Happy Birthday Oscar Lopez Rivera!!
- The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign
New Jersey 201-435-3244
HAPPY BIRTHDAY OSCAR LOPEZ RIVERA!! JANUARY 6TH, 2005 OSCAR WILL BE TURNING
62 YEARS YOUNG!! Make sure to wish Oscar a great birthday by sending him a
card or letter to:
Oscar Lopez Rivera
P.O. Box 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808
and send him a commissary donation (MONEY ORDERS ONLY WITH HIS NAME AND
PRISON NUMBER PRINTED ON IT) to:
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Oscar L�pez (#87651-024)
PO Box 474701
Des Moines IA 50947-0001
Oscar Lopez Rivera: A Special Interview for Claridad
Eduardo Villanueva/Special to Claridad Newspaper Translated by Frank Velgara
Today, October 15, 2004, Terre Haute, Indiana, in the U.S., I am visiting
and conversing with Oscar Lopez Rivera, one of our political prisoners and a
remnant of the days of The Cold War.
He is 61 years old, small in build and has the stature of our traditional
Puerto Rican peasant farmers. He has a strong complexion with black eyes
that glitter sharply and seem to be deeply piercing like the scalpel of an
experienced surgeon. He has a full mustache that he takes care of
meticulously and a well combed pony tail in his hair that is barely
noticeable in the scarce hair on his strikingly strong head.
His innate timidity falls away after breaking the ice and he embarks on a
profound conversation which is logical, coherent and ingenious and seems to
negate the effects of 23 years of incarceration. During these 23 years, he
served 12 years in Marion one of the cruelest and most inhumane prisons in
the world. He has been deprived of physical contact, and limited in his
phone calls and visits in an attempt to break an indomitable spirit that is
always with him and is reflected in each action in his rich and complex
He is a man of courage, self-taught, and disciplined. He is willing to
methodically organize the oppressed masses that languish in the Diaspora in
the United States and who are suffocated by racism and the hatred that
imperialism unleashes against all those who challenge its hegemony.
From the beginning you are impressed that throughout an extensive
conversation that covers topics such as history, literature, sports,
sociology and spiritual agnosticism, you seem to be with a Catholic
Protestant, who is not interested in fishing for votes. You don�t hear
complaints, pessimism, feelinga of hatred or resentment coming from the
suffering he has had to endure because of his love of the homeland and his
revolutionary vocation. Oscar never complains nor does he engage in long
lamentations of all that he has had to suffer in prison because of his
Few people know in detail the physical isolation and sensory deprivation
that he was subjected to at Marion. Few also know what the jailers at
Florence subjected Oscar to during his first 6 years of imprisonment there.
For 58 days they woke him every 30 minutes with a bright light in order to
deprive him of any rest and to prevent him from getting any uninterrupted
sleep. These are barbaric acts that only a spirit who is committed to the
highest ideals of freedom can endure in the name of the love for his people.
Few people in the so-called free community are better informed than Oscar
about the reality of his country. He is familiar with all the ideological
tendencies in the independence movement, their views and leaders, their
weaknesses and strengths. He recognizes the persistence, honesty,
dedication and patriotism of leaders whose activity he has followed and
carefully studied. He condemns that fact that some political movements
have become so bureaucratized and sometimes to the point of risking
disappearing altogether. But he recognizes that the diversity of the
struggle and implementation of tactics and strategy have made it impossible
for the empire to exterminate us despite all their repressive strategies and
actions. They have been unleashed against us and are directed at violating
our civil rights and our right to self-determination.
By listening respectfully and reflecting on his thinking and views, you can
clearly come to understand why his jailers and U.S. intelligence agencies
fear him to the point that they fabricated a supposed escape attempt in
order to lengthen his sentence to 78 years in jail which is what it is
Oscar enjoys writing to the youth with whom he is in contact. They benefit
from his teaching abilities and his self-taught knowledge. Some professors
invite Oscar to contact their students so that they can deepen their
understanding of the political process in Puerto Rico, colonialism, the
anti-imperialist struggle, the need for revolutionary changes and the
dialectical process that allows a political prisoner to transform his
incarceration and his separation from his loved ones into an experience of
liberation and personal growth.
Oscar is very aware of his role as a patriotic role model although he
doesn�t mention it or brag about it. That is why in his writings he is
careful not to promote farfetched or irresponsible ideas and to reject ideas
that promote any personality cult. He rejects this because he considers it
pure vanity and because he has learned from the negative impact that it has
had in the ongoing revolutionary struggle for social change as it pertains
to other political leaders.
In thinking about his role with youth I would dare say that Oscar believes
as does Benedetti that: �the moral health and spiritual clarity of a young
person will be the probable guarantee that the continuation of life will
likely be clean and honest� (Benedetti, Memoria y Esperanza, P�g. 28).
I reflect upon the experience of being in such intense proximity to the soul
of an incarcerated patriot and I think of the inexorable and
incomprehensible absurdity that the freedom of the homeland demands such
painful steps in its movement forward -- the existence of political
prisoners. I believe that today as always the people have a moral
obligation to demand that they all return home.
The author is a lawyer, President of the Human Rights Committee and a Member
of the Civil Rights Commission of Puerto Rico.