A week from today independence fighter Oscar López Rivera will walk out the door of his daughter’s home in Puerto Rico, where the U.S. government has kept him under house arrest for the last few months. A few hours later he will join his first public demonstration since he was sent to jail 36 years ago on frame-up charges of seditious conspiracy. And from there he will be speaking out against the island’s domination by U.S. imperialism as he tours the island and cities across the U.S.
This is a victory not just for the people of Puerto Rico but for working people in the U.S.
It comes as we are living through the carnage visited on working people by today’s slow-burning crisis of capitalism — a crisis like none of us have seen before. Increasingly the propertied ruling families fear working people as they sense that deeper struggles — class struggle — lie ahead.
Part of their reaction is to slander us as “deplorables” and “trash.” In response to López’s freedom and the boost it gives to workers’ struggles, the New York Post ran a scurrilous attack on him.
Washington’s Financial Oversight and Management Board, imposed on the island by the U.S. rulers, is using its dictatorial powers to squeeze every last drop of sweat and tears from working people in Puerto Rico to pay the “debt” to the hedge funds and capitalist families that hold the island’s bonds.
These measures helped make this year’s May Day protests in Puerto Rico the largest in many years. This bodes well for the fight against Washington’s assault on workers’ standard of living and the fight to throw off U.S. colonial domination — with Oscar at our side.
That is why the Post’s editors ran a May 7 hatchet job titled “Puerto Rican Day Parade Honors the Terrorists Who Killed My Dad.” The column by Joseph Connor recycles all the old slanders against Oscar, insinuating he was responsible for a bombing at the Fraunces Tavern in 1975, despite the fact that he was over 1,000 miles away and even U.S. prosecutors — who never saw a frame-up they didn’t like — couldn’t fabricate bombing charges against him.
The author never mentions the U.S. colonial occupation of Puerto Rico nor independence struggles dating back to 1898.
The Post op-ed says that Lopez’s “vision of ‘freedom’ never involved freedom at all for Puerto Ricans but subjugation in a Cuba-like state.” Instead, Connor claims that the people of Puerto Rico don’t want independence and are happy the way they are under Washington’s boot.
The U.S. rulers’ can’t stand it that Oscar is unrepentant, he refuses to give up the fight for Puerto Rico’s independence. And that he has repeatedly pointed to the Cuban Revolution as an example the people of Puerto Rico should emulate.
Like workers in Puerto Rico, workers in the U.S. face deepening attacks on our wages and working conditions, health care and pensions, and seemingly endless imperialist wars abroad, as the bosses try to make us pay for the crisis of their capitalist system. And there are millions of Puerto Ricans living and struggling with us in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Orlando, and more. Our struggles here and in Puerto Rico are intertwined.
From the founding of the Socialist Workers Party, my party has stood for the immediate and unconditional independence of all Washington’s colonies.
Welcome home Oscar! We look forward to fighting shoulder to shoulder in defense of working people around the world.
We say: End U.S. colonial rule in Puerto Rico! Puerto Rico, U.S. — We fight together! Emulate the Cuban Revolution! Independence isn’t granted, it must be fought for!
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