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
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.