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Vol. 81/No. 20      May 22, 2017


Oscar López will be free on May 17, tour Puerto Rico, US

Nearly 36 years after he was imprisoned for his activities opposing U.S. colonial rule in Puerto Rico — serving more than 12 years in solitary confinement — independence fighter Oscar López Rivera will be free May 17.

López has said he intends to throw himself into the struggle to end U.S. colonial rule over Puerto Rico. He has often explained that the Cuban Revolution is “a beacon of hope and an example to emulate.”

The last three months he has been under house arrest in San Juan, denied the right to speak publicly. President Barack Obama commuted his sentence before leaving office in the face of a growing international campaign for López’s release.

“It’s the end of a long struggle,” Alejandro Molina told the Militant May 8, “and the beginning of new opportunities that are pregnant with possibility.” Molina is a spokesperson for the National Boricua Human Rights Network and has been centrally involved in the fight to free López.

López’s release comes just two weeks after May Day protests in Puerto Rico, Molina said, which focused on opposing the U.S.-imposed fiscal board’s dictates that have deepened cuts in pensions, slashed medical coverage and hiked prices of essential services.

López will be the main speaker at an afternoon rally and concert May 17 at the Plaza de la Convalecencia in the Río Piedras neighborhood of San Juan. The plaza is a short walk from the University of Puerto Rico where students are on strike, protesting massive cuts to the university budget.

The next day López will be in Chicago for a march and rally in Humboldt Park. López and his family moved to Chicago when he was 14, where he was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Vietnam. Many in Chicago still remember López coming back politicized, fighting against job discrimination, police brutality and demanding independence for Puerto Rico.

On May 20 López will be back in Puerto Rico for a rally in San Sebastián, where he was born. On May 31 he will speak in Berkeley, California, along with his brother José López, director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago.

López will speak at a wide variety of events in New York City June 8-11. A highlight will be his participation in the Puerto Rican Day Parade there, where he is designated as a “National Freedom Hero.”

On June 19 he will speak at the annual United Nations hearing on decolonization of Puerto Rico.

There are cops, red baiters, opponents of ending U.S. colonial rule in Puerto Rico and others who despise the fact that López will soon be free and speaking out. They are trying to whip up a counter-campaign to minimize the response he gets.

The May 7 New York Post featured an op-ed column attacking López. Headlined “Puerto Rican Day Parade Honors the Terrorists Who Killed My Dad,” it was written by Joseph Connor. His father was killed when a bomb exploded at the Fraunces Tavern in New York in January 1975. The Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), a group that demanded independence for the U.S. colony, took credit for the explosion.

What Connor does not mention is that López was never charged with participating in a single bombing or act of violence. The main charge against him was a frame-up charge of “seditious conspiracy.”

Slander targets independence fight
The real target becomes clearer when Connor asserts that the Puerto Rican people are not “for independence from America” because in 2012 “60 percent voted for statehood.” And he hates revolutionary Cuba, which he calls a “tyranny.” He says López has no interest in freedom for Puerto Ricans, but wants to place them in “subjugation in a Cuba-like state.”

“We should answer the slander campaign by mobilizing to get as many people as possible to join the Oscar López contingent in the Puerto Rican Day Parade,” Molina said.

For more information on upcoming events with Oscar López, from Philadelphia to New England visit:
Related articles:
SWP: ‘End US colonial rule in Puerto Rico!’
Oscar López will be free May 17! Welcome back!
Washington pushes cuts on Puerto Rican people
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