by Eduardo Arocho
The march held on Saturday, November 23rd brought together a broad sector of the Puerto Rican population to show a unified voice to the rest of the world and continued pressure on the Obama Administration to release Oscar Lopez Rivera. Present at this march were elected officials from the pro-statehood party (PNP), Mayor Maria “Mayita” Melendez Altieri, Mayor Carmen Yulin (PPD) of San Juan as well as, Congressmen Luis Gutierrez of Chicago and Congressmen Nydia Velasquez of New York. In addition , a message was read by Congressman Jose Serrano, also of New York.
“It was a great success,” says Clarisa Lopez, daughter of Oscar Lopez Rivera. “For a long time we were not able to come to a consensus on a date for the march. But we did it and who came out? All of the political parties, students, religious leaders, people on wheel chairs, canes and walkers. Whole families.” Said Clarisa with great satisfaction.
Since May of this year there have been many manifestations for the release of Oscar, most notably the 24-hour demonstration where volunteers remained confined to 6ft x 9ft mock-up prison cells intended to represent Lopez Rivera’s current cell size in Terre Haute, IN. The demonstrations took place on May 29, 2013 at the central squares of Puerto Rico’s four largest cities, as well as, similar demonstrations in major cities in the United States. Former Political Prisoner Edwin Cortes, who is part of the “32 Por Oscar” Committee and the Comite Pro Derechos Humanos that helped organize both the march and the jail cell demonstration said, “the participation of statehood mayor Maria Melendez in the jail cell helped to dismiss a lot of fear among people…before the 24 hours were over there were so many people wanting to go into the cell that they had to cut down the time each person spent inside to minutes.”
The Marchers gathered in front of the Federal Court House in Hato Rey and culminated an hour later at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium where a musical event was held in honor of Oscar Lopez. Many of Puerto Rico’s famous artist like singer Danny Rivera and Antonio Martorrell among others came out to march on a sunny 85 degree afternoon, when the heat was most intense. One of the most exiting moments was when Oscar Lopez himself called from prison and was able to speak with the marchers and the people along the march as well as during the cultural performance at the end of the March.
Clarisa Lopez who was leading chants during the march said that her roll was mainly to be Oscar Lopez Rivera’s daughter. “I want people to keep in mind that Oscar is a father and a grandfather and that our relationship continues even while in prison” Clarisa continues, “I dream of the day when my father will be in my house spending time together.”
Until then Clarisa insists that we must continue to spread the word both nationally and internationally and add more voices to make one great voice.