In remarks he gave Wednesday morning on the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) called for President Barack Obama to free Puerto Rican activist Oscar López Rivera from a federal jail and invited members of the Puerto Rican community to an October 9 day of solidarity in front of the White House. López Rivera has been imprisoned since 1981 on charges of seditious conspiracy. In the past few years, political leaders from the island’s different parties as well the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have all asked President Obama to pardon López Rivera.
Here is a transcript of Gutiérrez’s speech, as provided by his press office:
Mr. Speaker, I will not be on vacation or traveling on junkets to far-off lands during the next 6 or 8 weeks that Congress is on recess.
Because I am involved in the campaign to Free Oscar López Rivera from incarceration.
Oscar López Rivera is regarded as the last political prisoner from Puerto Rico that is still being held in federal prison.
Oscar is a friend and a mentor and at 73 years old, he is not beaten or broken or sad, as you can see from his smile.
Even after spending 35 years in jail, nearly half of his life, he is a hero to many people in Puerto Rico and throughout the Puerto Rican diaspora.
It warms my heart that people from every walk of life now understand that the 35 years Oscar has served for crimes that were not violent is long enough.
That there is a groundswell of support to tell President Obama that after 35 years, it is time to let Oscar López Rivera come home to his family, his Island, and his community.
Ya basta. 35 years is enough.OctoberI ask everyone who is watching today or who sees my remarks on-line to commit yourselves to joining me and others in Lafayette Square on October 9 in Washington, DC.
It is up to us. It is up to you.
President Obama has done so much to address injustice, to address unfair prison sentences for non-violent offenses, to address the inherent injustice that all too often characterizes our system of justice – and I thank him and praise him for that.
But in this case, with this elder statesman of the Puerto Rican diaspora, for this non-violent, exemplary inmate, for this father and war hero…For Oscar López Rivera we respectfully say: Ya Basta. Free Oscar López Rivera.