CELEBRATIONS IN NEW YORK’S BARRIOS -a decolonizing experience


by Ana M. Lopez In Manhattan on January 17, 2017 an impromptu celebration took place in “La Marqueta” in East Harlem to celebrate the news of President Obama commuting Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera sentence and projected release on May 17, 2017 without conditions. Over 100 gathered with their “panderos” (hand drums) to improvise new lyrics of Oscar’s release. On January 21, 2017, while massive numbers, the majority women, took to the streets in NY, DC and many cities in the US and Europe protesting Trumps’ presidency, we celebrated a peoples’ victory the clemency of our beloved Oscar López Rivera in El Maestro Cultural Center in the South Bronx with songs and poetry “cantos y poesias”. This is just one of the many celebrations that took place in the diaspora, Chicago, Philadelphia, Ohio, NY & Connecticut and in Puerto Rico. Various musicians came together to played typical Puerto Rican songs and “baladas”. Iris Colón sang “Verde Luz” and the “La Borinqueña” with other singers. Armando Pacheco recited poetry of Clemente Soto Velez and Lloren Torres. Ponce Laspina, Executive Director of El Maestro gave thanks to all involved in the campaign to free Oscar. We had special messages from William Camargo from Venezuela, Rafael Capellán, of the Dominican Republic, Seth Galinsky of SWP and local organizations. Prof. Ana M. López, spokesperson for the NY Coordinator to Free Oscar, gave a brief analysis of the impact of Oscar’s freedom campaign, its creative strategy, its decolonization significance and how it is a model to be followed for other political prisoners. We were all sharing our reactions when we heard the news about Pres. Obama commutation of sentence for Oscar and projected release date of May 17th. Many cried, screamed, hollered, jumped up and down and some were speechless. I reaffirmed that the feeling we all felt of happiness with tears is what I called “the beginning of decolonization”. In fact, under international law, one of the pre-conditions to decolonization of a colony is the release of political prisoners. Another is demilitarization and the transference of power. We can say that the decolonization process has begun. We await the celebration for May 17, 2017 when Oscar will be finally free to be with his family and see the sea. On January 29, 2017, the 35mujeresnycXOscar will continue their monthly rallies until Oscar is really home. We will be meeting at Times Square area (44th street) and 7th Ave.

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