Oscar López Rivera will go free after 35 years in prison, thanks to President Barack Obama’s order granting clemency to the 74-year old imprisoned on charges related to violent activities in support of Puerto Rico independence.
Community activists in Florida, New York and Puerto Rico had stepped up pressure on Obama – wrote, called, held marches – to draw attention to López Rivera.
The president issued the order Tuesday as part of commuting the sentences or pardoning a total of 273 individuals – 209 commutations and 64 pardons, according to the White House.
Clemency Not Pardon
López Rivera, however, was not pardoned for his bomb-making activities in connection with the FALN (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional) that is believed to total over 100 bombings, six deaths and many others injured.
A clemency is not a pardon, which means López Rivera’s record is not wiped clean and his rights are not restored.
“These … individuals learned that our nation is a forgiving nation, where hard work and a commitment to rehabilitation can lead to a second chance, and where wrongs from the past will not deprive an individual of the opportunity to move forward,” according to the White House statement.
The Puerto Rican community reacted joyously to the news that López Rivera would be out of federal prison in May.
Read Orlando Latino‘s story on López Rivera here.
Below are reactions from local residents and members of Congress.
Sen. Bernie Sanders:
“I appreciate @POTUS listening to Puerto Ricans and people worldwide who believe Oscar Lopez Rivera deserves a chance to enjoy his freedom.”
Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.):
“Estoy lleno de alegría y emoción. Oscar es un gran amigo, mentor, y miembro de mi familia…”
Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY):
“Pardon of #OscarLopez is profoundly important for all Puerto Ricans. At long last, time for Oscar to come home. My profound thanks to @POTUS for pardoning #OscarLopez – an important and powerful move during last days in office.”
Congressman José Serrano (D-NY):
Congressman Darren Soto (D-Orlando):
Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY):
“I commend @POTUS on today’s decision to pardon #OscarLopezRivera, granting him freedom and a second chance. #OscarLopezRivera has long served his time & now will return home to be with his family and loved ones.”
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló:
“Gracias @BarackObama x escuchar reclamo de los puertorriqueños e indultar a Oscar López.Luego de mucho tiempo,regresa a casa y a su familia.”
Playwright Lin Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”):
“Sobbing with gratitude here in London. OSCAR LOPEZ RIVERA IS COMING HOME. THANK YOU, @POTUS.”
New York City Council President Melissa Mark Viverito:
Marcos Vilar, Orlando community organizer-activist:
“Obama just commuted Oscar Lopez Rivera’s sentence!!! Coño!!!! Al fin!!!!!
Christina Marie Hernández, Orlando community organizer-activist:
“So proud of the thousands who never gave up.”
Fernando Negrón, Orlando radio host:
“En buena hora Mr Presidente.”
Josephine Balzac, Orlando attorney-activist:
“I’m so proud of everyone who advocated for Oscar’s release, this gives the people of Puerto Rico 🇵🇷hope and sometimes HOPE for CHANGE is all you need!”
Jimmy Torres-Vélez, SEIU organizer:
“Viva el Pueblo.”
Sami Haiman-Marrero, Orlando community volunteer:
“My heart bursts with happiness again! Obama has pardoned Oscar Lopez!”
˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor