Venezuelan President Would Free Opposition Leader if US Frees Oscar López Rivera

Oscar Lopez Rivera Collage

A collage with images of Oscar López Rivera's life. Taken from the Facebook page of the “Free Oscar López Now” campaign.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has publicly declared that he would consider the release of political opposition leader Leopoldo López if the United States released Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, as reported by several news agencies.

His statement was made while asked about the brief and informal conversation he had with US Vice President Joe Biden during their visit to Brasilia last week for the inauguration of Dilma Rouseff's new term as president of Brazil, Spanish-language newspaper El Mundo reported. Leopoldo López's wife, Lilian Tintori, rejected Maduro's statement on Twitter.

Maduro's remarks come on the heels of social media rumors that the release of political prisoner Oscar López Rivera may be around the corner. On December 24, Venezuelan news agency TeleSUR announced that negotiations were underway to release López Rivera, helped along by the Uruguayan government. There has been no follow-up on the story by any other news agency as of this writing, however. It should be noted that this is not the first time that president Maduro has advocated for Oscar López Rivera's release.

Meanwhile, activists working for López Rivera's release geared up to start the new year with a storm of social media activity on January 6, the day of López Rivera's 72nd birthday, with La Respuesta and the Boricua Human Rights Network calling on users to post messages urging the US government to free López Rivera on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and other social networking services. The goal was to share 100,000 messages related to López Rivera in one day.

López Rivera, 72, has been imprisoned for 33 years in the United States, where he is serving a 70-year sentence for charges of “seditious conspiracy” and “conspiracy to escape”. 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.

With the congressional midterm elections over, President Obama in his final term in office and the recent announcement that the governments of the United States and Cuba would work to reestablish diplomatic relations after more than 50 years of estrangement, Oscar López Rivera's release might very well happen soon.

For more Global Voices coverage on Oscar López Rivera, check out the following links:


  • Felix J Paz

    Oscar Lopez Rivera has had a clear idea of where his north is. It did’nt matter to him the cost of his endeavour. In the political context, he wants to change Puerto Rico political status from being a U.S. colony and/or territory to become a free country. That itself is what fuels his inner self. Nothing new in the history of mankind. Make use of his stature and look further beyond all imaginary horizons.

  • Hard Little Machine

    Oscar López Rivera is a Puerto Rican nationalist[5] and one of the leaders of the FALN. In 1981, López Rivera was convicted and sentenced to 55 years in federal prison for seditious conspiracy, use of force to commit robbery,[6] interstate transportation of firearms,[6] and conspiracy to transport explosives with intent to destroy government property.[4] In 1988 he was sentenced to an additional 15 years in prison for conspiring to escape from prison.[6]
    López Rivera was among the 14[7] convicted FALN members offered conditional clemency by U.S. President Bill Clinton
    in 1999, but rejected the offer. His sister, Zenaida López, said he
    refused the offer because on parole, he would be in “prison outside

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