President Obama Pardons Puerto Rican Activist Oscar López Rivera

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 175th, 2016

Contact: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 212-739-7513, 917-673-9095 or jgarcia@latinojustice.org

After 36 years in prison, Puerto Rican activist Oscar López Rivera was pardoned by President Obama just days before leaving office. Rivera, whose pardon has been advocated by LatinoJustice PRLDEF, hundreds of organizations, activists, world leaders and Pope Francis will be released from federal prison within the next four months.

A worldwide campaign to free López Rivera generated dozens of marches, millions of letters, signed petitions including more than 100,000 messages to the twitter accounts of the President, White House, and Justice Department. LatinoJustice lawyers have been at the forefront of advocating for his release.

López Rivera has been in federal prison since 1981, convicted for "seditious conspiracy" to overthrow the government of the United States in relation to his membership in the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional, or FALN.

Celebrities, politicians and activists, ranging from Bernie Sanders to “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, asked President Obama to grant clemency to a man who fought for the independence and freedom of Puerto Rico.

López Rivera is supposed to be released within 120 days.

Statement from LatinoJustice PRLDEF President and General Counsel Juan Cartagena:

“There are only a few times that the people of Puerto Rico – on the island and in the diaspora – have showed solid, unifying strength and faith in collective action. In my lifetime, Vieques was one such episode. I am now lucky enough to see another beautiful chapter – the unconditional release of Oscar López Rivera.

He was the last remaining Puerto Rican political prisoner and his grace and positive outlook is what I remember the most when I met him in the federal penitentiary last year. We are now able to look at President’s Obama legacy in a different light. For in freeing Oscar López Rivera in such a reconciliatory act, the President freed both the prisoner and the unjust system that kept him behind bars.

For LatinoJustice PRLDEF, an organization that has championed Oscar´s release for years, we express our deepest gratitude to the President, to Oscar´s incredible lawyer, Jan Susler, to all the people who supported his release, and lastly, to Oscar López Rivera for never giving up hope.

Lopez’s supporters often compare him to Nelson Mandela, who was also involved in an armed political movement and served a lengthy prison term. López Rivera had said he will no longer condone violence in the struggle for Puerto Rican independence. But he says if he walks out of prison one day, he'll walk out with his head high.

Statement from Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, LatinoJustice Associate Attorney:

“The release of Oscar López Rivera after 35 years of unjust imprisonment represents a tremendous achievement for the people of Puerto Rico and those across the world who supported the campaign to release this freedom fighter. Oscar will now be able to join his family and share his rich vision of justice with his community, his country and the world, and we are all better for it. There is an indescribable joy knowing that he will soon be home, and that his freedom was secured by the persistence of the Puerto Rican nation who refused to let this injustice continue.”

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