Protest at White House Demands that Obama Free Oscar Lopez Rivera

By José A. Delgado on October 11, 2016

Photo: El Nuevo Dia

Photo: El Nuevo Dia

Just a few steps away from the White House, Clarisa López Ramos, the only daughter of Oscar López Rivera, confessed that she avoids thinking about the possibility that Barack Obama might leave the presidency of the United States without granting clemency to his father, a political prisoner who has lived for 35 years and four months of his life in US prisons.

“I know it’s a possibility, but I don’t want to think about that”, said López Ramos, who met her father around the time he was imprisoned and wasn’t able to see him during the 12 years he was in solitary confinement.

Five years ago, López Rivera, who will turn 74 in January, sent a plea for clemency to the government of Barack Obama, after all other members of the clandestine independentista group he was a part of, the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN) were freed.

His daughter, López Ramos, was the main speaker at an act held in Lafayette park, just across the street from the southern side of the White House. The act was convened by a coalition that is led by the former Secretary of State Ingrid Vila Biaggi to remind President Obama that López Rivera’s request is still pending.

President Obama was present yesterday in Chicago as the demonstration was taking place.

López Ramos has a daughter, Karina, who is now 25, who was only able to meet her grandfather through visits to jail —currently the Terre Haute jail in Indiana.

“Our biggest wish is for my dad to be able to spend time outside jail with us and with his family, and that we can walk down the streets of Puerto Rico hand in hand”, López Ramos said. But she’s aware that time is running out: once the elections are held on November 8, President Obama will have only 72 days left in the White House.

López Rivera was arrested in May 1981 and convicted mainly under the charge of sedition due to his links to the FALN.

In 1999, López Rivera rejected an offer of pardon by President Bill Clinton because it didn’t include two of his comrades. The pardon freed 12 other political prisoners of the FALN and Los Macheteros.

Once his comrades Haydée Beltrán and Carlos Alberto Torres were freed, López Rivera requested a pardon to Obama in September 2011. If he hadn’t had solidarity with his comrades, he would be free since 2009.

The campaign for the freedom of López Rivera is backed by personalities such as Nobel Peace Prize reverend Desmond Tutu, former president of Uruguay José “Pepe” Mujica, governor of Puerto Rico Alejandro García Padilla, Washington commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, and every candidate to governor, commissioner, legislator or mayor, and religious, civic and union leaders.

Oscar’s brother, José López Rivera, who is a University professor and community leader based in Chicago, also spoke in the act and expressed his confidence in that “we’re at the final stage of this struggle”.

Around 1,000 people attended the march. Many came from Puerto Rico and others from New York, Massachusetts, Pensilvania, Connecticut, Illinois and other states.

“He’s our Nelson Mandela”, Puertorican democrat Luis Gutiérrez (Illionios), said. Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, from San Juan, said “it makes me furious that he’s kept behind bars because his soul has an amazing freedom”.

Congressman Mark Viverito said “we must continue putting pressure on President Obama”.