not forget to continue making bars "and rice with pigeons".

About Oscar Lopez Rivera (from Liberation News)

Oscar Rivera, age 74, spent nearly 37 years in prison — 12 of which were spent in solitary confinement. He is one of the longest-imprisoned political prisoners in the world. He was imprisoned for Puerto Rican liberation activism in the U.S. Because of the length and severity of his sentence and treatment, in 2015, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro even offered a prisoner swap, proposing the release of U.S. -backed ultra right-wing opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez in exchange for López Rivera’s freedom.

López Rivera was born in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, but moved to Chicago at a young age with his family. He became a community leader in Chicago, organizing around health care, education, unemployment and campaigns to free political prisoners. He helped found the Rafael Cancel Miranda High School (now the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School), a specialized halfway house for people struggling with substance abuse.

As a member of the Puerto Rican Marxist-Leninist organization Las Fuerzas Armadas de la Liberacion Nacional — FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation, FALN), Oscar López Rivera became very active in the struggle for Puerto Rican independence inside the belly of the beast. In 1975, his organization was forced underground due to extreme persecution by the U.S. government. Five years later, in 1981, the FBI captured López Rivera and his comrades. López Rivera was sentenced to 55 years for many charges, including seditious conspiracy.

López Rivera has always been and continues to be a principled and inspirational leader in the fight for freedom from U.S. colonialism. In 1999, he was offered clemency by the Clinton administration, but turned it down because it was not extended to his comrades. Today, he promises to continue the struggle for Puerto Rican liberation — and also to stand in solidarity with other movements.

He states:

“I want to explain why I am wearing black today. First, because during the years I was in prison, I was never able to dress in mourning when loved ones died. Second, because it is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and I want to express my solidarity with that community.

“Third, I want to express my solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Fourth, because my message is, and it will be, one of love, not of hatred or fear.

“Fifth, I want to express my solidarity to all political prisoners in U.S. jails, and with Ana Belen Montes.
Sixth, I want to express my solidarity with the students at the University of Puerto Rico.

“I say: Long live the students, long live the LGBTTIQ community, long live the struggle for a better and more just world! Long live Puerto Rico of love and liberty! In resistance and struggle always.”

Message from Raul Castro
Cuban President, Raul Castro, also sent a message welcoming his release. It read:
Dear fellow Oscar
I send fraternal congratulations on behalf of the Cuban Party, Government and people, who share the joy of your liberation. History will not forget your steadfastness and loyalty to the cause for the independence of Puerto Rico, which is essential for Our America. We are waiting for you in Cuba, when possible, with the honors and affection you deserve.
A hug,
Raúl Castro Ruz

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