by Sammy Vega
Ed. Note: Crime Against Humanity actor Samuel Vega was recently able to visit Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera. The play is based on a series of extensive interviews with the Puerto Rican political prisoners excarcerated by President Clinton in 1999. What follows is a short reflection.
I get to the prison. As I walk toward the entrance guards from the watch tower make sure nothing looks suspicious. All the while I hope that nothing stops this historical visit from taking place. After all it took 4 hours to get there. We get in. Registering and metal detection takes 10 minutes. It’s 10:05 A.M. When we got into the visiting room I noticed the clock was thirty minutes ahead marking 10:35 A.M. Apparently this is done to shorten people’s visits. We are assigned a seat. As I looked around the visiting room Black and Latino men sharing smiles with their visiting families filled the room. The little girls wrestling with their father dressed in his khaki uniform was hard to bear.
Doors open and out comes Oscar. Just like in the pictures except he might have dyed his hair grey. I don’t know if I was seeing things but Oscar had a little limp when he walked, a cool limp. That caught me off guard. Oscar’s coolness didn’t end there. I introduced myself and we began talking about the play, Crime Against Humanity. He laughed when I told him I recited his monologue because we look nothing alike. He was amazed to hear that the shows have been so successful that unfortunately people have had to stand up because they are so packed. He was glad that people are learning about his story through theatre.
After several hours of getting to know Oscar and hearing him joke around with us, visiting hours were just about over. You want to just take Oscar with you but you can’t. It was tough to just leave and go back to wondering what Oscar is doing at this moment. For three hours I knew what he was doing. He was sitting down talking to me and telling me his life’s story as he sipped on a cup of coffee. The complete article is available at: