After 36 years, Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera is finally a free man. López Rivera was freed from custody this morning in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he had been under house arrest since his release from prison in February. Celebrations are planned in Puerto Rico today and in Chicago’s Humboldt Park community tomorrow, when López Rivera returns to the community he grew up in.
In an interview with El Nuevo Dia, López Rivera shared his plans for the future:
“I want the community to truly feel the love I feel for it. I want to send a message to all Boricuas that I’m here and I want to do everything I can to help Puerto Rico. I want my family to feel as happy as me. I want my comrades who believe in Puerto Rican independence and to all who supported me despite political and ideological differences feel that I keep being someone who does not believe in sectarianism, who believes anything is possible, and that if we all put in our part, we can make a better and more just Puerto Rico.”
“I come to Puerto Rico to do two things–to fight and to work–those are the only two things I know how to do. I come with much love to my patria and I come with a personal challenge, to go to each municipality of this tiny archipelago and do everything I can to unite ourselves. In unity there is empowerment. And if we want to decolonize our patria, we have to unite.”
Chicago’s Welcome Home event is organized by the National Boricua Human Rights Campaign, Chicago Chapter:
Oscar Lopez Rivera Welcome Home Chicago Event
4:00pm – Welcoming at La Casita de Don Pedro, 2625 W. Division
4:30pm – March to the Unveiling of Oscar Lopez Rivera Rd
5:00pm – March to the Humboldt Park Boathouse for Main Event
5:30pm – Main Event for Oscar Lopez Rivera at Humboldt Park Boathouse, 1301 N. Humboldt Park
[From Event Description] Oscar returned to Chicago from Vietnam, on the heels of the 1966 Puerto Rican Division Street Riot. Upon his return, he felt a deep sense of responsibility to be part of the process of rebuilding our community, as well as building solidarity with those who were waging the struggles at that time.
Oscar returns to a community which is facing a major threat in the form of gentrification, but is nonetheless, a thriving center of resistance- much of it built upon his legacy. He will see the many initiatives on Paseo Boricua, that the Puerto Rican Cultural Center- which he co-founded 45 years ago. He will also marvel at Bickerdike’s La Estancia Apartments and Hispanic Housing’s Teresa Roldan Apartments. He will experience the educational programs at Roberto Clemente Community Academy- which he organized to build in the 1970s, as well as the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School, which he co-founded 45 years ago.
Oscar will also realize the vitality of programs which he organized for more than 4 decades ago, including the Latin American/Latino(a) studies program at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the LARES program at UIC as well as the El Rincon Family Services, the Spanish Coalition for Housing and ASPIRA of Illinois. May 18 will be a day of Oscar’s presence and persistence for the past 5 decades.