30 Years of Resistance: NBHRN Commemorates Legacy of Political Prisoners at “Jornada 360”



Magdaleno Castañeda

On April 3 National Boricua Human Rights Network (NBHRN) hosted “Jornada 360: A Commemoration of 360 Months of Incarceration and a Celebration of Resistance,” which brought people of all ages from both the community and beyond to recognize the activism and resistance of the Puerto Rican political prisoners and those who have worked towards their release. The event, which was held at Batey Urbano, showcased art work by the political prisoners and literature about their case which comprised an exhibition that covered every inch of the walls inside the Batey.

The event included reflections by former prisoners Alicia Rodríguez, Luis Rosa and Ricardo Jiménez, as well as family members of the prisoners and lawyers who have dedicated themselves to defending the release of the political prisoners, including Jan Susler. This celebration also served to continue raising awareness and support for Oscar López Rivera and Carlos Alberto Torres, who have spent 30 years in prison making them two of the longest held political prisoners in the world.

“Jornada 360” began with Michelle Morales, coordinator of NBHRN, welcoming the audience and introducing former political prisoner Alicia Rodríguez. “It’s good to be here and look at the faces of people that challenge the system,” said Rodríguez. She added, “This is a moment to reflect and give gratitude to all those years of struggle.” Rodríguez congratulated the community for “flourishing and expressing the spirit of Oscar and Alberto,” and noted that her ability to be physically present at the event was a testament to the tenacity of the campaign to free the prisoners. Before ending her reflection, Rodríguez addressed the youth in the audience. “When there is nobody to turn to, you must turn to yourself,” she said. “The ability to endure needs to be passed on to the next generation.” 

Luis Rosa was the second former prisoner onstage and in his reflection he acknowledged all the support received by family and friends. “Sometimes we get credit for a lot of things, but there are people who do not get credit and they carry the same burden and do time with us,” he said. Rosa also applauded the community for continuing the legacy of the political prisoners. “It pleases me to see young faces here. If anything guarantees that we will be here tomorrow, it’s you.”

Ricardo Jiménez was the last former political prisoner presented onstage after being “symbolically released,” as Michelle Morales stated, from a of a prison cell located in front of the Batey. Jiménez was the last of 15 individuals who spent 24 hours in the prison cell in solidarity with Carlos Alberto Torres and Oscar López Rivera. Jiménez thanked everyone for supporting the campaign, in particular the Puerto Rican Cultural Center Executive Director José López and Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School Principal Matthew Rodríguez. Following Jiménez’s reflection the audience sang happy birthday to Jiménez, who was presented with three birthday cakes.

López was next onstage and he invoked the presence of his mother and brother Oscar López Rivera in awarding original silk screens from several of the prisoners to community leaders Irma Romero, Michelle Morales, Alejandro Molina and Jaime Delgado in gratitude for their commitment to the campaign to free the political prisoners and their dedication to the Humboldt Park community. The recipients were both surprised and thankful for receiving the beautiful artwork. Regarding the campaign López said, “These 30 years have been of continuous work without a day of rest.” “Jornada 360” was a well deserved celebration of these three decades of sacrifice and resistance, and also served as motivation to keep on working for the release of Oscar and Carlos Alberto because as López said, “To be fully human, is to be fully free.”

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