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