Thirty-eight years in prison for liberty in the United States, by Owei Lakemfa

0


[ad_1]

While he was withdrawing his presidency, Barack Obama, on January 17, 2017, commuted Rivera’s sentence. Rivera, also known as “Nelson Mandela of Puerto Rico”, had spent 38 years, including 36 years after his conviction in prison.

Oscar López Rivera, 78, was a 14-year-old Puerto Rican boy when he was brought to Chicago in 1957. He grew up there and joined the United States Army. He fought in Vietnam against a people who were fighting for decolonization.

For him, there was a contradiction; he went to fight for the United States to refuse Vietnamese freedom, while his own country, Puerto Rico, a colony of the same United States, also needed independence and freedom.

The colonized generally have two options: accept colonialism or fight it. The colonizer rewards those who support his inhuman rule and harshly punishes those who resist or insist on freedom. The worst form of colonialism is one in which the colonizer denies having a colony and tries to disguise the colonized as a free citizen, while actually keeping him down.

South Africa was a colony, but the colonialists denied it. Thus, young patriots like Nelson Mandela resorted to armed struggle. In 1962, after the Rivonia trial, Mandela and his fellow liberation fighters were sentenced to life imprisonment. He spent 27 years on Robben Island, in Pollsmor and Victor Verster prisons, before being released. He became president of decolonized South Africa in 1994.

East Timor was a Portuguese colony. The colonialists left on August 1, 1975, but four months later Indonesia, its larger neighbor, invaded and re-colonized it. The Patriots responded by creating the Revolutionary Front for the Independence of East Timor and in 1979 José Xanana Gusmao became its leader. He was captured and jailed in 1992, but emerged a decade later as the founding president of an independent East Timor.

In both cases, the colonizer claimed that the colonized were part of his territory and his citizenship. This is also the case for Puerto Rico, a country of 3,285,874 inhabitants, which despite the enormous wealth and power of the United States, refused to be annexed, preferring decolonization.

It reminds me of the 1958 referendum in West Africa by France, which tried to encourage the colonized to become French citizens. Pan-Africanist Ahmed Sékou Touré told the French: “Guinea prefers poverty in freedom to wealth in slavery.

The United States suspected Rivera of being part of the FALN leadership, or could in fact be its leader, but there was a lack of concrete evidence. Also quite frustrating was the fact that the FALN was so sophisticated in its activities that Rivera could not be linked to any of its armed attacks.

Puerto Rico, which in Spanish means “Rich Port”, was called Borikén before Spain occupied and colonized it in 1493. It remained a Spanish colony for the next four centuries. Then, during the Spanish-American War of 1894, the United States captured Puerto Rico and began their own colonization, which has now lasted for 123 years! The United States had offered Spain $ 160 million to buy Puerto Rico and Cuba, which the latter rejected; it’s incredible that the US is asking Spain to sell territories that don’t belong to it.

In 1914, the Puerto Rican House of Delegates vote for independence was rejected by the US Congress on the grounds that it was “unconstitutional.” Until today, the United States, while refusing to decolonize Puerto Rico, has not given it statehood either, and it refuses to allow Puerto Ricans to vote in the US presidential elections, while ‘they would not allow their only representative to vote. in the US Congress.

When their demands for independence and freedom fell on deaf ears, Puerto Ricans founded a liberation movement in the 1970s, the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN). It started an armed struggle.

The United States suspected Rivera of being part of the FALN leadership, or could in fact be its leader, but there was a lack of concrete evidence. Also quite frustrating was the fact that the FALN was so sophisticated in its activities that Rivera could not be linked to any of its armed attacks.

But, he decided to put him on trial for a seditious plot to overthrow American power on the basis of circumstantial evidence. Rivera dismissed the lawsuit, insisting that he was a prisoner of war and that under international law he was a liberation fighter and could not be tried by the very state against which he is waging a anti-colonial war. On August 11, 1981, he was sentenced to 55 years in prison.

Six years later, he was tried for an alleged second escape attempt. The FBI said the plot he was tried “involved flying a helicopter full of machine guns and explosives into Leavenworth’s recreation yard (and) searching guard towers with automatic weapon cartridges. and to throw grenades in the path of those who were pursuing. For this, he was sentenced to an additional 15 years, a total of 70 years in prison.

In his book Between torture and resistanceRivera argues that: “The refusal of the US government over the past three decades to comply with a resolution of the United Nations Decolonization Committee recognizing Puerto Rico’s right to free self-determination and independence.

In May 2017, he walked freely through the streets of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico’s struggle against American colonialism continues, but liberation fighters like Rivera have chosen a more political path than armed struggle. For them, the struggle continues until victory over colonialism and imperialism.

The Committee’s injunction to the United States to initiate the process that would allow Puerto Rico to exercise this right was ignored. This refusal by the United States violates the right to free self-determination as expressed in the Charter of the United Nations as well as in treaties on economic and social rights and civil and political rights.

Explaining why Puerto Ricans don’t want to be part of the United States, he said, “I believe, as a Puerto Rican, the majority of Puerto Ricans want to be Puerto Ricans. Once we are annexed to the United States or by the United States, we will lose our national identity.

TEXEM

I can look at Hawaii as an example of people losing, native people losing their identity. I can look into Native American reservations and see people losing their national identity, their culture, their language, their land. And that’s what’s going to happen to Puerto Ricans here.

In 1999, President Bill Clinton made a conditional offer of pardon to FALN members on the condition that they “refrain from resorting or advocating the use of violence for any purpose”. This offer was extended to Rivera, but he rejected it for two reasons. He didn’t want any conditions imposed on him, and secondly, some of his fellow prisoners weren’t offered the deal.

Many around the world joined the campaign to free Rivera, especially when they knew the main charge of sedition was political. His supporters included the anti-apartheid icon, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Francis and US Senator Bernie Sanders.

While he was withdrawing his presidency, Barack Obama, on January 17, 2017, commuted Rivera’s sentence. Rivera, also known as “Nelson Mandela of Puerto Rico”, had spent 38 years, including 36 years after his conviction in prison.

In May 2017, he walked freely through the streets of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico’s struggle against American colonialism continues, but liberation fighters like Rivera have chosen a more political path than armed struggle. For them, the struggle continues until victory over colonialism and imperialism.

Owei Lakemfa, former secretary general of African workers, is a human rights activist, journalist and author.

Support PREMIUM TIMES integrity and credibility journalism

Good journalism is expensive. Yet only good journalism can guarantee the possibility of a good society, responsible democracy and transparent government.

For free and ongoing access to the best investigative journalism in the country, we ask that you consider modestly supporting this noble enterprise.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to maintain relevant journalism and ensure that it remains free and accessible to everyone.

Make a donation


TEXT OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT : To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401 …





PT Mag campaign ad

[ad_2]

Share.

Comments are closed.