This is long overdue for a peaceful warrior who served the people of the United States as well as the people of Puerto Rico. This man would not leave a fellow warrior behind – whether in Vietnam (where he was awarded a Bronze Star) or a U.S. prison.
From the MumiaNYC Website:
Barack Obama commutes sentence of Oscar Lopez Rivera
The political prisoner spent 35 years in North American prisons
Tuesday, January 17, 2017 – 5:23 PM
By José A. Delgado
Washington – US President Barack Obama announced this afternoon that he has commuted the sentence of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, effective May 17, 2017.
The order for the release of the last Cold War veteran of the Cold War in American jails was given this afternoon, along with 208 other commutations of sentences announced by the White House.
Prisoner 87651-024 – who has been imprisoned in Terre Haute (Indiana) prison for the past several years and has served 35 years in prison – would be released in four months.
“I am very happy and overwhelmed with emotion,” said Democratic Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (Illinois), for whom López Rivera and his brother José are friends and mentors.
“There were times when hope was hard to find, but my wife Soraida always had faith that this day would come. Now it is clear that Oscar will reunite with his family and be able to walk freely among Puerto Ricans,” said Gutiérrez.
The Terre Haute jail is about three and a half hours from Chicago, where López Rivera was arrested 35 years and seven months ago.
“I am hopeful that I will be able to get out of jail and that as long as I remain in this world dedicate it to work and fight to help solve the biggest problem we face,” said López Rivera on January 6, when he turned 74 years old.
López Rivera was convicted of seditious conspiracy for his ties to the clandestine Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN) group, which claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks in the United States and caused six deaths.
López Rivera was arrested on May 29, 1981 in the suburb of Glennview, a suburb of Chicago, not stopping at an intersection. He held a pistol. Until then he had been in hiding for five years.
López Rivera always denied having blood on his hands and was never convicted of hurting anyone. “If federal agencies had a fingerprint of me associating with anything in which there were dead [people], I would be sentenced to life imprisonment,” he maintained in the most recent interview with El Nuevo Dia on December 1.
In interviews with El Nuevo Día, López Rivera has indicated that as soon as he leaves prison he would first go to see his family in Chicago, where he arrived when he was 14 years old. But then he will go live to his hometown of San Sebastian, in Puerto Rico. “I’m Pepino … I want to enjoy Puerto Rico, my family. But I like to work. I have some skills – organizing, helping young people – that I want to share with people,” he said.
His 45-year-old daughter, Clarisa, who met him in prison shortly after his arrest, will pick him up in Terre Haute next May with her uncle Jose López Rivera, director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago, and his lawyer Jan Susler. The three have led the struggle for the release of the prisoner of independence.
Jose López Rivera said last week that his brother’s plan was still to go to Chicago for a couple of days to visit family and friends, before traveling to Puerto Rico.
“…There is a lot of love between us,” López Rivera said in a telephone interview in June 2013, which along with others he made that month, were the first to let him talk to El Nuevo Día in 2006.
Since then he has had frequent contact with the media, although the Bureau of Prisons has always refused to allow an interview in person.
López Rivera also received clemency – conditional upon serving another 10 years in prison – in August 1999, when President Bill Clinton pardoned a dozen prisoners from the Los Macheteros and FALN clandestine groups.
Then, López Rivera – a veteran of the Vietnam War – rejected the offer, mainly because the pardons did not include two of his companions – Carlos Alberto Torres and Haydee Beltran.
“Never in Vietnam or in the street did I leave anyone behind. It was difficult for me to know that I could leave first. Also in 10 additional years of jail I did not commit any infraction, and in prison one never knows what the jailer may want to do,” he said in 2013.
In 2011, with both released, he then asked for clemency to President Obama.
“If he is willing to listen, he can see that I can still be productive. No one can say that I am an evil person,” said López Rivera in the most recent interview with El Nuevo Día, noting that once the 2016 presidential election [was past], his chances of being released increased.
The prisoner of independence has lamented the estrangement of his family and the repression suffered by his loved ones.
“My two brothers were called before the Grand Jury. They both refused. My younger brother served 13 [months] in prison for refusing to testify. My older brother was fired from his job. My brothers knew absolutely nothing of what I was doing. I never involved them in anything. One of the ugliest practices was that the agents were going to visit my mother. They went into the house when she was away. When she returned, they were waiting for her, telling her that if they did not deliver me, they would kill me. In those five years (in hiding), I never saw a relative of mine. When my mother told me that, it was painful for me,” Lopez Rivera said recently.