Two new initiatives announced last week look good as a starting point for the indispensable unity the Puerto Rican people need in these crucial moments of our history. In the long run, it is impossible to predict their reach, but these processes that pursue unity of purpose and common and concerted action toward a goal are always positive, as our previous experiences have shown, in the struggle to oust the United States Navy, first from Culebra and then from Vieques, and more recently in the popular efforts to paralyze the projects to build the gas pipelines from the south and the north of Puerto Rico. That is why at CLARIDAD we welcome these two new and urgent fronts of struggle, which aspire to motorize the widest will of the Puerto Rican people, in Puerto Rico as well as in the Puerto Rican diaspora in the United States, to achieve the broadest political and human rights for our people. The new Coalition for the Freedom of our political prisoner Oscar López Rivera is an embracing attempt to unite all efforts toward this goal, maximizing the collective voice of the Puerto Rican people, here and there, so that the president of the United States, Barack Obama, hears our demand and, before his presidential term expires in January of 2017, orders the release of the patriot who has already served 35 years in prison in the United States. The work of the Coalition, whose spokesperson is the former Secretary of State of Puerto Rico and the distinguished environmental activist, engineer Ingrid Vila Biaggi, and which includes a full spectrum of organizations and personalities that represent the political, human rights, civic, labor, environmentalist, religious, artisticcultural sectors, as well as several exgovernors of Puerto Rico and every gubernatorial candidate, proposes to converge in a great mass act under the theme Free Oscar López Now: The Event, to take place on October 9 in the U.S. capitol, Washington, D.C. It is extraordinary that Oscar hasn’t been released yet, when all his compañeros and compañeras have been released and are fully integrated as productive and exemplary citizens in their respective communities in Puerto Rico and the United States. It seems as if the government of the United States wanted to dump on Oscar all the hate they feel over the fact that even after 118 years of colonialism, the Puerto Rican people haven’t assimilated or gotten scared, and keep resisting and fighting the aggressions and intentions of the most powerful empire in the world. That is why this new Coalition is necessary, to reinforce the struggle until Obama listens to us and he gives us Oscar so we can bring him home. The other front of struggle opened last Saturday, with the convening of the First People’s Assembly against the Fiscal Control Board, at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum, under the theme “to fight and disobey,” a demand that thousands of Puerto Ricans came to, representing the broadest sectors of Puerto Rican society. According to Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, ex-president of the Bar Association of Puerto Rico and one of the conveners of the event, the purpose was to present a plan of action and approve a declaration of purpose to direct the strategies to follow to fight the so-called Board, an openly colonial organism imposed by the United States Congress, with powers to make decisions over and above the elected government of Puerto Rico, and whose principal objective will be to assure the payment of debt to the vulture investors before offering essential services to the people. The first strategy of the recently created group, which again unites Puerto Ricans from the Island and those in the diaspora, will be a demonstration in front of the federal court in Hato Rey on the day the United States Senate considers the measure, which is expected to take place in the next few days. Both new efforts of mobilization and action are extremely important and necessary, given the crucial moment our country is living. We must then set ourselves with the best of wills so that the organizers and leaders guarantee every group and sector the maximum representation and democracy. Thus, even with our diversity, we will be able to achieve the proposed objectives. Obama needs to listen to us hard so that he finally releases Oscar. The United States government and the members of the Fiscal Control Board need to feel our rejection most vehemently to this new colonial maneuver which favors the powerful and which is contrary to the best interests of our people.
Originally published in Claridad on Wednesday, June 29, 2016