January 5, 2011
NBHRN report on Puerto Rican political prisoner
Oscar López Rivera’s parole hearing
What happened today
On Wednesday, January 5, after a remarkably
biased and tainted parole hearing, U.S. Parole
Commission hearing examiner Mark Tanner announced
he would recommend that Puerto Rican political
prisoner Oscar López Rivera be denied parole, and
that he either be held in prison until his
mandatory release date in 2023 or serve another
15 years before being reconsidered for parole,
whichever comes first.
Oscar was brought to the hearing handcuffed to a
chain around his waist. His attorney Jan Susler’s
protestations were overruled, with prison staff
asserting the warden had ordered the highly
unusual measure. Eight Bureau of Prisons
personnel constituted an exaggerated and intentionally
Over the vehement objection of Oscar’s attorney,
Tanner entertained live testimony from four
people he characterized as “victims” — a wounded
survivor and family members of people who died in
the 1975 explosion in New York’s Fraunces Tavern
— even though Oscar was never accused or
convicted of anything related to the explosion.
Susler, noting that the Puerto Rico Bar
Association had petitioned for observer status at
the hearing, but that the Parole Commission
failed to respond to the request of that
venerable institution, vehemently objected to the
observer status of retired FBI agent Donald
Wofford. Tanner overruled her objections.
Tanner provided Susler a 7 page letter from
Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, a
political diatribe opposing parole, listing acts
unrelated to Oscar and unsupported conclusions
about his role in the clandestine movement.
Tanner first interrogated Oscar about his role in
the offense, insisting that he admit or deny his
guilt and, further, that he talk about his role
in the FALN, the seditious conspiracy, and the
conspiracy to escape. Insisting that Oscar was a
leader, Tanner was not interested in Oscar’s
recounting of his own history of having been
drafted into the infantry to fight an unjust U.S.
war against the people of Vietnam. He was equally
uninterested in Oscar’s recounting of the history
of repression of and violence against the
independence movement, as well as the history of
the Bureau of Prisons’ sting operations and false
accusations against him.
Tanner demonstrated more interest in what the
“victims” had to say, and paid close attention to
their misinformed vitriol and name-calling spewed
Susler attempted to bring Tanner’s attention to
the matter at hand, reciting the criteria for
release on parole and demonstrating how the
evidence proved that Oscar meets the criteria:
1) that in the past 20 years of prison, he has
not been accused of a violating a single prison rule;
2) that his release would not depreciate the
seriousness of the offense or promote disrespect
for the law; and 3) that release would not jeopardize
the public welfare.
She pointed out President Clinton’s determination
in 1999 that Oscar’s sentence was
disproportionately lengthy and that his offer of
clemency would have resulted in Oscar’s release
in September of 2009. She focused Tanner on the
fact that the political prisoners released as a
result of the Clinton clemency are productive
citizens, fully integrated into civil society.
She noted the Parole Commission’s decision to
release Carlos Alberto Torres in July of 2010.
And she recited in detail the support for his
release from virtually the entire civil society
in Puerto Rico, drawing Tanner’s attention not
only to the support letters from thousands of
people, but noting the support from the
pro-statehood resident commissioner to the U.S.
Congress who represents the close to 4 million
people of Puerto Rico.
Oscar’s statements and those of his lawyer fell
on deaf ears. While Tanner admitted that Oscar
had the best possible Salient Factor score, and
that he had served 356 months, which he
characterized as “way beyond” the guidelines
minimum requirement of 100 months, he
nevertheless announced his negative
recommendation. Susler immediately responded that
such a recommendation ignored the express will of
the Puerto Rican people and their supporters.
The recommendation denying parole was the goal of
the right wing, which in the few days prior to
the parole hearing, created an environment of
lies and innuendos in the media, reminiscent of
the right wing reaction to the 1999 clemency.
They barraged the Parole Commission with phone
calls opposing parole. However, when Oscar’s
supporters called, the Commission stopped answering
Plan of action
The NBHRN will be mounting a campaign to ask the
Parole Commission to reject Tanner’s
recommendation and to order Oscar’s release on
parole. We will be asking people to:
* collect signatures on a new letter to the
Commission (to be provided soon), thinking more
broadly in terms of different sectors to approach;
* phone the Commission with messages of support for
* thank the elected officials, religious and
community leaders for their support and encourage
them to write another letter to ask the
Commission to reject the recommendation and to order
* form delegations of influential people to ask
for meetings with the Commission;
* write to Oscar and express support.
The NBHRN is scheduling a nat'l conference call
for this weekend. We will be sending a follow up
email shortly afterwards.
Thank you all for your work on behalf of the
Network and Oscar López Rivera. Together, we will free him..
English translation follows Spanish
Duro reves para un prisionero politico boricua
Recomendarán que cumpla más aZos de cárcel
López Rivera fue llevado a la sesión de ayer
encadenado y custodiado por ocho funcionarios de
la penitenciaría. (Archivo / AP)Por José A. Delgado / email@example.com
6 enero 2011
WASHINGTON - “Estoy preparado para lo que venga”.
Así reaccionó ayer el prisionero político
puertorriqueZo Oscar López Rivera, según su
abogada Jan Susler, al escuchar a un oficial
examinador anunciar que le recomendará a los
miembros de la Junta Federal de Libertad Bajo
Palabra que cumpla entre 12 y 15 aZos adicionales de cárcel.
Mark Tanner, oficial examinador de la Junta
Federal, encabezó ayer en la prisión de Terre
Haute (Indiana) una sesión en que se pasó revista
a la petición de López Rivera, de 67 aZos, para
que se le otorgue libertad bajo palabra.
López Rivera, convicto en 1981 de “conspiración
sediciosa” por sus vínculos con el grupo
clandestino independentista Fuerzas Armadas de
Liberación Nacional (FALN), ya ha cumplido 29
aZos y nueve meses de cárcel de una sentencia de 70 aZos.
Pese a que el entonces presidente Bill Clinton le
otorgó clemencia en agosto de 1999 -la cual en
aquel momento López Rivera rechazó-, el oficial
examinador convirtió la sesión, de acuerdo con lo
narrado por Susler, en un debate sobre el
atentado de la FALN en contra del Fraunces Tavern
de Nueva York, ocurrido en 1975 y en el que murieron cuatro personas.
“Si hubiesen tenido evidencia en su contra le
hubiesen acusado por esos sucesos”, dijo Susler,
enojada por la determinación del oficial
examinador de darle foro en la sesión a familiares
de víctimas de ese atentado.
Las propias normas de la Junta indican que el
oficial examinador debió centrarse en asuntos
como si López Rivera reconoce la gravedad de su
ofensa, si ha tenido buena conducta y si su
liberación representaría una amenaza “para el
El ex agente del Negociado Federal de
Investigaciones (FBI), Donald Wofford, quien se
ha opuesto a la liberación de miembros de las
FALN, estuvo también en la sesión, pero no habló.
“El interrogatorio del examinador parecía el de
un agente del FBI”, sostuvo Susler, a quien le
habían indicado que el oficial conduciría la
audiencia por videoconferencia desde Maryland.
López Rivera fue llevado a la sesión encadenado y
custodiado por ocho funcionarios de la
penitenciaría. “Se hizo todo un espectáculo”,
En los últimos días sectores conservadores,
encabezados por el comentarista Dick Morris, han
estado en campaZa en contra de la excarcelación
de López Rivera, quien este aZo puede convertirse
en el prisionero político puertorriqueZo que más
tiempo ha estado encarcelado, superando a su
colega Carlos Alberto Torres, liberado el verano
pasado después de 30 aZos.
Susler indicó que la Junta Federal de Libertad
Bajo Palabra puede reunirse en marzo y entonces
aceptar o rechazar la recomendación del oficial
A arreciar la lucha
“Ahora hay que incrementar la campaZa”, dijo
Susler, al indicar que López Rivera está
entusiasmado con el fuerte apoyo que ha recibido
de diversos sectores de la sociedad
puertorriqueZa, incluido políticos como el
comisionado residente Pedro Pierluisi,
congresistas, alcaldes y líderes religiosos.
Para Susler, lo más duro fue ver cómo el oficial
examinador “ignora la voluntad del pueblo de
Puerto Rico” a favor de un prisionero político
que ha estado ya tres décadas privado de su libertad.
Si la Junta Federal de Libertad Bajo Palabra
rechaza la excarcelación inmediata de López
Rivera, su próxima oportunidad sería en 15 aZos.
Pero, el oficial examinador reconoció que si la
conducta de López Rivera es “buena” -como lo ha
sido durante las últimas dos décadas según el
propio Negociado de Prisiones-, tendría derecho a
ser liberado en el 2023.
Tough reverse for a Puerto Rican political prisoner
Parole Commission will recommend more time in prison
By José A. Delgado / firstname.lastname@example.org
January 6, 2011
WASHINGTON - “I’m prepared for whatever comes.”
That was the reaction yesterday of Puerto Rican
political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, according
to his attorney Jan Susler, on listening to a
hearing examiner announce that he would recommend
to the members of the U.S. Parole Commission that
he serve between 12 and 15 more years in prison.
Mark Tanner, the U.S. Parole Commission’s hearing
examiner, convened a hearing yesterday in the
Terre Haute (Indiana) prison, to review the
request of López Rivera, 67 years old, for release on parole.
López Rivera, convicted in 1981 of “seditious
conspiracy” for his connection to the clandestine
independentista Armed Forces of National
Liberation (FALN), has already served 29 years
and nine months in prison of his 70 year sentence.
In spite of the fact that former president Bill
Clinton granted him clemency in August of 1999
which at the time López Rivera rejected the
hearing examiner converted the hearing, according
to Susler, into a debate over the FALN’s 1975
bombing of FrauncesTavern in New York in which four people died.
“If they had evidence that Oscar was involved in
that bombing, they would have accused him of
participating,” said Susler, angry at the hearing
examiner’s decision to provide a forum at the
hearing to family members of those who died in the bombing.
The Commission’s rules provide that the hearing
examiner focus on issues such as whether López
Rivera accepts the seriousness of his offense, if
he has good conduct in prison, and if his release
would pose a threat to public welfare.
Former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
agent Donald Wofford, who has opposed the release
of FALN members, was also at the hearing, but he did not speak.
“The hearing examiner’s questioning seemed like
what an FBI agent would ask,” maintained Susler,
who had been told that the hearing examiner would
conduct the hearing by videoconference from Maryland.
López Rivera was brought to the hearing in chains
and was monitored by eight prison officials.
“They put on a show,” Susler denounced.
In the last few days, conservative sectors, led
by the commentator Dick Morris, have waged a
campaign against the release of López Rivera, who
this year could become the longest imprisoned
Puerto Rican political prisoner, surpassing his
colleague Carlos Alberto Torres, who was paroled
this summer after serving 30 years in prison.
Susler indicated that the U.S. Parole Commission
may meet in March and then accept or reject the
recommendation of the hearing examiner.
The struggle will get stronger
“Now we must augment the campaign,” said Susler,
indicating that López Rivera is enthused by the
strong support he has received from various
sectors of Puerto Rican society, including
politicians like resident commissioner Pedro
Pierluisi, members of Congress, mayors and religious leaders.
For Susler, the hardest part was to see how the
hearing examiner “ignored the will of the people
of Puerto Rico” who support a political prisoner
who has already spent three decades deprived of
If the U.S. Parole Commission refuses to
immediately release López Rivera, his next
opportunity for parole will be in 15 years.
But the hearing examiner recognized that if López
Rivera’s conduct is “good” as it has been
during the past two decades, which even the
Bureau of Prisons admits he would have the right
to release in 2023.