Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro García Padilla asked the Obama administration Monday to free an independence fighter who has been jailed for the last 32 years, Puerto Rican daily El Nuevo Día reports.
The governor’s request comes on the heels of a major protest against the continued imprisonment of 70-year-old Oscar López Rivera, who was convicted of “seditious conspiracy” in 1981 and slapped with a 55-year jail sentence.
García Padilla, who traveled to New York to attend the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday and continued to Washington on Monday, raised the issue with Eric Holder during a meeting to discuss strategies to fight organized crime.
López Rivera led the Chicago arm of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN, in Spanish), a Puerto Rican independence group that bombed scores of locations on the U.S. mainland in the 1970s and 1980s.
A group of protesters locked themselves up symbolically last month in a model jail cell for 15 minutes at a time to protest López’s imprisonment. The demonstration attracted several prominent Puerto Ricans, including former baseball player Carlos Delgado, Calle 13 front man René Pérez and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.
“The release of the Puerto Rican Oscar López Rivera, after 32 years in prison, is an issue directly related to the basic principles of social justice, humanity and compassion,” García Padilla said in a press statement during last month’s demonstration, according to El Nuevo Día. Because of this I have asked the President of the United States of America, honorable Barack Obama, to execute his constitutional power and grant a presidential pardon so he can be freed and reintegrated into our society. Justice demands his release.”
The issue has wide support on the island, with Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party also calling for López Rivera’s release.