Óscar López Rivera: "I hope to leave this place unharmed" | The NY Times

He has just served 34 years in prison , but the Puerto Rican political prisoner, Óscar López Rivera, said that, with the help of President Barack Obama , he hopes to leave the prison , to "kiss the earth" just to return to the island.

López Rivera, years old, purges a 70-year sentence in the US after being sentenced for sedition for his links with the now-defunct group Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN)

In an exclusive telephone interview with this newspaper, López Rivera said that he was aware of the acts of solidarity of the last days to demand his release, and described his future plans for when he finally set free.

That's if Obama gives you the request for cleme

Otherwise, and if no other president is involved in the White House, the political prisoner with the longest time in an American jail would have to wait until 2023 to be released on parole.

Although victims of FALN violence oppose their release, most Puerto Ricans support it.

López Rivera:

Q: Did you follow the weekend acts to demand your freedom? so I learned what was happening in Puerto Rico and New York. They gave me a 'play by play' of the walk in Puerto Rico, of the march in New York. In Puerto Rico they walked in the rain, almost celebrating the rain, and I could hear the slogans. I also spoke with several of the women who meet in Puerto Rico (the last Sunday of each month) to support me.

Q: What has been the most difficult thing about life in prison

LR: good energies and good vibes. The hardest thing for me has been to maintain the family ties, that distance between the family and one.

Also the separation with the people, because I always worked with the community, something that I really enjoyed. Prison is a hostile, dehumanizing environment that robs us of our human fiber, but I struggle not to institutionalize myself: I maintain a routine, a busy schedule, because I do not want to give my time to jailers. I read a lot - reading is a sacred time - drawing, writing letters, exercising, and always looking for links with my family, with people outside.

Q: Do you keep in touch with your family?

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LR: I maintain good communication with my daughter, with my family.

I was 12 years and 4 months (when I was in solitary confinement), where I could only have two 15-minute calls a month, and for me daughter the cost of traveling from Puerto Rico to visit me where it was was very high. The communication with my mother, with the family, was very limited.

My granddaughter was seven when I could hug her for the first time.

Q: Do you think President Obama will give you clemency before he leaves the presidency?

LR: I live for hope, I have never lost it. If (Obama) believes in justice, if he pays attention and studies my case, he can offer clemency.


I do not like illusory optimism, but I do not like it.

First, I will kiss my land; I have been a long time away from my town.

I need my family, I need rice with pigeons, tostones ... ah and avocado.

I also want to work in several long-term projects. I would like to work to forge the unity of the Puerto Rican diaspora and Puerto Rico. That we do not see ourselves as two separate groups, the 3.5 million in Puerto Rico and the 5 million in the US, but as a single force, because we have a big heart and we are compassionate, and that we must cultivate it.

Q: You have been compared to the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, and he has undergone a transformation in the jail. What has been yours?

L.R .: I can live with a clear conscience. I am a veteran of war, I was in Vietnam, and I consider that human life is very sacred. I condemn the death penalty then, how can I support violence?

Mandela's struggle against the racist regime must be contextualized, what he did and the evolutionary process he had, since he was imprisoned 27 years until he was released in the 1990s. He changed radically (he abandoned the armed struggle), but he also managed to fight for the rights of the black population ... the government ended up yielding to the pressures.

of the fight in Vieques. The Puerto Rican people managed to get the US Navy out of Puerto Rico without resorting to violence and I think that indicates that there has been a change.

Q: How do you see the current crisis in Puerto Rico ?

Puerto Rico is not in a position to pay the debt but human capital is the most precious thing we have, and if people are forced to emigrate, they lose the dynamics of the people, of the national identity. That worries me.

Puerto Rican political discourse needs to be overcome, to go with the truth ahead, to be a healthy, ethical discourse and to consider the dignity of the people. as a nation we have to transcend the colonizing mentality, to work for national reconciliation, for unity, to work on the country project.

Q: What is your message for the Puerto Rican people? I am deeply grateful for the solidarity that has been expressed to me by all of them, and I am deeply grateful to them. I want to continue fighting for my country, for my people.

I keep my head up, and hope to leave this site unharmed.

  • Adam Floyd