Saturday, February 04, 2012

Response to Daily News attack on Oscar López Rivera

A Response to the New York Daily News
Perpetuating False Charges on the 1975 Fraunces Tavern Bombing

By Jan Susler (January 26, 2012)

Oscar López Rivera, a 69-year-old decorated
Vietnam veteran, has spent 31 years in U.S.
prison for his commitment to the independence of
Puerto Rico. He has the dubious distinction of
being the longest held pro-independence prisoner
in Puerto Rico's history of seeking
self-determination - and thousands preceded him.
Convicted of seditious conspiracy in Chicago, he
is serving a sentence of 70 years, although he
was not convicted of harming or killing anyone.

If you read the New York Daily News article
published this year on January 24th, on the 37th
anniversary of the bombing of Fraunces Tavern,
you wouldn't know this . . . and you would be
left with the impression that López Rivera should
remain in prison because he is somehow
responsible for that tragic action. That is,
sadly, what the FBI has led the victims to
believe, and it is most certainly the weapon
wielded by the FBI in its unceasing efforts to
convince the public, the U.S. Parole Commission,
and the President, that López Rivera should remain in prison.

López Rivera has denied participation in the 1975
tragedy at Fraunces Tavern. There is no evidence
to connect him to it. If the FBI had such
evidence, it would surely prosecute him - but in
the 37 years since, it has not. Instead, it has
waged a campaign of guilt by association, using
its bully pulpit to prolong his imprisonment, and
thereby punish him for his commitment to the independence of Puerto Rico.

In fact, during his 1981 trial for seditious
conspiracy, López Rivera presented no defense in
court. Prosecutors risked little, if anything, in
charging him on this case. They did not charge
him - again, because there simply is not a shred
of evidence that could even remotely link him to
the Fraunces Tavern event. The New York Daily
News has done its readers - and more importantly,
truth and justice - a great disservice by
implying there is somehow some kind of link
between López Rivera and this case, a link that
somehow has mysteriously eluded prosecutors, the
courts and the FBI for more than 31 years.

A campaign for the release of López Rivera and
his co-defendants, which enjoyed broad support
throughout Puerto Rican civil society and among
the international human rights and faith
community, resulted in President Clinton's 1999
offer to commute the sentences of most of them.
Most were offered immediate release, but López
Rivera would have to serve an additional 10 years
behind bars. The others accepted the president's
offer, were welcomed as returning heroes in
Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican communities in the
U.S., and for the past 12 years have lived
productive, law-abiding lives. Out of concern
that the President's offer did not include all
those in prison for their commitment to
independence , López Rivera rejected the offer.
Had he accepted, he would have been released in
September of 2009. Those excluded from the
president's offer have since been released -
López Rivera is now the only one still in prison
from the Chicago seditious conspiracy cases of the 1980s.

That campaign continues to advocate for López
Rivera's release from prison. Recent activities
in Puerto Rico include mass demonstrations during
President Obama's June visit to the Island,
calling for his release - and elected officials
personally asking the President to release him -
; on the occasion of López Rivera's 69th
birthday, the Catholic Archbishop presiding over
a mass, and a gathering of representatives from
every sector of civil society calling for his
release; and students painting murals featuring
his face and the message "Freedom Now!" for López Rivera.

In the proud United States tradition of
exercising the constitutional power of pardon,
three U.S. Presidents have commuted the sentences
of Puerto Rican political prisoners: President
Truman in 1952, President Carter in 1979, and
President Clinton in 1999. President Obama should
not be fooled by the FBI's campaign of untruths.
For more information about the campaign for Oscar
Lopez Rivera's release, contact the National
Boricua Human Rights Network at

Jan Susler, a partner at the People's Law Office
in Chicago and member of the National Lawyers
Guild, has been working as attorney for the
Puerto Rican political prisoners for the past 30
years, and was lead counsel in the campaign
leading to the 1999 presidential commutation. She
continues to work with those who remain in
prison. She can be reached at 773-235-0070 x 118


José M. López Sierra said...

Greetings Partner,

We need to work together to decolonize Puerto Rico and free Oscar López Rivera. Join 2 peaceful protests until it is accomplished!

Un abrazo,

José M. López Sierra said...

¿Deben los criminales estar a cargo de corregir los daños que hicieron?

Los puertorriqueños votan en las elecciones de cada 4 años a un 80% de participación. Puerto Rico ha sido una colonia del gobierno de Estados Unidos (EEUU) por los últimos 116 años. Si las decisiones para Puerto Rico se toman en Washington DC, ¿para qué son las elecciones? Estas elecciones son para engañar al mundo que Puerto Rico es una democracia.

La Organización de Naciones Unidas (ONU) declaró el colonialismo un crimen en contra de la humanidad en el 1960. La ONU le ha pedido 33 veces al gobierno de Estados Unidos que descolonice inmediatamente a Puerto Rico. EEUU ha ignorado estas peticiones. EEUU dice que la relación política entre Puerto Rico y Estados Unidos es un asunto domestico que no le compete a la ONU.

Para aparentar que el gobierno de EEUU quiere descolonizar a Puerto Rico, EEUU favorece el uso de plebiscitos para saber lo que quiere los puertorriqueños. ¿No te parece eso suena inocente y democrático? ¿Cuál es el problema?

Para empezar, la comunidad internacional ya tomó juicio y determinó que el colonialismo es ilegal. Por lo tanto, tener como opción en un plebiscito que Puerto Rico continúe siendo una colonia no es posible. Tampoco no es posible tener como una opción que Puerto Rico sea un estado de Estados Unidos. La razón tiene que ver con el comienzo de este artículo. Para tener elecciones libre, el país tiene que ser libre. Para que estos plebiscitos tengan validez internacional, Puerto Rico tiene que ser un país independiente primero.

Lo que la gente tiene que entender es que Puerto Rico es colonia de EEUU porque el gobierno de EEUU lo quiere así. Por eso ha usado el terrorismo de estado para mantenerla. Por eso no quiere excarcelar al prisionero político de 33 años Oscar López Rivera. Y por eso es que es ridículo pensar que la descolonización de Puerto Rico es un asunto interno de EEUU, y que la ONU no tenga jurisdicción en la misma. ¡Si nosotros dejamos que el gobierno de Estados Unidos descolonice a Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico será colonia de EEUU para siempre!

José M López Sierra

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