Puerto Ricans Demonstrate in Fake Prison Cells for Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera

13.rene130529ntThe Associated Press wrote yesterday about the hundreds of activists that participated yesterday in the “32 x Oscar” project for the release of 70-year-old Puerto Rican pro-independence fighter Oscar López Rivera. The article points out that pop star Ricky Martin was one of the many public figures that called for his release in fake prison cell during Wednesday’s 24-hour demonstration. Primera Hora also reported the participation of Calle 13’s René Pérez Joglar, who sat in the cell with his wife, Soledad Fandiño; his mother, actress Flor Joglar; and his father, attorney Reinaldo Pérez. Here are excerpts from The Washington Post:

Dozens of Puerto Ricans entered fake prison cells set up in several cities across the U.S. territory to raise awareness about Lopez’s case and mark the 32 years he has spent in prison. [. . .]  Lopez was offered clemency by President Bill Clinton in 1999, but didn’t sign the deal in part because it did not include two comrades who have since been released. In 2011, the U.S. Parole Commission denied a request for early release, but both Lopez and attorney Jan Susler have filed petitions seeking executive clemency. “It’s the only remedy that we have,” Susler told The Associated Press. “The man is 70 years old. He’s a model prisoner. There is no reason to keep him in prison.” Lopez is currently being held at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, awaiting a release date of June 2023.

Eduardo Bhatia, president of the island’s Senate, said he sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking that Lopez’s sentence be commuted. “He is a 70-year-old decorated war veteran who was not convicted of killing or hurting anyone,” Bhatia wrote. “Your presidency has been characterized by your strong defense of human rights. I appeal to your compassion and humbly ask for your clemency.”

[. . .] His daughter, Clarisa Lopez, told the AP that he called her exactly at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to mark the day and time of his imprisonment. She was among those who spent several minutes inside a fake prison cell during Wednesday’s 24-hour demonstration. “I’m happy that an educated society has united (over this),” she said. “My father is a political prisoner to hundreds of people. For me, Oscar Lopez is simply my father.”

Not everyone in Puerto Rico views him as a political prisoner. Miriam Ramirez, former vice president of the island’s pro-statehood New Progressive Party, said she doesn’t believe that label applies to Lopez, but she still joined the call for his release. “It should be done for humanitarian reasons,” she said, adding that she feels Lopez has served enough time in jail.

[Many thanks to Maritza Stanchich for bringing this item to our attention.]

For full article, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/puerto-ricans-demonstrate-in-fake-prison-cells-to-urge-release-of-70-year-old-nationalist/2013/05/29/41902024-c8a6-11e2-9cd9-3b9a22a4000a_story.html

Also see articles in Spanish, http://www.primerahora.com/entretenimiento/farandula/nota/reneperezseencierraporoscarlopez-video-925079/ and http://www.primerahora.com/noticias/puerto-rico/nota/rickymartinseuneareclamoporexcarcelaciondeoscarlopez-924977/

Photo from http://www.primerahora.com/entretenimiento/farandula/nota/reneperezseencierraporoscarlopez-video-925079/

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