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What it Means to be Puerto Rican for Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera

At a time when there are more Puerto Ricans living outside the island, questions on what it means to be Puerto Rican become essential. A letter written by Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera deals with just that.

In it, he offers his views on

Photo from Facebook page Free Oscar López Rivera.

Photo from Facebook page Free Oscar López Rivera.

Puerto Rican identities. This letter is the first entry in a newly created section of the online magazine La Respuesta, dedicated to writings by and about Oscar López Rivera. Here is an excerpt:

To be Puerto Rican means to me to carry out all the responsibilities that our citizenship demands. It means to struggle to keep our culture, our language, our history, our idiosyncrasies, our music, our dances, our culinary skills, and our roots alive, and to decolonize our minds and our homeland. It means that we should struggle to protect and preserve everything that defines the Puerto Rican nation.

The diasporic identities aren’t synonymous with Puerto Rican identity. i’m not a Nuyorican. i have lived in this country for over five and a half decades. i speak both languages, but Spanish remains my primary language. In the late 60′s a handful of Puerto Ricans put together a journal called ‘the Rican.’ i thought the name was an error. It didn’t survive because just a handful of Ricans read it and identified with it. i use Spanglish like many other diasporic Puerto Ricans do. i enjoy the poetry of Pedro Pietri and the plays written by Miguel Piñero. i believe many diasporic Boricuas can identify with Spanglish, and we can be sure it will continue morphing and evolving.

Oscar López Rivera has been imprisoned in the United States for over thirty years because of his political beliefs. López Rivera, 71, has been imprisoned for 33 years in the United States charged with “seditious conspiracy” and “conspiracy to escape” for which he received a 70-year sentence. He is a fighter for the independence of Puerto Rico, a colony of the United States. Politicians, artists, and many people across different ideologies have united to ask US President Barack Obama to pardon López Rivera, who has been called the longest held political prisoner in the western hemisphere. 

To find out more, please read our previous coverage here, herehere, and here.

  • Pingback: What it Means to be Puerto Rican for Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera | Freedom, Justice, Equality News()

  • Joe

    More specifically, he was convicted of seditious conspiracy and attempting to escape plus a few other charges: robbery, interstate transportation of firearms, and conspiracy to transport explosives. He refused an offer of clemency from President Clinton in 1999.

    If you exercise your political beliefs with firearms and explosives – by, for example, planting bombs in hotels and robbing armored tricks – then you belong in prison, in my opinion.

    • X

      I see your point but at the same time following the rules set up by their colonizer won’t grant you freedom. The US is holding Puerto Rico as a colony and some have answered the call of the action toward the US. All colonized people have the right to combat their colonizer and to take up arms. The crimes they committed are miniscule compared to the crimes committed by the United States against the people of Puerto Rico. Learn about the history of your country and how it oppresses others in your name.

      • messy1a

        There have been several referenda over the years, and independence never got more than five percent. The government of Puerto Rico has been deomcratically elected for many decades now. The last appointed governor left office in the 1940s.

        • Rose Marie Arroyo Mendez

          Puerto Rico is over crowed with foreigners that are illegally allowed by the United States gov. to vote in Pto. Rico because they have USA citizenship (a violation to international laws applied to colonies), so therefore, those referendums do not count. Democratically??? How is it that a colony is a democracy?? How is it that the United States is a democracy when they invade, bombs, murders, commits genocides.. to steal.. democracy??? Now you know how the USA became the riches country in the world.. stealing!!! Viva Puerto Rico Libre.. Viva Oscar Lopez Rivera!!!

          • What international law? Of course the referendumns count. They counted when Alaska and Hawaii became states. BTW, Puerto Rico hasn’t been “independent” since before Columbus got there in 1492.

      • mlpo

        There has been vote after vote after vote on Puerto Rico’s status and independence. In 2012, the independence option got 5.5% of the vote. Statehood is a far more popular option.

        • X

          Yes it is but look at the history of the independence party and how the US & Puerto Rico’s government have repressed the movements through the gag law and the citzenship that was imposed on Ricans to discourage them from revolting and siding with the independence movement, then two months after that 20,000 Ricans were drafted to fight in a WW1 and for a president they can’t even vote for. Puerto Ricans that live in Boriken (PR) have a second class citizenship and that most be changed and their colonial status changed to one of respect and diginity. The US has played a major role in manipulating the government of PR and as well as the people. I just want the colonization to end!! its been 521 years of colonization, one of the world’s oldest standing colony. Fight for the decolonization of Puerto Rico and demand a respectable status to replace the colonial one.

        • Rose Marie Arroyo Mendez

          Statehood is not most popular among the puerto rican population, but most popular among foreigners (many of them undocumented with fraudulent papers) living in Pto. Rico. Puerto Rico is over crowed with foreigners that are illegally allowed by the United States gov. to vote in Pto. Rico because they have USA citizenship (a violation to international laws applied to colonies), so therefore, those referendums do not count. Democratically??? How is it that a colony is a democracy?? How is it that the United States is a democracy when they invade, bombs, murders, commits genocides.. to steal.. democracy??? Now you know how the USA became the riches country in the world.. stealing!!! Viva Puerto Rico Libre.. Viva Oscar Lopez Rivera!!!

  • Pingback: Venezuelan President Would Free Opposition Leader if US Frees Oscar López Rivera · Global Voices()

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  • Pingback: Venezuelan President Would Free Opposition Leader if US Frees Oscar López Rivera | Freedom, Justice, Equality News()

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