Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Oscar Lopez Rivera 31 yrs Puerto Rican political prisoner! Prisionero Politico!

NiLP Guest Commentary 
A Response to the New York Daily News
Perpetuating False Charges on the
1975 Fraunces Tavern Bombing
By Jan Susler (January 26, 2012)

Jan SuslerOscar López Rivera, a 69-year-old decorated Vietnam veteran, has spent 31 years in U.S. prison for his commitment to the independence of Puerto Rico. He has the dubious distinction of being the longest held pro-independence prisoner in Puerto Rico's history of seeking self-determination - and thousands preceded him. Convicted of seditious conspiracy in Chicago, he is serving a sentence of 70 years, although he was not convicted of harming or killing anyone.

If you read the New York Daily News article published this year on January 24th, on the 37th anniversary of the bombing of Fraunces Tavern, you wouldn't know this . . . and you would be left with the impression that López Rivera should remain in prison because he is somehow responsible for that tragic action. That is, sadly, what the FBI has led the victims to believe, and it is most certainly the weapon wielded by the FBI in its unceasing efforts to convince the public, the U.S. Parole Commission, and the President, that López Rivera should remain in prison.

López Rivera has denied participation in the 1975 tragedy at Fraunces Tavern. There is no evidence to connect him to it. If the FBI had such evidence, it would surely prosecute him - but in the 37 years since, it has not. Instead, it has waged a campaign of guilt by association, using its bully pulpit to prolong his imprisonment, and thereby punish him for his commitment to the independence of Puerto Rico.

In fact, during his 1981 trial for seditious conspiracy, López Rivera presented no defense in court. Prosecutors risked little, if anything, in charging him on this case. They did not charge him - again, because there simply is not a shred of evidence that could even remotely link him to the Fraunces Tavern event. The New York Daily News has done its readers - and more importantly, truth and justice - a great disservice by implying there is somehow some kind of link between López Rivera and this case, a link that somehow has mysteriously eluded prosecutors, the courts and the FBI for more than 31 years.

A campaign for the release of López Rivera and his co-defendants, which enjoyed broad support throughout Puerto Rican civil society and among the international human rights and faith community, resulted in President Clinton's 1999 offer to commute the sentences of most of them. Most were offered immediate release, but López Rivera would have to serve an additional 10 years behind bars. The others accepted the president's offer, were welcomed as returning heroes in Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican communities in the U.S., and for the past 12 years have lived productive, law-abiding lives. Out of concern that the President's offer did not include all those in prison for their commitment to independence , López Rivera rejected the offer. Had he accepted, he would have been released in September of 2009. Those excluded from the president's offer have since been released - López Rivera is now the only one still in prison from the Chicago seditious conspiracy cases of the 1980s.

That campaign continues to advocate for López Rivera's release from prison. Recent activities in Puerto Rico include mass demonstrations during President Obama's June visit to the Island, calling for his release - and elected officials personally asking the President to release him - ; on the occasion of López Rivera's 69th birthday, the Catholic Archbishop presiding over a mass, and a gathering of representatives from every sector of civil society calling for his release; and students painting murals featuring his face and the message "Freedom Now!" for López Rivera.

In the proud United States tradition of exercising the constitutional power of pardon, three U.S. Presidents have commuted the sentences of Puerto Rican political prisoners: President Truman in 1952, President Carter in 1979, and President Clinton in 1999. President Obama should not be fooled by the FBI's campaign of untruths.
For more information about the campaign for Oscar Lopez Rivera's release, contact the National Boricua Human Rights Network at
Jan Susler, a partner at the People's Law Office in Chicago and member of the National Lawyers Guild, has been working as attorney for the Puerto Rican political prisoners for the past 30 years, and was lead counsel in the campaign leading to the 1999 presidential commutation. She continues to work with those who remain in prison. She can be reached at 773-235-0070 x 118 and 


  1. Dear Partner,


    Those who accept colonialism do not believe in justice for all! Now that we know that the political parties will not solve this problem, I invite you to join the non-violent protest to demand that the United States (US) decolonize Puerto Rico (PR) immediately. It will be on Monday, June 17, 2013 from 8 AM to 5 PM outside the United Nations (UN) visitor’s entrance located on 46th Street and First Avenue in New York City.

    The UN has determined that colonialism is a crime against humanity in 1960 under Resolution 1514 (XV). That’s why the UN celebrates every year a hearing about Puerto Rico decolonization. Every year the UN puts forth a resolution asking the US to decolonize PR. Despite 30 of these resolutions, PR is still the oldest and most populated colony in the world! It is obvious by now that the US is not going to decolonize PR just because the UN asks.

    Through education, we must create a domestic and international solidarity with this cause to pressure the US to do what historically she has refused to do. This is why we need everyone who also believes that colonialism is a crime against humanity to join the protest to demand compliance to international law!

    Puerto Rico has been a colony of the US for 114 years. The US’ intention is to keep PR a colony forever unless we do something about it. It is important to note that: democracy isn’t what a government does. Democracy is what people do!
    President John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.” These ideas, of course, are the reasons why the United Nations was created after World War II.

    It is up to us to defend the fundamental human rights that promote world peace. The tragedy of doing nothing is that we will have the kind of government that we deserve!


    José M. López Sierra

    For more information:
    Compañeros Unidos para la Descolonización de Puerto Rico

  2. Greetings,

    We need to work together to decolonize Puerto Rico and free Oscar López Rivera. Join 2 peaceful protests until it is accomplished!

    Un abrazo,

  3. Greetings Partner,

    We will have a peaceful protest on Saturday, November 23rd in Puerto Rico for the liberation of our patriot and political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. Click on the link below for more information.

    Un abrazo,

  4. Dear Partners,

    Join The First Oscar – Mandela Protest in Puerto Rico on Saturday, March 22, 2014, on the Abolition of Slavery Day, to peacefully protest for the decolonization of Puerto Rico and the release of our political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. It is the perfect day to protest the enslavement of Puerto Rico by the government of the United States.

    We will march from the Roosevelt Avenue Urban Train Station at 2 PM to the United States Court in Puerto Rico on Chardón Street in Hato Rey.

    If you belong to any particular group, feel free to bring your flags and signs to our protest. We want it to be a collective effort involving everyone who believes that colonialism is a crime against humanity and a threat to world peace. We need to have as many people as possible, because those who practice or accept colonialism, don’t believe in justice for all!

    Un abrazo,

  5. Dear Partner,

    Now that the First Oscar – Mandela March in Puerto Rico is history, we can now begin to work on making an even bigger success of The First Oscar Mandela Protest in New York City. This year’s Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City a week before our protest will be dedicated to our political prisoner Oscar López Rivera.

    On Monday, June 23, 2014, the United Nations (UN) will be discussing again Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship with the United States. The UN is in its third decade trying to eradicate colonialism from the world, because of the belief that it constitutes a threat to world peace. Since this date is a week later than usual, our committee decided to have 2 protests this year.

    On the Monday, June 16, 2014, the day after Fathers’ Day, we will have our first protest in the park across from the UN on 46th Street and First Avenue from 8 AM to 5 PM to show the world that we too believe that colonialism is a crime against humanity. On the same day of the hearing, Monday June 23, we will have the second one. We will have a press conference in New York City to inform the public of the latest details of these event. We will need as many people at the protest as possible to make the government of the United States (US) comply with the 32 UN resolutions asking the US to decolonize immediately Puerto Rico. After this many resolutions, it is obvious that the US does not want to.

    President Obama recently showed the government of the United States’ hypocrisy about human rights. In his memorial ceremony speech, he had only praise for Nelson Mandela. He, however, has refused, despite the enormous pressure from Puerto Rico and the rest of the world, to release from prison Oscar López Rivera who is doing exactly what Mandela did. Oscar has already spent 6 more years in prison than the 27 that Mandela served. The US is happy when other countries decolonize their colonies, but the US wants to keep hers. What kind of democracy is this? Obviously, those who have colonies don’t believe in justice for all.

    Please tell your friends about this important protest for Oscar López Rivera’s release from prison, and to achieve what he has spent his life on, the decolonization of Puerto Rico.

    We will have a sheet of paper so that whoever who wants to get involved in the planning of this yearly permanent event in New York City can provide us with your contact information. If you wish, you can also email me right now at

    We look forward to greeting old and new partners in our struggle to provide real justice for all!

    José M López Sierra
    Because, rights are not requested, they are demanded!

  6. Dear Partner,

    After the approval of the 33rd United Nations’ resolution by consensus on June 23, 2014 asking the United States (US) to immediately decolonize of Puerto Rico, we should work together to force the United States government to comply with it.

    The facts that the United States government has maintained Puerto Rico as its colony for 116 years, has had Oscar López Rivera in prison for 33 years for fighting for Puerto Rico decolonization, and has ignored 33 UN resolutions to decolonize Puerto Rico, confirm that the US government has no intentions of ever decolonizing Puerto Rico. Therefore, we need to form a tsunami of people to force the US to comply with the 33 resolutions.

    We should peacefully protest at least 3 times a year until we achieve our goal. The first one will be a march up to the US Courthouse in Puerto Rico on the Abolition of Slavery Day on March 22. The second will be another march in Puerto Rico on a day before the UN’s Puerto Rico decolonization hearing. The third one will be a protest in New York City on the same day the UN holds its Puerto Rico decolonization hearing.

    These 3 protests are indispensable, because those who have colonies don’t believe in justice for all.

    José M López Sierra
    Comité Timón del Pueblo
    United Partners for the Decolonization of Puerto Rico

  7. Not true that there are 3 political status options for Puerto Rico

    The United States (US) government has made Puerto Ricans believe that there are 3 political status options for Puerto Rico. That is a lie. The purpose for that is to have Puerto Ricans fight amongst themselves. The plan has been a huge success! Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States for 116 years, and judging by the 80% voter turnout in the colonial elections, the majority of us has not realized that we have been lied to.

    In reality, there is only one option. The United Nations (UN) in 1960 determined that colonialism is a crime against humanity. Therefore, the only thing that Puerto Rico can do is to become her own nation. That means that the US must give Puerto Rico the sovereignty that the US illegally took away from her by virtue of the July 25, 1898 military invasion.

    Thus far, the US government has ignored the 33 UN resolutions asking it to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico. Instead, it has tried to hide these petitions, and at the same time appear to believe in democracy by pushing for plebiscites so that Puerto Ricans could decide between colonialism, being a US state, or independence (decolonization as required by the UN).

    The problem with the US pushed plebiscites are that they:

    1. don’t comply with international law that prohibits a nation to have a colony.
    2. don’t comply with international law that requires the empire to give the sovereignty it illegally took away to its colony.
    3. don’t comply with international law that requires that to have free elections, that country must be free first.
    4. have 2 options that are not permitted by international law- continuing being a colony and becoming a state of the country that has the colony. For the option of becoming a state of the country that has the colony to be considered, the colony must first become her own nation (decolonized).

    This is why we have to peacefully protest 3 times a year until the US government complies with the UN resolutions for Puerto Rico decolonization.

    José M López Sierra