By CLARIDAD Board of Directors
To meet his responsibility in the demand for the release of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, governor Alejandro García Padilla didn’t have to visit him. He could have limited himself, as some of his predecessors did in similar situations, to more common gestures, such as making a public expression or sending a letter to the president of the United States. This governor has gone beyone that; he went to meet with the patriot in a remote and harsh prison where our brother is being held. There is no doubt that the gesture was different because Oscar López Rivera’s case is also a different.
All the cruelty of the Empire’s political and prison system has been thrown his way, with the perverse intention of extending his punishment and warning the rest of us, as if written in stone, that is exactly how we will be treated if we insist on denouncing the United States as a colonial power and combating the politically and economically inferior condition this domination has created.
For the government of the United States, Oscar López Rivera is an uncomfortable prisoner, just as it is uncomfortable that there are Puerto Ricans who keep denouncing and fighting colonialism and struggling for the independence of our nation. Even worse, it’s an undeniable problem for them that the majority of Puerto Ricans keep seeing themselves as Puerto Rican and feeling proud of it, independently of their ideological and political preferences. That’s why they insist on wanting to treat Oscar’s case as if he were any run-of-the-mill prisoner. Also, whenever they have the occasion in their official comuniqués or statements, they refer to us as “United States citizens living in Puerto Rico,” with the obvious intention of ignoring the reality of our nationality, which is unique and different from theirs and from the rest of the world’s.
In the face of that arrogant and indifferent conduct, in the face of the imperial gesture of devaluing our existence and even wanting to erase it, the symbolic value of the governor of Puerto Rico’s gesture should not be underestimated. Alejandro García Padilla and Oscar López Rivera met as Puerto Rican nationals, and, although they don’t politically and ideologically agree, and although their visions of the world are diametrically different, they do share a community of affections, thoughts, and feelings that have forged us as a people. Rising above their differences, the patriot thanked the governor who had traveled so far to visit, setting the tone for a meeting characterized by cordiality and respect.
The release of Oscar López Rivera, 71 years old, having served more than 33 years in prison, is an urgent humanitarian demand for a political prisoner whose experience in jail has softened his spirit, elevated his personal, intellectual and spiritual growth, consolidated the strength of his convictions, and turned him into an example for all Puerto Ricans of good will. That is why so many thousands of Puerto Ricans have thrown themselves into asking the president of the United States, Barack Obama, to grant the immediate release of the Puerto Rican prisoner, a demand that has been seconded by governor García Padilla, resident commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, four ex-governors of Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican members of Congress in the United States: Nydia Velázquez, José Serrano and Luis Gutiérrez, and figures of great international prestige, including five Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
CLARIDAD feels it is urgent that every effort be redoubled to achieve Oscar López Rivera’s return home. For this reason, we welcome any action, such as the recent gesture of the governor, that can be a factor that motivates the president of the United States to grant our patriot the requested clemency. At a time like this, we shouldn’t lose time in cheap partisan political considerations, and even less in infantile questioning of the motivations of those who do more for this cause. That is what Oscar’s example teaches us.