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Cartas a Karina Book reception: Poets Martin Espada and Juana Goergen “We Stand with Oscar”

Posted on 10 December 2016 by alejandro

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On Oct. 28, 2016 The National Boricua Human Rights Network sponsored a book reception for Cartas a Karina with Puerto Rican poets Martin Espada, who wrote the introduction to the book, and Juana Iris Goergen, poet and professor at DePaul University. During the light dinner, at Nellie’s Puerto Rican Restaurant on Paseo Boricua, Jose E. Lopez, Puerto Rican Cultural Center Executive Director, introduced Juana Goergen, who spoke about reading the letters as they were published in Puerto Rico’s newspaper El Nuevo Dia several years ago, and how she was moved by the correspondence. She felt deeply honored to be able to speak about the Letters to Karina”, and composed an original piece of prose, for the event.

In Chicago, the book is available for $15.00 at 2546 W. Division St. It’s also available online at: http://bit.ly/cartas-a-karina

Martin Espada, also in town to promote his new book, “Vivas to Those Who Have Failed”, spoke movingly of his father, famous civil rights photographer Frank Espada, and growing up in Brooklyn. He referenced it as he spoke about Chicago, saying, he felt that he had come home when he saw the gigantic Puerto Rican flags on Paseo Boricua. “I’m from Brooklyn, and proud of it- but there is no place like Chicago for Puerto Ricans,” Espada said. He ended by saying, “Years from now, I want my grandchil- dren to know, in this moment, such an important moment for the Campaign, that I stood with Oscar like all of you stand with Oscar.”

by Alejandro Molina, National Boricua Human Rights Network.

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La Marqueta of East Harlem revives the Spirit of Lares with Don Rafael Cancel Miranda

Posted on 21 November 2016 by alejandro

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A crowd of 400 plus full of patriotic energy in the La Marqueta, in East Harlem waited anxiously to hear the words of their National Hero on Friday, September 23, 2016.

This year we had the privilege to honor Don Rafael Cancel Miranda and our commemoration of the heroic people of El Grito de Lares of September 23, 1868 in the affirmation of nationhood. Don Rafael and his comrades illustrated the transcendental passage of a struggle of resistance against colonialism from one generation in the 19th Century to another in the 20th Century. Don Rafael brought us back to the 1950’s. He reaffirmed our historical memory of the heroic actions of Lolita Lebron, Irvin Flores, Andres Figueroa Cordero and himself, all lived at that time in New York City (the diaspora), when on March of 1954, they marked a historical event that shocked the foundations of US imperialism and modeled for the rest of oppressed nations, in particular, Latin America, the route to liber- ation. Don Rafael said: “What motivated me as a young man of 23 to go to Washington, DC on the attack on Congress was the LOVE for my people”.

He explained the farce of the US in its establishment of the Commonwealth and lack of self-determination in Puerto Rico. Then he assures that 61 years later a er spending almost 30 years in the worst prisons in the US, he feels vindicated that now the US Supreme Court and Congress agrees that Puerto Rico did not obtain any form of sovereignty in 1950s. He spoke of the brave compatriots, women and men that were imprisoned in 1980s, that includes Oscar Lopez Rivera. He spoke of the heroic actions of five women that lived in the diaspora. Again, reaffirming the important role of the Puerto Rican diaspora in the struggle to free the homeland.

Clarisa Lopez, Oscar’s daughter, spoke of the importance to mobilize to Washington, DC on October 9, 2016 and urged people to sign up for bus trip on the table of literature. Over 60 persons signed up that night and over 300 petitions were singed and 500 palm cards distributed.

The crowd’s applauses and chants were louder than the sounds of the train that passed above us. The chants of “FREE OSCAR” transcended the iron pillars of the structure and hopefully reached to the White House for the immediate release of our beloved Oscar Lopez Rivera.

We heard performances from our favorite performers Fernandito Ferrer and La Banda Acustica that played their recently release CD “Mi querido Rafael” songs of different genres that explains all of Don Rafael’s life and struggle.

This year, El Grito de Lares marked another historical event that will remain in our historical memory forever. i?Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre!!

By Ana M. Lopez, NYC Coordinator to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera

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In La Marqueta Retona; New York Welcomes Gutierrez

Posted on 21 November 2016 by alejandro

Hundreds Applaud, Cheer Gutierrez and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito call for Oct. 9 Interfaith Convocation and Cultural Celebration

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On September 17, 2016 a special and spirited rally was held in the historical site “La Marqueta” in East Harlem to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera. La Marqueta is a market built underneath the metro north train system that has been renovated into a special space for Puerto Rican cultural expression and fortification of identity. Thus renamed “La Marqueta Retona”. It is, in essence, an outdoor theatre with a Caribbean touch with “kioskos” that sell “alcapurriaspastelillos” and other “cuchifritos” for the community to enjoy. It is an space where artist and musicians share their talents with free community performances.

On this date, “salsa” day, “La Marqueta” was visited by over 500 people. The community embraced the humanitarian rally for our beloved patriot Oscar who has been in prison for more than 35 years. Proclaimed by many the “Mandela of the Americas”, has become a symbol of unity and love for the Puerto Rican people. Special guests at- tended this rally all the way from Chicago. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who has embarked on a journey from the East Coast to the Midwest to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera, spoke in a very moving fashion to the hundreds present. Jose E. Lopez, Oscar’s brother was also present.

Over 1,000 fliers were distributed for the Interfaith Freedom Convocation on Oct. 9 to Washington, DC in the event and community, 200 petitions were signed, T-shirts bearing the words “Obama: Free Oscar Lopez Now!” were sold, and hundreds of persons took turns taking pictures with the life-size image of Oscar.

The humanitarian spirit spread, the reception was filled with warmth, and the community of East Harlem asked that we rally as much as possible. Agreed, until Oscar returns home!

by Prof. Ana M. Lopez NYC Coordinator to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera

 

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Nationalism, Transna- tional Solidarity and Oscar Lopez Rivera

Posted on 21 November 2016 by alejandro

On Saturday Sept. 24 at El Museo del Barrio, NYC Coun- cil Pres. Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Queens College Pres. Dr. Felix Matos Rodriguez organized a forum on Oscar Lo?pez Rivera which featured Puerto Rica National Hero Rafael Cancel Mirada. Rafael entered el Museo del Barrio anked by Positive Workforce members who presented him with a safety vest, a union helmet and chanted ¡Viva Puerto Rico Libre!

As he entered the auditorium, the audience enthusiastical- ly rose and chanted support for Don Rafael and for independence for Puerto Rico. Distinguished Dr. Felix Matos, President of Queens College introduced the panel of speakers. First was Clarisa Lo?pez Ramos, daughter of Oscar Lo?pez Rivera, who read a very moving letter from her father to Don Rafael. Next, Dr. Margaret Power, history professor at Illinois In- stitute of Technology, spoke about the transnational support for the struggle for Puerto Rican Indepen- dence throughout Latin America. Prof. Ana Lo?pez, professor at Hostos Community College, then gave an impressive account of the organizing for the October 9, 2016 rally in Washington, D.C. to free Oscar Lopez. Don Rafael then gave an impassioned speech focusing on how proud he was to be Puerto Rican and that he was not sorry that he attacked the U.S. Congress.

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In Lorain, OH, Congressman Gutiérrez Receives Rousing Welcome

Posted on 04 August 2016 by Kevin Garcia

Screenshot 2016-08-04 11.22.27Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez received a rousing welcome by hundreds of Puerto Ricans/Latinos in Lorain, Ohio as he initiated his efforts to build support for a massive freedom musical event to be held on Oct. 9, 2016 in Washington DC, demanding the release of the Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López. In his opening remarks, Councilman Arroyo noted how Gutiérrez had become a voice for the millions of undocumented workers, for the defense of Puerto Rico and particularly for the release of Puerto Rican political prisoner López Rivera. Luis spoke about how this issue had also been very important to him as well as the defense of Black Lives, the uplifting of women’s and gay rights, but, for him at this point, the freeing of Oscar López Rivera by Pres. Obama was a priority. Congressman Gutiérrez was invited by Lorain Councilman Angel Arroyo Jr. as part of an annual community festival in his predominantly Puerto Rican/Latino district. Councilman Arroyo was joined on stage by State Rep. Dan Ramos, the highest ranking Puerto Rican elected official in Ohio, and Mayor of Lorain, Chase Ritenauer, who also gave a warm welcome to Congressman Gutiérrez. He acknowledged and thanked the President for releasing many people who had faced longed sentences, but it was time for him to free Puerto Rico’s and Latin America’s Nelson Mandela. He urged everyone to mobilize for Washington DC for the musical event.

PRCC Staff

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An Historic New Consensus: In the United Nations and in 46 Countries Int’l Solidarity w/ Puerto Rico AND Oscar Lopez is Manifested!

Posted on 04 August 2016 by Kevin Garcia

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On June 20, 2016, in both diplomatic and dramatic fashion, the peoples of the Caribbean nation of Puerto Rico stood tall and united on the international stage in an historic manner not previously imagined possible. The opening annual hearings on Puerto Rico of the United Nations Committee of 24, the Special Committee on Decolonization now led by Venezuelan Former Foreign Minister and Permanent Representative Ambassador Rafael Ramirez and made up of twentyseven nation-states, has long been a time of conflicting viewpoints publicaly aired regarding how best to move forward vis-a-vis the archipelago island’s status. This year, in the wake of crippling debt and amid widespread controversy about the recent US Supreme Court PR v. Sanchez Valle case and the Puerto Rican Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) – both of which place clear control of the island’s political and economic future under the direction of the US government – leaders of every major Puerto Rican electoral party and civil society organization petitioned the international body to intensify their support of a decolonization process which would remove US authority over the nation. Testimony by Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla, head of the commonwealthoriented Popular Democratic Party, was joined by Gubernatorial candidates from the pro-statehood, independence and nationalist parties, all of whom critiqued current conditions on the island and spoke with one voice on the need for immediate release of prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera, deemed the “Mandela of the Americas” by several Latin American heads of state at the 2015 Organization of American States summit. On the non-governmental level, June 20 was declared International Day of Solidarity with Oscar Lopez Rivera by a coalition led by the National Boricua Human Rights Network (NBHRN) and the Puerto Rican Human Rights Campaign (CDHPR), and included Olga Sanabria Davila, President of the Committee for Puerto Rico at the United Nations. Support actions for Lopez Rivera’s clemency were held in a startling fortythree countries, well beyond the original expectations of the coalition initiators, who had hoped for at least thirty-five actions representing each year of Lopez Rivera’s unjust imprisonment. At age 74 and behind bars since 1981, Lopez Rivera is the longest held prisoner in Puerto Rican history, convicted solely for the thought crime of seditious conspiracy – the same charge South African President Nelson Mandela served twenty-seven years in jail for. The June 20 actions began with a virtual “pray-in” for Oscar’s unconditional freedom coordinated by South African Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu, in conjunction with four additional Nobel Laureates from a total of five continents. East Timor’s former President Jose Ramos-Horta, Argentina’s Adolfo Perez Esquivel, US-based Jody Williams, and Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Island all took part in the prayerful vigil; Corrigan Maguire added that she will light a candle for Lopez Rivera as the prominent human rights elders pledge to continue to work for Oscar’s release. In an unprecedented move at the UN Decolonization hearings – and in the context of both an in-session mobile phone conversation between Lopez Rivera and Ambassador Ramirez, and a standing ovation following the testimony of Oscar’s daughter Clarissa – Bolivian Permanent Representative Ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz proposed that the Committee of 24 engage directly in the work to free Oscar and commit to visiting him in prison, a proposal enthusiastically endorsed by the UN body. “Sometimes the historical moment strikes unexpectedly,” commented Hostos Professor Ana Lopez, New York Coordinator and a key international activist of the Campaign to Free Oscar. “It is said that the stars become aligned guiding the path of righteousness. On June 20, the unanimous passing of the United Nations resolution, calling for Puerto Rico’s right to self-determination and for Oscar’s release without delay, was such a moment.” Affirming the reach and response of the solidarity actions as “nothing short of miraculous,” Professor Lopez noted that the activities – which took place across six continents in Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Burundi, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, England, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Euzkadi, France, Germany, Greece, Haiti, India, Italy, Kenya, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Palestine, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, USA, and Venezuela – were extremely diverse in nature. In addition to the prayin and candlelight vigils, groups held demonstrations at key sites of international and US connections, including a quickly-dispersed civil disobedience in front of the US embassy in Athens, Greece. In the Indian Ocean African nation of Mauritius, the indigenous party Lalit held a protest linking Oscar’s freedom and Puerto Rico’s colonial status with the US occupation and use of Diego Garcia as a nuclear military base, much as the US occupied and used the Puerto Rican island of Vieques for decades. In some instances, support actions took on more personal forms, such as a small student petitionsigning in Taipei, China and faculty-led petition drives in Algeria, Australia, Nigeria, Trinidad and elsewhere. In a few cases, private meetings between government officials and Oscar supporters took place, and a few representatives of foreign governments made public statements in support of Oscar’s freedom; in others, solidarity groups sent broad messages of greeting and love to Oscar himself, or to President Obama, demanding that he exercise his power of pardon before leaving office in early January 2017. A former political prisoner and current popular radio talk show host in the Dominican Republic dedicated his June 20th telecast to news about Oscar’s case, and two young women from Eritrea – Meaza and Hanna Petros, whoset father and mother were both major leaders of the independence movement there and are now both political prisoners, held incommunicado since 2001 and 2003 – made and publicized signs in their native Tigrinya stating “Release Oscar Now!” Actions or vigils in the US took place in San Francisco, CA, Boulder, CO, and in front of the United Nations in New York, where Professor López and others from 35 Women for Oscar led chants and listened to reports from inside the UN, including from Puerto Rican former political prisoner Adolfo Matos; extensive coverage included interviews airing on Univision, Telemundo, TeleSur and in local print media.

by Matt Meyer

In addition to representatives of NBHRN and the CDHPR, the international coalition included Lopez, Sanabria, San Francisco-based solidarity activist Judith Mirkinson, National Lawyers Guild President Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, 1199 Service Employees International Union Vice President Estela Vasquez and this author. Professor Lopez concluded: “What we witnessed was indeed historic – a new consensus on Puerto Rican self-determination, with Oscar Lopez Rivera’s freedom at the center.” In addition to serving on the June 20, 2016 International Solidarity with Oscar campaign committee, author Matt Meyer is a representative of both the War Resisters International and the International Peace Research Association, for which he serves as UN representative affiliated with the Department of Public Information and the UN Economic and Social Council.

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Against the Control Board

Posted on 04 August 2016 by Kevin Garcia

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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

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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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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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