FEATURING OSCAR LÓPEZ RIVERA – Oscar López Rivera has been called the Nelson Mandela of Puerto Rico. Indeed, like the South African legend, Rivera was imprisoned for his anti-colonial activism and spent decades in prison. But in January 2017, after serving 35 years of his 70-year sentence, President Barack Obama, as one of his last acts in office, commuted Rivera’s sentence. In May 2017 Oscar López Rivera was a free man.
He was a member of the underground militant organization FALN which targeted military bases and other symbols of American imperialism. Rivera has denied involvement in any actions that hurt people.
Over time he became a symbol of resistance to people the world over and and became one of the longest serving political prisoners in the world. Among those who spoke out for his release were Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Francis, Senator Bernie Sanders, playwright Lin Manuel Miranda and others.
On February 7, 2018, Rivera spoke at Pasadena City College as part of a nationwide speaking tour and I had the chance to interview him on stage after his speech. Today we’ll bring you an excerpt of that conversation.
Oscar López Rivera, former political prisoner.
Photo courtesy of Brian Biery.