“How can a Puerto Rican be seditious towards the U.S. state when we never had any part in electing a U.S. government official?
These words were spoken, in October of last year, by a man who has spent 35 years in prison and 12 in solitary confinement not for the violent act that got him here but for seditious conspiracy.
Oscar Lopez Rivera will be free in four months as President Obama commuted his sentence, the last acts of an outgoing president. Rivera is considered a political prisoner by many over the years who understood his motivations as part of the FALN which conducted bombings and killings, though in 1983 they renounced violence as a means of pursuing independence from the United States yet casualties were incurred opening the door to arrests of members of that organization.
His actions were an extension of the outcry of a Puerto Rico which is a territory of the United States that through the Jones Act of 1917 bestowed citizenship, not to have a vote for president or to even have a voting member in Congress, but to be available to contribute troops to the U.S Armed Forces in all their wars past and present. U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill) is just happy he will walk again as a free man.
“Oscar is a friend, mentor and family to me and he and his brother Jose have been that for my entire life.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of “Hamilton” cried tears of joy upon hearing the news tweeting.
“Sobbing with gratitude here in London. OSCAR LOPEZ RIVERA IS COMING HOME. THANK YOU.”
Though the gesture was welcome, the problem remains. He was never formally charged with a direct role in the bombings. Eight years ago he passed on a pardon from then-president Bill Clinton on behalf of two more prisoners who were not included. Some are unhappy, many are pleased but with Oscar Rivera back among the people, he will remind them what has always been at stake, their own identity.