President Obama is likely to end the long prison term of a member of a U.S. terrorist group that tried to pressure the Federal government into granting independence to Puerto Rico.
The expected release appears to be related to the President’s restoration of diplomatic relations with the Cuban government, the related release of Cuban spies by Obama and political prisoners by Cuban President Raul Castro, and the president of Uruguay’s acceptance of suspected terrorists from Iraq and Afghanistan held by the U.S. at the Guantanamo, Cuba naval base prison that Obama wants to close.
Oscar Lopez Rivera, a resident of Chicago, Illinois of Puerto Rican origin, was initially sentenced to 55 years in prison for the use force in a robbery, transportation of firearms and ammunition across State lines for use in a crime, and interstate transportation of stolen vehicles as well as conspiracy to overthrow Federal authority in Puerto Rico.
He was a member of the Armed Forces for National Liberation (FALN) but was not convicted of any crime in which people were killed or maimed.
He had 15 years added to his sentence in 1988 for escape attempts.
According to Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla, however, he is “in prison simply for thinking differently.”
Lopez has served 33 years of his total sentence of 70 years. Unless otherwise released, he is not eligible for release until 2021.
In 1999, President Clinton offered to commute the sentences of Lopez and 13 others who committed crimes in the name of Puerto Rican independence. Clinton found their sentences to be “out of proportion to the nationalists’ offenses” and the sentences given others for similar crimes.
His offer required renouncing the use of violence and being on parole after release.
In Lopez’s case, the offer also required spending another 10 years in prison for his escape attempts.
Lopez alone among the 14 declined the offer.
Afterwards, Lopez’s sister said that her brother had declined because parole would be like “prison outside prison.”
More recently, supporters of Lopez’s release have contended that he did not agree because Clinton did not commute the sentences of a husband and wife in prison for for more serious offenses committed in in their FALN activities.
The couple were paroled in 2009 and 2010. Had he accepted Clinton’s offer, Lopez would have been released in 2009.
The U.S. Parole Commission denied Lopez parole in 2011.
Why a Release
Newspaper El Nuevo Dia reported today that an Obama Administration official said the Administration supports pardoning Lopez, and it is likely that the President will, although not soon.
Also, an unofficial Uruguayan source said that President Jose Mujica has a commitment from Obama to release Lopez. Mujica helped mediate the restoration of diplomatic relations agreed on by Obama and Castro, asked for the release of Lopez along with the Cuban spies, and took the prisoners from Guantanamo, helping Obama in his controversial goal of closing the prison.
Last week, U.S. House of Representatives Member Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) told a reporter for GFR Media that he is “confident” Lopez will be released, but he suggested that it would be soon.
Gutierrez, whose family is from the territory and who has a home there, was a friend of Lopez’s in Chicago, and has been a leader of the campaign for Lopez and the other FALN prisoners to be pardoned.
Gutierrez left open the possibility that he raised the Lopez issue at a recent dinner with Obama related to the President’s order that many illegal aliens in the U.S. not be deported. Gutierrez has also been a leader in the effort to win citizenship for the aliens.
The congressional advocate of independence for Puerto Rico — who works closely with “commonwealth” party officials — said that any discussions with Federal officials on the matter will remain “completely confidential.” But he asserted that Puerto Ricans should take it on “faith” that Lopez will be allowed out of prison soon.
This week, a relative of Lopez’s in Uruguay said that she had “some information from Uruguayan authorities that” Lopez “will be here very soon.”
She said that there were talks between U.S. and Uruguayan officials on the issue.
Friend of Gutierrez
Born in Puerto Rico, Lopez grew up and lived in Chicago. He also was a leader of the FALN, which used violence to try to obtain Puerto Rico’s independence, although Puerto Ricans overwhelmingly reject the status.
In a plebiscite in November 2012, independence obtained only 5.5% of the vote. The plebiscite was won by statehood, which got 61.2%.
The FALN was linked to more than 100 bombings and five deaths in the 1970s — but Lopez was not tied to any of these.
He refused to defend himself when on trial, however, contending that he was a “prisoner of war.”
Before any of the 14 accepted Clinton’s offer of reduced sentences, Gutierrez and Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-New York) helped lead a campaign in Puerto Rico to pressure Clinton to drop his conditions for commuting the sentences.
The campaign had no success but it provided time that Republicans in New York used to generate a firestorm of opposition to Clinton’s offer. They charged that the offer was an effort to boost the U.S. Senate ambitions of First Lady Hillary Clinton. It was later found that she had not known of the offer beforehand and did not agree with commuting the sentences.
The opposition to the commutations grew to be so widespread that both houses of the U.S. Congress voted overwhelmingly against the offer, a symbolic move because of the president’s power to pardon.
Gutierrez and others have long hoped that the election of Chicagoan Obama would result in an unconditional clemency offer for Lopez.
He will be pardoned by Benito Mussobama, He declared by fiat,today,that he (Obama) will end the Cuban embargo against Castro!
This radical manchurian president loves dictators,radicals and all non western regimes!
Obama is out of control, he needs to be stopped. I used to oppose impeachment on the grounds that it would make him a martyr but now it’s becoming more and more clear that the GOP controlled Congress must begin hearings ASAP.
Everything he does is designed to prop up and/or embolden anti-American dictators and tyrants, or advance a far left agenda.
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I don’t think he’ll pardon just commute the sentence and release him. 33 years is long time. I’d want some assurances from the Puerto Rican Government that they will not parade him around like a hero. That would be insulting.
The current party in power is the “commonwealth” party, the “Populist Democrat Party” aka “Populares”.
The party propped up by all the American and unternational busineses using Puerto Rico to as a manufacturing base (on legal papers) to evade US federal taxes within US soil.
They are a parasitic party that caters to separatists but also claims the “permanent union with USA w/o statehood” card to win votes. Their true goal is to perpetuate the unincorporated territory.
They are currently deliberately bankrupting the island to disqualify it from statehood.
YES, THEY WILL PARADE HIM LIKE A HERO!
TERRITORY LOST 54%, AND STATEHOOD GOT 61% THE “COMMONWEALTH” party has no choice but to delay statehood at all costs,even if it means destroying Puerto Rico.
The “commonwealth party” seperatist Governor Padilla (you know…governor “I could care less what Fitch,MOODY’S and Standard &Poor say!”) Will have a grand parade in his honor to create anti Puerto Rican hatred among Americans.
Nevermind 95% of Puerto Ricans desire permanent Union with the US with 50/50 split between statehood and the territory.
The media will portray that 5% as if PR was going for nationalism!
THE POPULIST DEMOCRAT PARTY WILL DO ANYTHING TO PREVENT STATEHOOD. PORTRAYING PUERTO RICANS AS UNFAITHFULL AMERICANS IDOLIZING FALN TERRORISTS IS A PERFECT WEAPON TO STIR UP ANTI PUERTO RICAN SENTIMENT.
We are in serious times!
A Communist,,Third world, Muslim extremist loving President that opened the door to Al Qaeda becoming ISIS/L and the “Muslim Brotherhood’s Sharia Law terrors! Obama is even on You Tube PRAISING ISLAM!! “OBAMA MUSLIM”.
A COMUNIST NYC MAYOR WHO’S ANTI COP STANCE TODAY RESULTED IN A HISPANIC AND ASIAN AMERICAN COP BEING EXECUTED BY A BLACK THUG!
TWO US CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES WHO ARE ALSO DEMOCRATIC PARTY MEMBERS OF THE NEW US COMMUNIST PARTY. THEY MOVED OUT OF PUERTO RICO TO Become congressmen/women yet REFUSE TO EVEN ALLOW A FEDERAL STATUS REFERENDUM!IM TALKING ABOUT NYDIA VELAZQUEZ AND LUIS GUTTIERREZ! PR’S independence movement (all 4%) is rooted on communism,so its no surprise Luis and Nydia support independence.