Capilla del Barrio and NBHRN Celebrates Oscar’s 71st Birthday: A Call to Renew and Redouble Efforts to Free Him

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La Capilla del Barrio and the National Boricua Human Rights Network celebrated Oscar’s birthday Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, braving over 18 inches of continuous snow and rapidly dropping temperatures. The birthday celebration and Three Kings Mass, in its 6th Annual Year, began with Pastor Windsor’s welcoming and the invocation. The Capilla kids performed an original Three Kings skit. Then a delegation from Adalberto Methodist Church read a gift, a message from Rev. Coleman, which Tanya Coleman Lozano read, “Just as in the time of Jesus, a government kills and locks away in prison those who refuse to compromise with injustice because they fear their example will inspire an oppressed people also stand on their Today, we remember that Joseph acted on faith when he married a single mother. We recall that Mary acted on faith when she received the gift of a child that would come to save her people. And we recall that they risked their lives to protect this child. So today we honor those who struggle in faith to form the family of families, the communities in resistance, from which will come a new generation of struggle, a “messiah” generation, which will inspire the world to stand against injustice and oppression. Malcolm said, we are all in prison and all of us will continue to live in the shadow of the compromise of human potential as long as we submit to a system in which Puerto Rico is denied self-determination, as long as 11 million people and their families are denied equality under the law, as long as Latin America is kept in dependency – for these are all just symptoms of a diseased society that refuses the Kingdom of God, offered freely to those who will open their hearts.

Yet those who stand on their faith, who walk in the footsteps of Jesus, who accept the mission to organize communities of resistance so that a Messiah generation can be born, – these are living already in the Kingdom of God. Like Oscar, they are already free. No prison walls, no borders, can separate those bound together in faith and freedom. Today we are with Oscar – today we are free!“.

Morales read the 8th of Oscar’s 14 letters to his granddaughter that have been published in the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia, translated into English and posted to the Network website. Michelle read the letter entitled In the Face of Fear, “…My mother was sick and elderly. She was the one who had kept me informed about my brothers and sisters and the rest of the family in Puerto Rico. The most painful was not being able to talk with my daughter, who was then a child. Since she barely knew me, she related little to me over the phone. When I had visits, they kept me from having physical contact with my family. I even remember the first time my mother visited me, your great-grandmother, who broke out in tears when she saw me shackled on the other side of the glass. I told her then that she had to be strong and contain her tears so as not to let the jailers know that this program had affected the whole family. From then on, when she visited me, I saw her press her lips together and contain her tears. She did not let one more tear fall in my presence. She was a brave Puerto Rican woman.”

As the celebration drew to an end, Pastor Windsor called the youth present to gather around the birthday cake La Capilla had made for Oscar, and the crowd sang Happy Birthday to Oscar. José E. López, Oscar’s brother and Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, closed the event by bringing forth the memory of our heroic Irma Romero, who passed away Jan. 11, 2013 and her activism in our communities, her solidarity with Oscar and the struggle of the Puerto Rican people, her decades-long struggle with cancer, and her unceasing, optimistic outlook. Pastor Windsor then invited everyone to partake of the birthday cake and said he hoped he would NOT see us next year! Short video available!

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