Several prominent Puerto Ricans locked themselves in a jail cell Wednesday to protest the 32-year imprisonment of independence fighter Oscar López Rivera, El Nuevo Día reports.
Among those who have spent 15 minutes locked up symbolically is Carlos Delgado, an ex-baseball player who wrote “I can only imagine how much mental strength and courage you have” on the jail cell’s wall. Former Puerto Rican Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vilá also spent 15 minutes in the cell and wrote: “Thank you for not giving up.”
The protesters hope to bring President Barack Obama's attention to the issue.
López Rivera, 70, was charged with “seditious conspiracy” in 1981 and sentenced to 55 years in jail. Former President Bill Clinton offered 12 Puerto Rican political prisoners clemency in 1999, including López Rivera, but he declined the offer, according to ProLibertad Web.
López Rivera headed the Chicago wing of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN, in Spanish), a Puerto Rican separatist group known in the 1970s and 1980s for various bombings across the United States.
López Rivera is now the Puerto Rican political prisoner who has been imprisoned for the longest time in the history of the nation's independence movement. He is currently serving the remainder of his sentence in a U.S. federal prison in Indiana.
Puerto Rican governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla joined the campaign to pardon López Rivera giving a written statement saying:
“The release of Puerto Rican, Oscar López Rivera, after 32 years in prison, is an issue that is directly related to the principles of social justice, humanity and compassion. Because of this I have asked the President of the United States of America, honorable Barack Obama, to execute his constitutional power and grant [López Rivera] a presidential pardon so he can be freed and reintegrated into our society. Justice demands his release.”
The campaign, which started at midnight on Wednesday, prompted strong reactions on Twitter with many voicing contrasting opinions over whether López Rivera should receive a pardon.