I do not exaggerate when I say that López Rivera set his apartment as a bomb-making facility. I also do not exaggerate when I say that I’ve been hearing for decades López Rivera described as a political prisoner.
Which is pure propaganda:
López Rivera was NOT imprisoned for believing in independence for Puerto Rico, but for the violent means through which he and others sought to further that otherwise respectable cause. Having failed to persuade their fellow Puerto Ricans to support their particular brand of a Marxist-Leninist independence, López Rivera and others sought to advance independence through bombings and other violent acts, such as the ambush of a group of U.S. Navy personnel just outside the base at Sabana Seca, P.R., which resulted in the deaths of four sailors.
The public relations campaign for López Rivera is just getting started, though. Just wait for the photo-ops when he goes to Hamilton and the cast honors him on stage.
Jorge Bonilla translates an op-ed by Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) that was first published in El Nuevo Día, where Gutiérrez refers to López Rivera as a “great man” who “gave us a great example.” It opens with a meeting between Gutiérrez and Rafael Cancel Miranda, one of the 1954 U.S. Capitol Gallery shooters and a joke they shared:
An International Victory
Nearly 25 years ago, in the summer of ’92, in Philadelphia- interesting city that we chose for that meting-, I remember Rafael Cancel Miranda and I conversing at a table, as though it were yesterday. Jokingly, I told him to let me know when he was coming to Congress so that I could bring a water pistol. We spoke of many things, Oscar among them.
We have much for which to thank people like Don Cancel Miranda. There are many like him who, between jokes, have carried out the struggle for our Oscar López Rivera. That great man.
We will never be able to thank these people enough. Take Dr. Nieves Falcón, for example. We campaigned with him for Oscar’s freedom, both in and out of Puerto Rico.
The truth is that Oscar could have been with us years ago, but he is a great man. In 1999, President Bill Clinton offered him a prompt release but offered nothing to his comrade Carlos Torres. Oscar did not want to accept the deal.
Years later, now with President Obama, we would ask for his freedom every year. I still remember the president’s face as he said, “but that gentleman was already offered freedom”. One time I said no, that if we were combat soldiers this is the soldier we’d want to have, one who doesn’t leave his men behind, who doesn’t abandon the trenches.
In all this, I can only express my thanks to Puerto Rico, because (they) proved to be a family, a great family. To Dr. Fernando Cabanillas, for his incredible help. To (San Juan) Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, a lioness, for her active campaign, her communication, and for being an incredible comrade in this struggle. To that great leader, Florencio Merced, who was also a comrade-in-arms, very admirable. To all the brethren at the (pro-independence) newspaper Claridad, who were very vocal for this cause and I can now say that we did it. To El Nuevo Día, its journalists, its owners and its Editorial Board. Their commitment and effort is admirable. They took this very seriously, and that speaks volumes about their people, who without a doubt are good and committed. I recall when we met in the summer and I assured them that this would not seem easy. Thanks to all for not giving up.
Oscar’s freedom is an international victory. Leaders and heads of state from all over joined the call for justice for him (Oscar). Letters and calls went out from the Vatican and its department of international diplomacy so that this could happen. Even former President Jimmy Carter said that his work was not done and joined in. We have to see this from that perspective. This is a victory for justice throughout the world.
Ultimately, we have to emphasize that Oscar gave us a great example. And that example inspired all. The Dominican congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), citing Hostos, also joined the call within the first few days of (the 115th) Congress being in session. Upon swearing in, Darren Soto (D-FL) also pled for Oscar having been in Congress for two weeks. These are acts of courage.
Like them, we all follow –and are inspired by- Oscar’s example. And the example of this woman: Zoraida Arocho Díaz, from Moca (Puerto Rico), my wife. At every White House Christmas party, she would ask President Obama for her gift, which was Oscar’s freedom. And this Christmas, when she greeted the president and asked for her gift, the president smiled.
On December 15th, (NYC Council Speaker) Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mayor Carmen Yulín and I went to see Oscar, and when I asked him how he felt he said: “how long does it take you to run a mile?” I said, “I don’t know.” Laughing, he told me “I can run it faster than you can.” He’s never been a prisoner. Oscar has a free spirit.
Likewise, we should be very thankful to President Obama. Year after year, we pled to him for Oscar’s freedom. When someone is recalcitrant you argue and advocate, and if they give in at the end, you have to be thankful. He could’ve said no, but he listened to us, considered it and gave us that gift. I am very grateful.
In 120 days, we will go get him and preparations for his welcome are well under way. Puerto Rico, get ready because our Oscar is coming back. It is a time to celebrate, especially for his family. His daughter Clarisa and his granddaughter Karina, this is their time. Oscar is returning home.
For now, as Gutiérrez put it, “get ready because our Oscar is coming back.”
[López] Rivera, not that it seems to matter, was involved directly or otherwise in at least 146 bombings, leaving nine dead in Puerto Rico and on the mainland. Among the wounded were NYPD bomb squad officers, one of whom was blinded.
Cross-posted at WoW! Magazine.