SAN JUAN – Imprisoned Puerto Rican independence militant Oscar Lopez Rivera, who earlier this week was pardoned by US President Barack Obama, meets the conditions demanded by the United States to be allowed to leave prison ahead of schedule, his daughter, Clarisa Lopez Ramos, said on Wednesday.
The conditions Lopez Rivera, 74, must meet include having a residential address and regular job, his daughter said at a press conference.
Lopez Ramos said that after spending 35 years behind bars, her father will live with her at her home in San Juan and will work as a community manager for the municipal government headed by Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto, one of those who has pushed for his release.
She also said that the activist represents “the point of unity” that Puerto Rico needs at present, noting that although he was sentenced in 1981 to 55 years in federal prison for seditious conspiracy and other serious crimes, he never killed anyone and “his hands are not stained with blood.”
Ten Nobel Peace Prize winners; the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua; US politicians such as former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and Puerto Rican entertainers like Ricky Martin and Rene Perez “Residente” have all pushed for Lopez Rivera’s release for years.
“I’ve spent 35-and-a-half years holding onto hope. I never lost hope and knew that Obama would provide justice for the people of Puerto Rico and that he would give us the news before he left (office),” Lopez Ramos continued.
The news about her father’s release, however, has sparked controversy and diverse opinions in the US commonwealth, mostly from opponents of Puerto Rican independence, who say that the imprisoned militant is a “terrorist” because he allegedly planted bombs and killed at least four people, a deed that the US government has not confirmed.
Before turning to armed struggle to try and achieve independence for the island, Lopez Ramos said that her father spent his youth in the United States, served in the US military during the Vietnam War and received the Bronze Star.
Lopez Rivera received his 55-year sentence after being convicted – in addition to seditious conspiracy – of use of force to commit robbery, interstate transportation of firearms and conspiracy to transport explosives with intent to destroy government property in Puerto Rico. In 1988, he was handed another 15 years in prison for trying to escape.
He is currently being held in the penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.