Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Free Puerto Rican activist Oscar López Rivera
Oscar López Rivera was put in jail at the age of 38. He is now 70, and still imprisoned. López Rivera was not charged with murder or any violent crime. Instead, he was accused of being involved with an organization that supported Puerto Rican independence from the United States.
The crime he was sentenced for was seditious conspiracy; a law instituted by the U.S. government during the Civil War. After the war no individual was charged with seditious conspiracy until the push for Puerto Rican independence began in the 1930’s. López Rivera has been a political prisoner for 32 years, a sentence steeper than a number of violent crime offenders, and authorities want him to serve another 30 years. We must stop allowing the persecution of political prisoners, and petition President Obama to take the first step by freeing Oscar López Rivera.
López Rivera is said to be one of the longest held political prisoners in the world. He was tried with seditious conspiracy in 1980 and accused of being a leader of Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), a Puerto Rican Nationalist group that called for the independence of Puerto Rico from the United States. The group is purportedly linked to over 100 bombings, but López Rivera was not accused of being involved in any of these events. He has neither denied or affirmed his participation in FALN, but has publicly disowned any involvement in the bombings or violent crimes committed by the FALN.
In 1999, former president Bill Clinton offered López Rivera conditional clemency, but he refused because the offer did not include all of his fellow political prisoners and involved a strict set of probationary measures. Recently, multiple politicians, athletes, and activists abroad have called for the release of López Rivera, citing his only crime was love for his country. We must do our part and add to the voices calling for López Rivera’s freedom.
Dear President Obama,
Are we such a punitive nation that we insist upon imprisoning political dissidents for a lifetime? How can we make proclamations of democracy and justice while participating in the stripping of liberties?
Already there have been calls for Oscar López Rivera’s freedom. Already it has been demonstrated that López Rivera has been prosecuted for political ideology; not violent crimes or actions. And already López Rivera has suffered an unjust imprisonment for 32 years. So, why has your administration not already granted this man’s freedom?
We are a nation in need of taking tremendous steps toward true democracy. Democracy means granting civil liberties, civil freedoms, and civil equality. One step that your administration can make in striving toward those guarantees is ending the preposterous confinement of Oscar López Rivera; it has been far too long already.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Serge de Gracia via flickr