Gay Latino Activists Share, Hear Osvaldo’s Story

By Roberto Sanabria, Puerto Rican Cultural Center Board of Directors

Osvaldo Burgos Pérez came to Chicago to meet the Puerto Rican community, to offer his solidarity, and to visit political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. Mr. Burgos-Pérez’ is a gay activist/attorney whose work in Puerto Rico has involved anti-death penalty legislation, HIV prevention, and human rights. He is the past President of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International in Puerto Rico, and is currently the spokesperson for CABE, whose acronym translates as Broad Committee for the Search for Equity. CABE began as an organization lobbying for two bills in the Puerto Rican legislature; one concerned equal protection of the LGBT community the other concerned protection for victims of domestic same-sex violence. CABE is not a LGBT organization, but an eclectic group that includes the Puerto Rican Bar Association, other law groups, social workers, public health workers, NGO’s, as well as LGBT organizations. On the back of this formidable alliance, both bills passed the legislature in 2013. CABE had more work to do, however, so it could not disband.

As the spokesperson for CABE, Mr. Pérez-Burgos attended a reception in his honor in a home on the Paseo Boricua where he met and engaged in a discussion with leaders from Chicago’s Latino LGBT community. Those present discussed immigration reform, HIV/AIDS, racism, as well as anti-LGBT violence. Mr. Burgos-Pérez explained that the Island of Puerto Rico, regardless of political affiliation, was rallying around the excarceration of Oscar López Rivera. He spoke of CABE’s vision to unite disparate struggles into a coherent unmovable force. He invited those in the room (on this side of our Diaspora) to join the increasingly broad movement to free Oscar López Rivera, whom he described as, “The freest man I’ve met – despite his being in jail.”
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