by Michael Rodriguez Muñiz, National Boricua Human Rights Network, Chicago Chapter

The Campaign to Free Oscar López Rivera took 35 years of work. Every single second that Oscar was in prison there were individuals and groups involved and invested in his freedom. Last week that steadfast work pushed President Obama to extend an offer of clemency to Oscar. Several days later, on Sunday, January 22, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and the local chapter of the National Boricua Human Rights Network hosted a closed event to thank key local supporters. Filling the main gallery of the Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, over 100 individuals heard touching messages from two family members of Oscar, José López (brother) and Clarisa López (daughter), Oscar’s longstanding lawyer and advocate, Jan Susler, and Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, who played an instrumental role in the campaign. A standing ovation was given to Alejandro Luis Molina for his decades of solidarity. A commemoration was also made for those supporters that passed away before Oscar’s clemency. Cultural performers included Jessica Fuentes, Casandra Figueroa, and Michael Reyes, and a delicious Puerto Rican meal was donated by Nellie’s Restaurant. The campaign is now beginning to make preparations for Oscar’s welcome home celebration in May