In an incredible people’s victory, Oscar Lopez Rivera and Chelsea Manning had their sentences commuted as one of the President Obama’s last acts. Oscar was a member of the FALN, convicted of seditious conspiracy. He and his comrades refused to recognize the jurisdiction of the US courts over their case, citing International Law on the rights of the colonized to fight for their liberation. Oscar was the longest held Latino political prisoner and his case garnered international support and united the various parties in Puerto Rico who called for his release.
The people of Puerto Rico welcomed Oscar on May 17. That day he said he wore black because in prison he could never wear black in mourning after the death of comrades and loved ones, including the death of his mother; in solidarity with the LGBTQ community on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia; in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement; for the love of his people and their struggle for sovereignty; in solidarity with all the political prisoners he left behind in U.S. prisons and around the world; and in solidarity with the students of the University of Puerto Rico, who had been on strike for weeks.
During his hectic travel schedule across the US he mentioned his shock at the gentrification going on in PR and the depopulation of the island along with the brain drain of young Puerto Rican professionals. He repeatedly thanked all the people who helped in his liberation including the international community, particularly Cuba and Venezuela. In Chicago there was a very powerful speech by Rasmeah Odeh who spoke of the similarities in the struggles of their peoples.
Here in the Bay Area, at least 750 people welcomed Oscar in an extremely moving event where Oscar spoke, thanking people for decades of support for him and the independence of PR. The FB page Welcome Oscar to the Bay Area has a video of the event as well as many articles about Oscar, Puerto Rico, and videos of Oscar’s appearances.