NEW YORK — Some 100 people attended a meeting at Hostos Community College in the Bronx here with Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar López Rivera Feb. 1. Asked what he saw in Puerto Rico when he returned there after serving 36 years in U.S. prison on frame-up seditious conspiracy charges, López said, “I came home to do two things — to work and to struggle. Prison itself was like going through a different university, experience became knowledge.”
López visited Cuba in mid-November, something, he said, he had wanted to do “for a long time.” He was welcomed to the island by Fernando González, president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). González, one of five Cubans framed up and imprisoned by the U.S. government for their activities in defense of the Cuban Revolution in southern Florida, shared a cell with López for four years. “Cuba represents the best example of what human solidarity is,” said López. “They send doctors around the world, most recently in response to the earthquake in Mexico.”
He was asked about the impact of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and Washington’s lack of response. “The real crisis in Puerto Rico is colonialism,” López said. He described what has happened in his hometown, where power was restored “through the efforts of retired electrical workers putting up the poles,” he said.
“FEMA said they shouldn’t have done it and tried to undo this,” he said.
Sponsors of the meeting included the Puerto Rican Student Organization, ALMA, Hostos Unidos por PR, and Common Ground student clubs. López also spoke at Trinity Lutheran Church in Brooklyn and at the Iglesia Santa Cruz Church in Manhattan’s Washington Heights.