Today marks the 33rd anniversary of the incarceration of Oscar López Rivera, a Puerto Rican considered by many to be one of the longest-held political prisoners in the Western Hemisphere. What follows is the original message in English López Rivera shared with Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Día:
To love the homeland costs nothing, what would be costly is if we lose it. For any Puerto Rican who has doubts about how costly it would be if we lose our homeland i suggest the person should visit the Navajos’ or the Lakotas’ reservations. Because there the person can see what happens to people who lose their homeland. We must face the truth and deal with it. As Puerto Ricans we have to accept the fact Puerto Rico is a colony and that colonialism is unacceptable to most Puerto Ricans and most nations in the world. If we accept this truth then we must be ready and prepared to kickstart a decolonization project.
This project must call for the unity of all the factions that make up the independence movement and of the progressive elements that see the need to create our own nation. A decolonization project goes beyond a CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION. We have to make sure the us government and the international community (especially the Latin American countries) assume their responsibilities and commit themselves to help with the implementation of the project. We have to define the role the Puerto Rican diaspora is going to play.
We know any problem created by man has a solution. Colonialism is a man-created problem. We also know we have the human resources in Puerto Rico and in the Puerto Rican diaspora to resolve this problem. We know that in almost a century of being a u.s. colony the development of our nation has been thwarted and derailed. We know we have a debt that will take many future generations to repay it. We can’t allow for future generations to inherit nothing but debt and social, political and economic problems. Let’s face the problem of our colonial status. Let’s work to find a solution for it. Let’s decolonize our minds and spirits and become real citizens of Puerto Rico.
For people who have said that i don’t want to come out of prison i would like to suggest they pay attention to what i have said during all the years i have been in the gulags and some of the history of our political prisoners. The fact that i’m the Puerto Rican political prisoner who has spent more time in prison doesn’t erase the fact that other Puerto Ricans political prisoners have spent almost as many years as i have. For example, Carlos Alberto Torres spent over 30 years in prison and Don Oscar Collazo Lopez spent 29 years. Rafael Cancel Miranda spent 27 years, and Lolita Lebron and Irving Flores Rodriguez spent 25 and Andres Figueroa Cordero spent 24. Many of the compañeros(as) who came out of prison when Clinton allowed them to be released in 1999 spent over 19 years and the others over 16 years. That’s a lot of years spent by Puerto Rican political prisoners. If we were to ask any of the above-mentioned political prisoners if they wanted to come out of prison their answer would be on the affirmative. None of us wanted to be in prison in the first place and none of us have entertained the absurd idea of staying in prison. Before coming to prison i had a life full of great experiences. i enjoyed and celebrated that life. And while in prison, in spite of it been the most dehumanizing, toxic and hostile environment any human being can experience, i still feel i have had a life and that i can celebrate all my life for all the great things it has given me. i don’t have hatred or fear in my heart and i do want to leave prison with my honor, my dignity and my spirit intact, safe and sound.
i believe the truth will survive and prevail just like our just and noble cause has been able to do for centuries. i’m a Puerto Rican and i don’t want to be anything else. But i consider myself also a citizen of this universe we live in. i believe a better and more just world is possible and that’s one of the main reason i chose to struggle for the independence of my homeland. i say “woe to him/her who has no homeland”. Much love. EN RESISTENCIA Y LUCHA, olr.