The day we became a nation: García Padilla visits Oscar López
By Daniel Nina
Last Saturday, October 4, without having announced it, the governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro García Padilla, went to the federal prison in Terre Haute (high ground, in Spanish), in the state of Indiana, and met with Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. He went out to pay a visit to Rivera López, out of his moral and collective conviction that this imprisonment, after 33 years, of someone convicted of non-violent acts, “is excessive.” Even more, the governor pointed out by way of a press release, that “his appearance at this meeting was as a representative of the people of Puerto Rico.” In other words, it wasn’t about a singular “I,” but about a collective “I.” We the people, as the first sentence of the Constitution of the Free Associated State of Puerto Rico says so well.
We don’t know the importance of this meeting. It was an official visit. The governor sought permission as the governor of the Island to see one of its citizens most affected by a fact that is now recognized as injustice. The governor didn’t go to see him as a private attorney; that would be a violation of the Law of Governmental Ethics. Nor did he go to see him as a friend. He went to see him as governor, and considering that Oscar López Rivera is a citizen of Puerto Rico, which has been acknowledged since the Treaty of Paris in 1898. That gesture, then, has monumental significance: in the absence of a State, one is only citizen of a nation.
We value, then, the hidden languages of the act carried out by the governor last Saturday. That is why the fact that the governor declared that he went in the name of that social collective called the People of Puerto Rico takes on such importance. It isn’t something without meaning, we repeat: it is the affirmation of a will called people, that represents a differentiated identity, being the nation, and that values its sons and daughters as citizens of Puerto Rico.
Given that it was an official vist, we would now like a transcript of what governor García Padilla and Oscar López Rivera talked about. It has to do with a conversation that isn’t privileged, in which we, the Puerto Rican nation, were part of. Therefore, we deserve to know what they talked about. Why? Because it would help us understand the forms and ways that national subjects, who are sovereign, are being shaped.
By this act, which is a historic fact and unique in its class, Governor Alejandro García Padilla became strong as chief of State. This is quite an statement, in spite of not having a State, sovereignty or independence. Cosas veréis*.
* In the old Spanish language tradition, “things you will see”.