Originally published at the author’s Medium page.
Honorable Sr. López Rivera,
First off, let me apologize for writing this in English instead of Spanish. While I am capable of writing en Español, this letter and ultimately the point of this exercise, for me, will be better done in English.
I will provide a little bit of context or my standing so that everything I say resonates.
I am a Chicago-born Puerto Rican. You, sir, have been an inspiration to people such as myself. If it wasn’t for your family and others in the Humboldt Park community, I doubt that a person such as myself would exist. You helped the community beyond measure. You have helped create a generation of educated, bilingual, political, and sometimes radical-thinking Puerto Ricans.
Your struggle, strength and resilience can only be described as inspirational. For that, I am almost ashamed to write this.
Please show some restraint.
After over 120 years of U.S. colonial rule, I welcome the aid from the United States government. It is the very least that they can do. When I say very least, I mean they are doing the very least they can. Aid workers and federal employees are trying to help. I welcome their assistance.
The important part, and maybe the most difficult, is that we need to let them. This is a hard pill to swallow, but we need to allow the help to come. I know we (Puerto Ricans) are proud. Asking for help has not been easy. We need to let help come. We need to prosecute those that have committed illegal actions against our suffering citizens. We need to continue pressuring our politicians and hold them accountable for their ineptitude.
I am standing right with you calling for a new time.
An independent Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico has been under colonial overlords for too long. We need to fight for our identity as other Caribbean nations have. Puerto Ricans have never had an opportunity to self-govern. Puerto Rico deserves that opportunity. We should not want or become the 51st state. Right now, we are witnessing firsthand how Congress and the U.S. government will treat Puerto Rico as a state.
I think the United States owes us this help.
Let us not call for the removal of people who are helping. Yes, we can rebuild the island without help from our colonial overlords. Yes, Puerto Rico’s citizens are strong. We have been through a lot.
I will say this again:
Honorable Oscar López Rivera, please show some restraint when speaking.
You, sir, are an important role model. Your voice, and what it says, carries a ton of influence. Please use that wisely as you make speeches in the future.
It has taken me considerable time to write this. I pondered what this meant for me. What an open letter to you —a rebutting statement to your recent speech (which I watched multiple times)— means. How this would impact my support of your efforts.
What can I say to this?
I will continue to support you in calling for a Puerto Rican nation. Do I agree with every one of your methods? No, but neither did every African American believe in Martin Luther King’s methods. I don’t need to be in one hundred percent agreement in order to follow your lead.
This just happens to be one of these times.
You have taught me that patience and dissidence can be a powerful thing. The strength you have exhibited, being wrongfully imprisoned, is incredible. I can only hope this letter reaches you, and in this trying time, you continue to believe in a similar discourse.
Giovanni Arroyo is not an author. He is a Chicago-born Puerto Rican father of two. His main roles, (besides fatherhood) are photographer, videographer and public speaker. He makes no claims at being a good writer.