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GUTIERREZ SAYS: OBAMA #FREE OSCAR LOPEZ RIVERA NOW SUPPORT OCT. 9 UNITY EVENT IN D.C.

Posted on 04 August 2016 by Kevin Garcia

Mr. Speaker,

I will not be on vacation or traveling on junkets to far-off lands during the next 6 or 8 weeks that Congress is on recess. Because I am involved in the campaign to Free Oscar López Rivera from incarceration. Oscar López Rivera is regarded as the last political prisoner from Puerto Rico that is still being held in federal prison. Oscar is a friend and a mentor and at 73 years old, he is not beaten or broken or sad, as you can see from his smile. Even after spending 35 years in jail, nearly half of his life, he is a hero to many people in Puerto Rico and throughout the Puerto Rican diaspora. It warms my heart that people from every walk of life now understand that the 35 years Oscar has served for crimes that were not violent is long enough. That there is a groundswell of support to tell President Obama that after 35 years, it is time to let Oscar Lopez Rivera come home to his family, his Island, and his community. Ya basta. 35 years is enough. And this comes from people of every political background, conservative and liberal, statehooders and Populares and independentistas. And every generation from the youngest, hippest kids like Residente of Calle 13 to old people like me. From the richest to the poorest, whether you live in Bayamon, Ponce, Orlando or Chicago, New York City – the Puerto Rican people are united in our call to free Oscar López Rivera. Internationally, Bishop Desmond Tutu is with us. And a long list of Nobel Peace Prize winners have joined the campaign to free Oscar López. World leaders and community leaders and average people across Europe, Latin America and the world. Oscar López is a decorated Vietnam War veteran. Screenshot 2016-08-04 11.09.54A father, a teacher, a mentor, a friend. There is no blood on Oscar’s hands. Yet he has languished in federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana for three and a half decades. President Obama has less than 200 days left as President and the chorus of supporters for the freedom of Oscar Lopez Rivera will continue to call on the President every day to release our brother Oscar back into our community so he can live out his days in peace and with his family. And commutation is the only option. It will be a minimum of ten years before Oscar can talk – just talk – to a parole board. It is now or never and President Obama holds all the cards. We can’t allow Oscar to die in jail. Obama must commute his sentence. A coalition, La Coalición por la Liberación de Oscar López Rivera, has formed with lawyers, union leaders, elected officials, community leaders, citizens from every walk of life in Puerto Rico and whertever Puerto Ricans live around the United States. And the coalition just announced a unity event, a gathering in Lafayette Square across the street from the White House on October 9, 2016. So, Mr. Speaker, when the Congress leaves here this week for six weeks or more, I am not going on a vacation, I am working to build awareness about Oscar Lopez and build awareness about October 9 in Washington. El nueve de octubre en Washington. We all have to show up and show our support for Oscar and his family. So, I will be in Lorain, Ohio this weekend, in Philadelphia and New Jersey later this month, in Puerto Rico, in California, and wherever I go I will be telling people to come to Washington to show support for Oscar López Rivera on October 9, 2016. You live in New York? It is about a 3 and a half hour drive to D.C. Oscar López has been in jail for 3 and a half decades, so I don’t want to hear your excuses. October 9 is a Sunday, so if you live anywhere up or down the Eastern Seaboard, you can go to the sunrise service at your church and still make it in time to show your solidarity with Oscar. You live in Chicago or Orlando, okay, it will take you longer, you might even have to pay for a hotel or an airplane ticket, but your Boricua nation needs you to represent. I ask everyone who is watching today or who sees my remarks on-line to commit yourselves to joining me and others in Lafayette Square on October 9 in Washington, DC. It is up to us. It is up to you. President Obama has done so much to address injustice, to address unfair prison sentences for non-violent offenses, to address the inherent injustice that all too often characterizes our system of justice – and I thank him and praise him for that. But in this case, with this elder statesman of the Puerto Rican diaspora, for this non-violent, exemplary inmate, for this father and war hero…For Oscar López Rivera we respectfully say: Ya Basta. Free Oscar López Rivera.

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OSCAR IN GREECE THE “PUERTO RICO OF THE MEDITERRANEAN”

Posted on 04 August 2016 by Kevin Garcia

By Dr. Deborah Santana June 2016 was an intense month for sharing internationally about the campaign for the release of Oscar López Rivera from prison, and for the current struggle of Puerto Rico against US colonialism and the so-called “debt crisis.” This was especially true in Greece, where interest in Puerto Rico has grown ever since the German finance minister joked to the US treasury secretary that they could trade Greece for Puerto Rico, two “de facto’ colonies currently being strip-mined by vulture capitalists with the “debt crisis” as the excuse. I was invited to present about Puerto Rico at the “Resistance Festival” in Athens, held in June for the past nine years. This event combines seminars about Greek and international struggles against colonialism and capitalism (with a particular emphasis on political prisoners), with a cultural festival featuring artisans, literature, music, dance and food. A primary sponsor is the weekly newspaper Dromos Tis Aristeras (Way of the Left), which has covered Puerto Rico in general, and Oscar’s case in particular, even before the current crisis. We worked together to organize a protest outside the US embassy in Athens, as part of the International Day of Solidarity with Oscar, on June 20th. Finally, I was also invited to participate in the Mayday Festival, held in Crete two weeks earlier than the Resistance Festival. The Mayday Festival was a local affair, held in the city park of Irakleio, the island’s largest city. As I was the only international presenter, there was a great amount of interest in Puerto Rico and in Oscar. We had a table and bulletin board with copies of letters from Oscar, as well as information in Greek and English and a petition. Dozens of people attended the seminar where I spoke about the history and current situation of Puerto Rico, including the context for our political prisoners. Most people expressed amazement at the similarities between Puerto Rico and Greece, particularly in how the debt “crisis” is manipulated in order to justify austerity and privatization schemes. Greece also has a history of political prisoners, and the people are very aware of similar struggles in countries such as Euzkadi (Basque), Turkey, and Palestine, so they were very sympathetic to our campaign for Oscar. They also expressed outrage that Puerto Rico’s story is hardly known internationally, and asked how they could support us. In addition, Kriti Radio (the most popular radio station in the city) interviewed me, and they expressed an interest in doing more interviews about Puerto Rico and Oscar. Link to video of seminar at the Mayday Festival: http://bit.ly/greece-maydayfest Link to audio of Radio Kriti interview: http://bit.ly/radio-kriti-interview Back in Athens, planning for the Solidarity Day event presented particular challenges, because of extreme divisions among the Greek left. This is in part due to the betrayal of the current government headed by the so-called “radical left” party Syriza, which has had the effect of demobilizing and demoralizing the already fractious progressive parties and organizations in Greece. June 20th was also a holiday in Greece, plus the temperature soared to 105 degrees on that day. Nonetheless, we were able to attract more than a dozen activists from several groups to our event across the street from the US Embassy. We also attracted the Greek police – who after checking our banners gave us less than a minute for our protest! So we scrapped our original plan for speeches in Spanish, English, and Greek, and limited ourselves to a few words from me in Spanish, with videos and photos. The newspaper will also continue to cover the campaign for Oscar’s release. Link to photos and videos of Athens event: http://bit.ly/June20-OLR The Resistance Festival is a very large threeday event, with both international and Greek participation on political, social and cultural issues. I was invited to speak at the opening ceremony. It was a great honor to share the stage with Figen Yükekdag, Member of Parliament for the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Turkey’s third largest party, which supports a secular, democrat, multiethnic and anti-imperialist Turkey, and which is under attack by the Erdogen government. We were able to share information on our respective campaigns to free our political prisoners; the participation by the HDP delegation was all the more important given the ongoing wars in the region, and particularly in light of the recent coup attempt in Turkey. Thousands of people attended the opening event, in great part because the keynote speaker was the great Leila Khaled, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and best known for hijacking two planes in the late 1960’s in an attempt to break through the media silence on the ongoing dispossession of the Palestinian people by Israel. The Resistance Festival had tried and failed to get permission for nearly a decade for Leila to visit, but this year finally succeeded – and she did not disappoint. Among many of the issues, she highlighted the dialectics of the need to struggle for both individual and collective liberation. This means among other things that the liberation of Puerto Rico and Palestine are connected to each other, as is the freeing of political prisoners, from Oscar to the thousands of Palestinians currently in Israeli jails. Link to my speech on Opening Night (in Greek): http://bit.ly/dsantana-opening-speech On Saturday night we held a seminar and discussion entitled “The empire strikes back? Latin America” with participation from Venezuela (the ambassador to Greece), Argentina, and Puerto Rico. As always, it was a privilege to be able to connect our struggle to the larger movements for independence and justice in Latin America, “la patria grande,”of which Puerto Rico is a much loved and needed member. I shared information and literature about the campaign to free Oscar in the table hosted by the Venezuelan embassy. In all venues I was repeatedly thanked for sharing our stories, and asked how people in Greece and elsewhere can contribute to the campaign to bring Oscar home. I hope that we can continue to expand our contacts and cooperation. ¡Libertad para Oscar ya! ¡Viva Puerto Rico libre!

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During 38th Puerto Rican Peoples Parade: Nancy Franco Maldonado’s life Celebrated- Orlando Victims Commemorated- Oscar López Rivera’s Freedom Demanded

Posted on 04 August 2016 by Kevin Garcia

Thousands of people gathered on Paseo Boricua on Saturday, June 18, 2016 to celebrate the life of our very own Nancy Franco Maldonado- who posthoumously served as the 2016 Grand Marshal; to remember the victims of the Orlando, Florida massacre under the slogan “Con Orgullo y Duelo”; to commemorate the 50th Anniverary of the Division Street Riots of 1966. The Parade was led by Ald. Roberto Maldonado and Nancy’s family, and included a large contingent of people in solidarity with those massacred in Orlando and demanding the release of Oscar López Rivera.

Screenshot 2016-08-04 10.54.28

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Colegio de Abogados promueve la Asamblea Constituyente de Status en Chicago

Posted on 04 August 2016 by Kevin Garcia

Por Redacción

Miembros de la comunidad puertorriqueña en Chicago y representantes del grupo Agenda Puertorriqueña (Puerto Rican Agenda) se dieron cita en la mañana del domingo, 17 de julio, en los altos del restaurante Nellie’s en el Paseo Boricua, para conocer más sobre la propuesta Asamblea Constituyente de Status, impulsada por el Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico como un mecanismo para la descolonización de Puerto Rico. Por ejemplo, si la Asamblea Constitucional de Status es aprobada, una de las medidas sería revisar la relación política entre Puerto Rico y Estados Unidos. Mark Anthony Bimbela y Alejandro Torres Rivera, el Presidente y el Vicepresidente del Colegio de Abogados, respectivamente, fueron los facilitadores de la charla. Ambos viajaron desde Puerto Rico para presentar esta charla y visitar a la comunidad puertorriqueña Screenshot 2016-08-04 10.45.12en esta ciudad, además de afinar detalles de próximas actividades a llevarse a cabo. Según Bimbela esta Asamblea es “la más democrática y permite que persona de todas las ideologías tengan una participación real en ese proceso, tengan algo que decir y elijan a esas personas que le representen.” “El propósito de esto (el taller) es ir elaborando una idea clara de cómo debemos entender la problemática de Puerto Rico dentro de un contexto no partidista. Este taller es un experimento, porque la idea es que lo que hagamos aquí, lo queremos repetir en distintas comunidades puertorriqueñas en Estados Unidos,” manifestó José López, director del Centro Cultural Puertorriqueño, ante el grupo de asistentes. López, además enfatizó sobre los próximos eventos a llevarse a cabo como parte de Agenda Puertorriqueña: el domingo, 24 de julio se llevará a cabo la Cumbre Nacional de la Agenda Puertorriqueña en Camden, New Jersey; además, ese mismo día tendrá lugar, en la ciudad de Philadelphia, la apertura de una exposición de arte de dos artistas puertorriqueños dedicada a Oscar López Rivera; y, el lunes, 25 de julio habrá un mitin para Puerto Rico y exigiendo la excarcelación de Oscar López Rivera en Philadelphia, cerca de la Convención Demócrata. Algunas propuestas de la Asamblea Constitucional de Status son:

• Para que resulte ganadora la propuesta se requiere el voto mayoritario en favor del mecanismo (el 50% más uno de los participantes en la elección).

• Durante sus deliberaciones y negociaciones, la Asamblea “sesionará independientemente del término del gobierno” y de la administración vigente.

• La Asamblea sesionará durante un término de cinco (5) años, salvo que el término se podrá prolongar si se encuentra en proceso de negociación con el Gobierno de Estados Unidos alguna propuesta aprobada por dicha Asamblea. De lo contrario, al cabo de los cinco (5) años, se haría una nueva elección de delegados.

• En la elección de los delegados deberá reconocerse la presencia y participación de los partidos políticos y la sociedad civil.

• La Asamblea estará compuesta por setenta y cinco (75) delegados de los cuales cuarenta (40) serán electos por representación de cada distrito representativo y treinta y cinco (35) por acumulación.

• Podrán nominar delegados los partidos políticos principales o por petición, las asociaciones, grupos y organizaciones, como también nominarse candidatos independientes. Ninguna persona podrá figurar simultáneamente como candidato por acumulación y por distrito.

• Los candidatos se agruparán por listados en cuanto a opciones de status. Los partidos políticos, grupos y organizaciones determinarán el número de nominaciones que presentarán.

• Si algún listado eligiera más del cincuenta y dos por ciento (52%) de los delegados, se añadirán delegados suficientes hasta reducir tal mayoría a 52%. Los delegados adicionales se repartirán en proporción a los votos obtenidos entre las demás nominaciones.

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‘José López Day’ declared in Holyoke in honor of activist’s visit to city

Posted on 07 March 2016 by Kevin Garcia

by Michelle Williams, MASSLive

HOLYOKE — For his work within and on behalf of the Puerto Rican community, activist Jose López was honored in City Hall Monday. During a press conference, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse declared March 28, 2016 “Jose López Day” with a mayoral commendation. López spoke at the Holyoke Public Library Monday evening about the Puerto Rican independence movement and identity outside of the island. He is the brother of Oscar López Rivera. In the 1980s, López Rivera was sentenced to 55 years in federal prison for an array of charges including seditious conspiracy. He was a member of the Screenshot 2016-06-08 13.17.06Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional, Spanish for the Armed Forces of National Liberation. The paramilitary organization advocated for the independence of Puerto Rico from the US. Now in his 70s still serving his sentence in an Indiana federal facility, López Rivera is called a political prisoner by supporters and a terrorist by those petitioning to keep him behind bars. López has advocated internationally for the release of his brother and is an expert on Puerto Rican identity in the U.S. The effort to advocate for his release has received support locally. Several buildings along Main Street feature drawings of López Rivera and call for him to be free. Ward 2 City Councilor Nelson Roman introduced a resolution at the start of the new term urging President Barack Obama to grant the immediate, unconditional release of López Rivera. “This is a Holyoke issue and is important to the Puerto Rican community,” Roman said Monday. “When it comes to Oscar, he is the Nelson Mandela of Holyoke.” López thanked Roman Monday for introducing the resolution, which is expected to be voted on next week. “The support of Holyoke, symbolically, is really important as it has the highest concentration of Puerto Rican people in the United States,” López told MassLive. He said that the Puerto Rican community has growing voter power across the country and that issues important to them must be considered by politicians running for local, state and national office.

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Pierluisi cree que Oscar López será de los últimos en ser indultados por Obama

Posted on 07 March 2016 by Kevin Garcia

Por Frances Rosario, Primera Hora

El comisionado residente en Washington, Pedro Pierluisi, opinó este miércoles que el momento idóneo para que el presidente estadounidense Barack Obama le conceda un indulto al preso boricua Oscar López es al final de este año, cuando culmine su incumbencia. “Pienso que un momento idóneo para que el presidente conceda la misma sería al final de su incumbencia. Ojalá así sea”, afirmó el también presidente del Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP) en una conferencia de prensa. La afirmación la hizo al reaccionar a los 61 indultos concedidos este miércoles por el presidente Obama a convictos por sustancias controladas, algunos de los cuales cumplían cadenas perpetuas. Pierluisi recordó que durante su incumbencia como comisionado residente ha realizado gestiones periódicas para lograr la excarcelación de López, quien lleva 34 años cumpliendo una sentencia por conspiración sediciosa. Recientemente, el actor boricua Lin Manuel Miranda cuestionó a Obama sobre el indulto del boricua y supuestamente el presidente le respondió que tenía el caso en su escritorio.

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Holyoke Council Unanimously Passes Resolution Calling On President Obama to Free Oscar López-Rivera

Posted on 07 March 2016 by Kevin Garcia

by David Thibeault-Muñoz, New England National Boricua Human Rights Network

On April 5, the Holyoke City Council UNANIMOUSLY passed a resolution calling on President Obama to free our beloved patriot’ Oscar Lopez-Rivera. Close to 100 residents rallied at the Salsarengue Restaurant in Holyoke, Massachusetts on Screenshot 2016-06-08 13.16.59Tuesday, April 5th in support of the resolution, proposed by Ward 2 City Councilor Nelson Roman. After several community leaders spoke passionately about the history of Puerto Ricans in the city and regarding the many problems facing the community, organizers made a convincing case for why the City must support this resolution on behalf of Holyoke’s Latinos. Following the rally, residents marched to City Hall, where the Council would vote on the resolution, chanting “Libertad!” “Para Oscar!” and “Hey Obama Listen to Me, We Want Oscar Lopez Free!”. Of the nineteen people who signed up to speak during public comment, seventeen spoke on behalf of the resolution to free Oscar. Following public comment, the Council suspended the rules to discuss and vote on what the people came to hear, what the people came to witness. Many of the Councilors, during discussion, brought up their experience with Jose Lopez’s recent visit to the city and two of the cities Irish councilors raised connections between the Irish immigrant experience and Irish struggle for independence to the experience of Puerto Rican migrants and the Puerto Rican independence struggle. After several weeks of opposition from a handful of vocal councilors, about how the City Council shouldn’t vote on “matters not pertaining directly to the city” and on negative comments about Oscar that aren’t worth repeating, the Council voted unanimously – 13-0 to support the resolution. The people have spoken. The people have been heard. Congratulations to Councilor Roman and the Puerto Rican/Latino residents of Holyoke, and to all who supported the resolution. Libertad Pa’ Oscar!

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Puerto Rican Independence Supporters Rally in Times Square to Free Man Imprisoned for 34 years

Posted on 07 March 2016 by Kevin Garcia

by Andy Mai As Published in NY Daily News, Sunday Feb. 28, 2016.

Supporters behind a movement for Puerto Rican independence rallied in Manhattan Sunday urging President Obama to free a prisoner who has been in jail nearly half his life over the issue. Nearly two dozen protesters demonstrated in Times Square for 34 minutes, one minute for every year that Óscar López Rivera has been in jail. López Rivera, 73, was convicted and sentenced to 55 years in federal prison for seditious conspiracy, conspiring to oppose U.S. authority over Puerto Rico by force. He was also accused of being a member of the FALN, the Armed Forces of National Liberation, which claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings to call attention to the colonial case of Puerto Rico. “What they’ve done to him is wrong,” said protester, Rosario Vera, 62. “He has been there for 34 years now and soon to be 35 years. It’s basically putting a muzzle on the independence movement in Puerto Rico. His life was basically cut short.”

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34 Mujeres por Óscar-CHI Speak on Radio Show ‘On The Count’

Posted on 07 March 2016 by Kevin Garcia

by Diana Castillo,

Screenshot 2016-06-08 13.14.39National Boricua Human Rights Network Members of “34 Mujeres por Óscar” New York and Chicago spoke on the radio show “On The Count,” hosted by Steven Mangual, on Saturday March 19th. The segment highlighted the support and enthusiasm that women of the movement are generating for the release of Óscar López Rivera. 34 Mujeres por Óscar exists to publicize the López Rivera case and demanScreenshot 2016-06-08 13.14.48d his release. On the show members called on other women to join and support the campaign by attending rallies the last Saturday of the month in Chicago and the last Sunday of the month in Puerto Rico, Boston and New York. 34 Mujeres por Óscar groups hold monthly demonstrations in Puerto Rico, New York, Boston and Chicago in solidarity with the
Puerto Rican political prisoner who has been incarcerated 34 years. On The Count identifies and examines criminal and social justice issues directed towards reducing the inappropriate reliance on punishment and mass incarceration as the primary response to social and economic inequality. It is the only radio program produced and hosted entirely by formerly incarcerated men and women. Listen to the radio show at: http:// bit.ly/on-the-count

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34 Mujeres X Oscar-CHI Take Logan Square

Posted on 07 March 2016 by Kevin Garcia

by Janeida Rivera,

Screenshot 2016-06-08 13.12.14National Boricua Human Rights Network Saturday March 26th, 34 Mujeres X Oscar congregated in Logan Square for their monthly rally to call for the freedom of Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera. This group, a collective of women that is an initiative of the National Boricua Human Rights Network, convenes monthly and chants and hold signs that demand Oscars release, asking cars passing by to honk in support, displaying their social media hashtags for the curious commuters, their 34 Mujeres X Oscar Chicago banner and Puerto Rican flags for each minute representing the length of years Oscar López Rivera has been incarcerated. Logan Square has received this group warmly and people who pass them, honk, raise their fists, shout affirming things and stop for more information about the Campaign to Free Oscar. Several local residents have volunteered to help distribute flyers. Screenshot 2016-06-08 13.12.23Men are welcome to join in support of this women-led monthly gathering and hold signs, collect petitions, chant or carry a banner and children are also welcomed to shake a maraca, dance, chant and participate as well! Please join us for our next 34 Mujeres X Oscar – CHI gathering on April 30, 2016 to have time to park, grab a flag, poster, maraca or flyers/petitions at 2:30PM and the event begins and ends promptly from 3:00PM to 3:34PM. Bring friends and family and let’s gather in the name of justice and peace! View a short video at http://bit. ly/34MujeresChiMarch2016 “Justicia y paz, ni un año mas!”

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