By José Velazquez, NJ Committee to Free Oscar López Rivera
Representatives from the Free Oscar Lopez Rivera committees throughout the United States met in Chicago on Saturday, August 15th, 2015 to discuss a plan of action for 2015 – 2016 to free Oscar Lopez Rivera (OLR). Represented at the meeting were Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Cleveland, Ohio, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The meeting was privileged to have in attendance former political prisoners, Edwin Cortes, Ricardo Jimenez, Luis Rosa, and Felix Rosa.
The meeting began with a discussion of the political moment in Puerto Rico, the United States, and Latin America, led by Jose Lopez (Chicago) and Jan Susler, attorney for OLR, in order to place the campaign to free OLR within a wider political content. The political and economic crisis in Puerto Rico, and the upcoming 2016 presidential elections in the United States will be key moments for the Puerto Rican Diaspora to exercise political power, including inserting in this process the universal demand for the release of OLR. In this regard, a meeting of Puerto Rican political leadership is being planned for this October, to be held in Orlando, Florida to map out a national Puerto Rican agenda.
Jan Susler spoke on the international and national efforts to free Oscar Lopez Rivera, highlighting recent resolutions of support by the NYC Council, the United Auto Workers, and overtures that are being conducted during Pope Francis’ visit to New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Susler indicated that our work must be aimed at providing “fertile ground” for President Obama to take action to free OLR.
The various OLR committees presented written reports on their work and future plans. As a result of the meeting, a consensus was reached to strengthen the local outreach, as opposed to working on a mobilization to Washington, D.C. A goal of completing our petition drive to reach 100,000 was adopted. The committees were urged to continue to broaden their support among the Puerto Rican Diaspora, and among all political sectors in the United Sates, especially in light of the present electoral period.