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“And in spite of the fact that here the silence from outside is more painful than the solitude inside the cave, the song of a bird or the sound of a cicada always reaches me to awaken my faith and keep me going.” (Oscar López Rivera)
Oscar López Rivera is turning 69 years old. He was born on Three Kings Day in San Sebastián. On May 29, 2012 he will mark the 31st anniversary of being a political prisoner in United States prison. With the enormous sensibility that characterizes his life, Oscar López Rivera presents us with a unique experience of the meaning and martyrdom of prison for the spirit of a political prisoner: “The dehumanization and pernicious existence that I’ve suffered since I’ve been in prison … is the death and annihilation of the spirit… this gulag was a maze of steel and cement constructed to isolate and incapacitate… We know that sensory deprivation and the denial of creative activity causes the spirit to wither and die. That’s exactly what the jailers are trying to do keeping me here. … In the case of those of us who are prisoners for loving and defending our Homeland, the U.S. government hasn’t the slightest excuse to hold us under such pernicious conditions … I am confident that I’ve chosen to serve a just and noble cause where that security resides. A free, democratic and just Homeland represents a sublime ideal which is worth struggling for. … I’m in this dungeon and the possibilities that I will be released are remote if not impossible, under an existence the same or worse than animals caged in the zoo under physical and spiritual attack but with complete dignity and with my conscience clean and clear. … The memory of our pain is worthy of being appreciated, remembered, and never buried … Even though from afar, all those times when you celebrate together, I enjoy them vicariously.”
(“Between Torture and Resistance,” Luis Nieves Falcón, 2011).
In effect, the prolonged imprisonment of Oscar López Rivera violates the principles and prevailing norms that prohibit inhumane, cruel and degrading treatment. The imposition of disproportionate sentences that result in being locked away for decades violates the most elemental norms of coexistence and civilization.
We must recall that the International Court of Justice has ruled, in the matter of United States diplomatic and consular personnel in Tehran, that “the fact of abusively depriving human beings of their freedom and subjecting them to physically cruel punishment is manifestly incompatible with the principles of the United Nations Charter and with the fundamental rights articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” (Passed on May 24, 1980, ICJ, Reports, 1980, par. 91).
The fundamental human rights which are absolute and cannot be abolished under any circumstance, including some of those expressed in the Universal Declaration, comprise the essential nucleus of human rights, “… expression … of a universal juridical conviction: rejection of barbarism.”
Time passes very slowly but inexorably witnesses Oscar’s presence as an indictment of colonialism and the brute force of the empire. And it is that those who struggle from the very depths of the spirit cannot go unnoticed.
Oscar’s life is summarized in his unconditional love for this homeland that has led him to sacrifice his life and that of his family in defense of the dignity and sovereignty of his people. He has taken every possible risk, the penalty and pain of prolonged imprisonment, torture, psychological assault, events that have not been able to break his free will.
Thus, today we venerate the patriot and recognize his bravery, temperament, valor, tenacity, clarity of purpose and unconditional love for this historic community. Oscar: spaces of light will open so that you will see and speak to us. We will sow the land of liberty. We will listen together to the sound of the birds and the water. We will paint with you to free the soul.
We will embrace in solidarity the oppressed and the needy. We will share life from the perspective of justice. We will be fierce defenders of the truth. We will never give up the cause our ancestors were committed to. Because we are convinced that your voice, your actions, your silence, your sacrifice and your vital energy maintain the pole from which the flag of the homeland will fly.
By Juan Santiago Nieves (Attorney)
Translated by Jan Susler People’s Law Office