Renee Around the Way
President Obama has commuted the sentence of Oscar Lopez Rivera. His sentence will end on May 17th of this year. Rivera was convicted for his role in a Puerto Rican nationalist group linked to bombings in New York and other cities between the 1970's and 1980's. A political prisoner many called him - was serving a 70 year sentence from his conviction of charges including seditious conspiracy, a charge used for those plotting to overthrow the United States government.
The radical group known as F.A.L.N., the Spanish acronym for the Armed Forces of National Liberation, waged a violent campaign for the independence of Puerto Rico. When he was captured by the FBI he proclaimed himself a prisoner of war and according to the first protocol of the Geneva Convention of 1949 would protect him from being arrested in conflict against colonial occupation.
The U.S. of course did not recognize the demand of Lopez and sentenced him to 55 years in prison. After an alleged attempt to escape his sentence increased to 70 years in prison, 12 of which have been spent in isolated confinement.
In 1999 former president Bill Clinton offered Lopez a pardon stating their sentences were out of proportion with their offenses but he rejected it because he would have had to serve 10 of his 15 years with good behavior. Twelve other prisoners accepted Clinton's pardon.
The news of his release is received with much support. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the broadway musical "Hamilton" tweeted, "Sobbing with gratitude here in London. Oscar Lopez Rivera is coming home. Thank you POTUS." Supporters of Lopez have tried to push for a release on parole. His lawyer, Jan Susler said, “Really the only controversy is that this man was still in prison after 35 years after not being convicted of hurting or killing anyone." In response to the news Mr. Lopez has said, "I want to enjoy Puerto Rico, my family. But I like to work. I have some skills — organizing, helping young people — that I want to share with people.” There are too many political prisoners serving time on sentences given at a time we all know things were bias. I'm watching!