By Ana Lopez, NYC Coordinadora to Free Oscar Lopez Rivera
On June 23rd, 2014 during the Special Committee of 24 on Decolonization, the call for the immediate release of political prisoner Oscar López Rivera reigned. Sixteen (16) petitioners demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Oscar López Rivera. A few asked for a pause in deliberations for 33 seconds, in honor of Mr. López Rivera’s 33-year struggle for justice. Oscar send a special message read by Ana M. Lopez at the United Nations calling for the creation of “a united front to create a decolonization project to resolve the status question of Puerto Rico” ( See full text below). Many petitioners and friends during lunch intermission from 1-3pm took to the 8 hour vigil and rally outside the United Nations sponsored by NY Coordinator to Free Oscar López Rivera and United Comrades to Decolonize Puerto Rico. The people that took turns and did 33 minutes in the “imagined prison cell” in solidarity with Oscar Lopez Rivera were : Iris Colón (La Coordinadora) , Jesus Mangual ( La Fundacion Andres Figueroa Cordero) , Ana M. López ( La Coordinadora), Jose López Sierra (Companeros Unidos por Descolonizacion de Puerto Rico) , Lourdes Garcia ( 33 mujeres X Oscar), Fernando Ponce Laspina ( la coordinadora & El Maestro), Camilo Matos (la Coordinadora & Partido Nacionalista), Richard Lopez, Vivian Natal (community activist), Elspeth Meyer (la Coordinadora & Resistance in Brooklyn) , Roberto Mercado (photographer), Carmen Morales, Julio Rolón ( community activist), Miguel Antonio Reyes, Evaristo Silva Cintrón, Jose L. Nieves, Ismael Muller Vazquez (Frente Socialista), Juan G. Pedrosa (familia de Evelino Gonzalez Claudio) and others. The rally from 1:45-3:00 pm was spirited and counted with the participation of groups that did go together in the “cell” were folks like Sonia Santiago, Dilma, Madres Contra la Guerra, Olga Sanabria, Digna Sanchez ( Comité de PR en ONU), Eduardo Villanueva ( Comité de Derechos Humanos de PR), Jerry Segarra, Wilson Soto ( Partido Nacionalista de PR), Eric Ramos (PIP), Maria de Lourdes Guzman (MUS), Jan Susler (Oscar’s lawyer) Martin Koppel (SWP) and many others.Spirited chants like “this is year 33, Oscar López Rivera must be free” were echoed. Many passerby signed petition from different countries. The rally was covered by the local press and TeleSur TV.
The resolution was very specific: The Special Committee on Decolonization on June 23rd called on the United States to again expedite a process that would allow the people of Puerto Rico to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, as well as take decisions, in a sovereign manner, to address their economic and social needs.
By a resolution approved by consensus, the Committee would have the General Assembly urge the United States to complete the return of occupied land and installations on Vieques Island and in Ceiba to Puerto Rico, respect fundamental human rights and cover the costs of decontaminating areas previously used in military exercises.
Also by the text, the Special Committee – formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples – would have the Assembly reiterate its request to release Oscar López Rivera and Norberto Gonzalez Claudio. Both individuals were political prisoners serving sentences in the United States for cases relating to the struggle for Puerto Rican independence. The text also expressed concern about the actions carried out against Puerto Rican independence fighters and encouraged an investigation of those actions.
The Assembly, by other terms, would reaffirm the inalienable right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence, and reiterate that the Puerto Rican people constituted a Latin American and Caribbean nation with its own unequivocal national identity.
Costa Rica introduced the resolution of CELAC reiterating Puerto Rico’s Latin American and Caribbean nature. This was echoed by Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador.
The Special Committee suspended hearings of petitioners and moved to statements from Committee members regarding the resolution presented by the representative of Cuba. These are summaries of each country that spectators and petitioners gave rounds of applauses: (text taken directly from the resolution)
GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed support for the right of Puerto Ricans to self-determination and independence on the basis of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV). That colonial question had been under consideration by the Special Committee for more than 39 years, with 32 resolutions or decisions already adopted by the Committee. While welcoming the consensus adoption of those texts over the last decade, the Movement called on the United States to expedite a process that would allow Puerto Ricans to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence and return the occupied land and installations of Vieques Island and at the Roosevelt Road Naval Station to the Puerto Rican people.
JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said the death penalty should not apply to Puerto Rican freedom fighters imprisoned in the United States. Efforts should continue until Puerto Rico became a member of CELAC and the United Nations. Thirty-two resolutions and decisions had been adopted, with many by consensus. He expressed solidarity within the Latin and Caribbean region, which should become one free of colonialism, as it was now the third international decade of eradicating colonialism. With 25 July marking the 116th anniversary of intervention by the United States, it was time to put an end to rooting natural resources and other exploitations.
SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela), noting that five decades had passed since the adoption of resolution 1514 (XV), said colonialism had prevented Puerto Rico from building a free society. At the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States summit in Havana, Cuba, Venezuela had promoted Puerto Rico’s participation as an observer. The outcome document from that summit emphasized that Puerto Ricans had their own national identity, and that the General Assembly should examine all aspects of the question of Puerto Rico. Latin America and the Caribbean should be free from colonialism. Venezuela supported the release of Oscar López Rivera, who had been held for 33 years, and was pleased to co-sponsor the resolution.
IHAB HAMED (Syria) said 25 July would mark the anniversary of United States intervention in Puerto Rico. Numerous resolutions had reaffirmed Puerto Ricans’ right to self-determination, in line with resolution 1514 (XV). The United States must accelerate the process whereby Puerto Ricans could exercise their inalienable right to independence and self-determination. Those who had spoken out had faced violence, intimidation and arrest. Recalling that Syria had always supported the position of the Non-Aligned Movement on the matter, he urged the United States to abide by today’s resolution, create conditions conducive to the exercise of Puerto Ricans’ inalienable rights, and release the detainees for defending those rights.
LUIS MAURICIO ARANCIBIA FERNÁNDEZ (Bolivia) stressed the importance of strengthening multilateralism in the context of Puerto Rico’s right to self-determination and independence. He also noted a series of resolutions of the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) on implementing the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples as well as the outcome of the second Summit of CELAC Heads of State. He urged the United States Government to assume its responsibility to expedite a process that would allow Puerto Ricans to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence and return the occupied land and facilities to the Puerto Rican people.
JOSÉ EDUARDO PROAÑO (Ecuador) said the second Summit by Heads of CELAC in Havana had recognized the Latin and Caribbean nature of Puerto Rico and reaffirmed its commitment to become a region without any colony. The United States Government should comply with General Assembly resolution 1514 and accelerate a process that would allow Puerto Ricans to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence. He also called for the immediate release of political prisoners, including Oscar López Rivera.
CAROL VIVIANA ARCE ECHEVERRÍA (Costa Rica), speaking for CELAC, said the Latin American and Caribbean character of Puerto Rico was highlighted in January at the organization’s summit in Havana. The Community was committed to working in the context of international law, particularly resolution 1514 (XV), to free the region from colonialism.