Tag Archives: Oscar Lopez Rivera

THE PUERTO RICAN MANDELA


The Puerto Rican Mandela by vagabond ©
The Puerto Rican Mandela by vagabond ©

A few weeks ago i was asked by Benjamin Ramos of Pro-Libertad, an organization dedicated to the freedom of Puerto Rican political prisoners, to design a poster for US held Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera. For those who don’t know Puerto Rico has been a colony of the US since 1898. For more on that whole situation check this out… Ever since it’s colonization there’s been a resistance movement to liberate Puerto Rico from the US to quote Malcolm X “…by any and all means necessary”. Some of those means have included armed struggle which is the right of colonized peoples in the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples under UN Resolution 1514.

Oscar Lopez Rivera is a freedom fighter not unlike the most famous political prisoner in the world, Nelson Mandela. Oscar is 72 and has been in prison since 1981, that’s almost half his life. He was charged, convicted and sentenced to 70 years for the crime of seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government. Contrary to the lies and misinformation fed by the US government and the corporate media Oscar is not charged with killing or maiming anyone. He is charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government.

After i designed the image above Benjamin asked if i knew anyone who could print some posters and postcards. i reached out to the worker owned union shop of offset printers, Radix Media. i worked closely with Lantz Arroyo and he was able to print a run of 11″x17″ posters and 4″x6″ postcards of the image…

Puerto Rican Mandela posters
Puerto Rican Mandela posters

Some of the posters will be used as media to help spread the word about Oscar and some will be for sale with the proceeds going towards Oscar’s commissary. If you’re looking to try and get one let me know and we’ll work something out. i imagine Oscar will use some of those funds we raise to get art supplies since he is a painter. Check out some of Oscar’s work here…

The international campaign to free Oscar Lopez Rivera is asking people to call both the White House and demand that Oscar Lopez Rivera be released unconditionally. Call President Obama at 202-456-1111 and leave a message!  Let him know that Oscar Lopez Rivera has been in prison for too long and deserves to go home!  

Sample Message for your phone call:
President Obama, I ask that you free Puerto Rican Political Prisoner, Oscar Lopez Rivera.  Since 1981, he has been in jail for fighting for Puerto Rican independence; he never committed a violent crime and has been a model prisoner.  I ask that you follow in the foot steps of Presidents Truman, Carter, and Clinton, who freed other Puerto Rican activists, and set Oscar free!

For more info on Oscar Lopez Rivera the video below is from Democracy Now and gives some more detailed information on both Oscar and the campaign to free him…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1A9

Advertisements

#GIFT4OSCAR


FREE OSCAR by vagabond ©
FREE OSCAR by vagabond ©

Today is 3 Kings Day… It’s also US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war Oscar Lopez Rivera’s birthday. He’s 72 years old. For 33 of those years he’s been in US prisons as the longest held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war. ‪#‎FREEOSCARLOPEZNOW‬

There is a Twitter campaign going on right now to pressure US President Barak Obama to free Oscar Lopez Rivera. This campaign is being dubbed #Gift4Oscar in which people create a salvo of art, music, writings, videos, and tweets to #FreeOscarLopezRiveraNow in an effort to educate people about Oscar Lopez Rivera and to help bring about his freedom. Over the years i have done various pieces of art for Oscar’s freedom… This is my ‪#‎Gift4Oscar‬

You’ll notice one of the pieces is the cover of a ‘zine that the RICANSTRUCTION Network did called SALVO which featured Oscar on the cover along with an essay from him on art and prison. You can download a PDF copy of the ‘zine at the Audio Visual Terrorism blog.

These pieces are free to use for the struggle towards his release… i only ask the proper credit be given…

by vagabond ©

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1xo

MACHETERO The 1st APOC Film


La (A) por Amor Y Anarquia - Not4Prophet, vagabond, Resister & Kelvin in Puerto Rico during the MACHETERO shoot
La (A) por Amor Y Anarquia – Not4Prophet, vagabond, Resister & Kelvin in Puerto Rico during the MACHETERO shoot

“Behold your executioners…” – Lucy Parsons

“The only authority is anti-authority.” -from The Anti-manifesto: A Mini Manual For The Modern Day Machetero 

When the idea to create MACHETERO came to me the first thing I wanted to do was tap into the righteous rage that simmers just below the surface of each of us who feel the indignation of an unjust system. I wanted to reclaim the fury that since birth we’ve always been told we have no right to have… I wanted to own that anger so that it could be shaped into action and that action would bring about change.

“Let Fury Have the hour
Anger can be power
Do you know you can use it?”
– The Clash

These authoritative power structures have ingrained this rage, this fury and this anger in an effort to give us the tools to destroy ourselves. It’s the fear instilled in us from the system, the intimidation from the powers that be, the retribution of authority that keeps us from completely owning the rage, the fury and the anger that when focused and used correctly has the power to set us free.

“The nature of your oppression
Is the aesthetic of our anger.”
– Crass

The character of Pedro Taino (played by Not4Prophet) was someone who owned his rage and used it as a tool to destroy the very things that were trying to destroy him and his people. The ownership of that rage is something that i saw in Puerto Rican freedom fighters like Dylcia Pagan, Filiberto Ojeda Rios, Oscar Lopez Rivera, and Lolita Lebron. i also saw it in the struggles of other people like Kuwasi Balagoon the Black Liberation Army member turned anarchist, Russel Schoatz, a Black Liberation Army soldier, Leonard Peltier the Native American warrior and radical David Gilbert of the Weather Underground. They are all or were US held political prisoners and prisoners of war. It was the real life experiences of these people and others like them that grounded a character like Pedro Taino. It’s Pedro’s acceptance of his rage that sets him on a path to freedom. Without the fear of retribution from those who claim authority over him, he dispels the illusion of power that these powers structures have created and that so many of us have accepted as being real.

“Step aside and i and i will rise.”- RICANSTRUCTION

Pedro Taino is a true revolutionary in that he is creating his own reality, shaping the world into his own vision without permission, approval or validation from the existing power structures, forcing those power structures to deal with him in the most uncreative and unimaginative way possible, by imprisoning him. Placing Pedro in prison and having him talk about freedom created a dialectic that made for interesting cinema. It created a conflict of ideas that would pull the audience in. The 1st question in the film asked to Pedro by Jean Dumont the journalist (played by Issach de Bankolé) embodies this whole conflict…

“Do you find it strange that in your struggle for freedom you find yourself in prison?”
Pedro’s answers…
“No. Just because they’re aren’t any bars on the windows or locks on the doors or guards at the gates doesn’t mean you aren’t in prison.”

Pedro believes in a freedom that will allow him to control his own life without the interference of the self-serving political or authoritative forces that exert power over people’s lives. In his search for his own personal autonomy Pedro realizes that his freedom is tied up with the freedom of his people. Pedro’s then expands his personal sphere of autonomy to encompass the autonomy of his country and the colonial condition it suffers under. This ideology is made clear in the last line of the introduction to the Anti-manifesto, a guidebook that Pedro writes on how to be Machetero.

“The only authority is anti-authority.”
– Pedro Taino

It’s this strong desire for freedom at any cost and his anti-authoritarian approach to achieve that freedom that makes Pedro an APOC (Anarchist or Anti-authoritarian or Autonomous Person Of Color). APOC is a means to deal with the issues that people of color face within a framework that stresses anarchist, anti-authoritarian, or autonomous solutions. Pedro has had to deal with an authority that is designed for the pleasure and benefit of itself. Within that search for freedom Pedro realizes that he’s not the only one and it’s this realization that politicizes his actions and it’s in his actions that he begins to own the rage and the frustration and the fury that will sets him free.

“Wanting to be free, is to begin being free.”
– Betances

However MACHETERO isn’t just an APOC film because the characters in it are APOC. MACHETERO is an APOC film because it was made by APOC’s. i identify as an APOC, Not4Prophet who played the role of Pedro Taino identifies as APOC. RICANSTRUCTION the band whose songs are featured prominently in the film are APOC. If a film is a reflection of those that made it then how could MACHETERO be anything other than APOC?

MACHETERO opens in New York City for a one week limited theatrical run.

WED. JUNE 12TH – TUES JUNE 19TH
CLEMENTE SOTO VELEZ
KABAYITO’S THEATER (2ND FLOOR)
107 SUFFOLK STREET
NY NY 10002
(BTWN RIVINGTON & DELANCEY)

TICKETS $10 http://machetero.bpt.me
SCREENING TIMES • 1PM • 3PM • 5PM • 7PM • 9PM
F Train to Delancey Street or J , M , or Z Trains to Essex Street.
Walk to Suffolk Street, make a left.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-158

Oscar Lopez Rivera And MACHETERO


Wanted Free And Alive by vagabond ©
Wanted Free And Alive by vagabond ©

“but it is all for others and nothing for yourself expect no rewards…
for the machetero there is only the prison or the cemetery
your reward is a good death…”
– Pedro Taino
from the Anti-Manifesto: A Mini Manual For The Modern Day Machetero

Although my film MACHETERO is a work of fiction i wanted the film to be based on real people and real situations. When i was looking for someone to base the character of Pedro Taino on, one of the people i looked to was Oscar Lopez Rivera. Oscar is a US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war, charged with sedition and sentenced to 70 years. Puerto Rico has been a colony since 1898 when it defeated the Spanish in the Spanish-American War and took the island of Puerto Rico as war reparations. Oscar was part of the clandestine armed resistance known as the FALN (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional – Armed Forces of National Liberation). The FALN believed that Puerto Ricans had the right to extricate themselves from the yoke of US colonialism by any means necessary, as made clear by UN resolution 1514 on the rights of colonized nations.

When Oscar was captured in 1980 he took a prisoner of war status during his trial and refused to recognize the US as having any legitimate power over him. He refused to take part in the trial outside of an opening statement explaining the colonial situation of Puerto Rico and his own status as a Puerto Rican political prisoner of war. It must be a strange thing to be charged with sedition by a country that’s imposed its power over you. A country that you don’t recognize as having any legitimate power over you. A country that not only imposes its power and will over you but also imposes its will and power over the nation you fight to free.

Today marks the thirty-second year that Oscar is in prison. He is the longest US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war. The irony of Oscar’s situation is not lost on anyone who even takes a precursory look at Oscar’s life or at the history of US colonialism in Puerto Rico. Oscar Lopez Rivera is Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico is Oscar Lopez Rivera. It’s got to be unimaginably difficult to be a living symbol that most don’t want to pay attention to. It’s got to be unimaginably difficult to have your life reduced to that of a living martyr by both the US government that labels you a “terrorist” and to many Puerto Ricans who are reluctant to call him a hero and support him or his cause, much less follow his example.

The very nature of US colonialism is that those who step up and defy their power must be made an example to anyone else thinking of doing the same so the threat of prison or an early grave is by its very nature an apparatus that ensures the colonial condition in Puerto Rico. It’s not an easy example to follow, to sacrifice ones life for others is never easy. Those are the realities that someone like Oscar faces and unfortunately those are the realities that all Puerto Ricans face when they decide to follow in Oscar’s footsteps.

The character of Pedro Taino in my film MACHETERO had to be someone who was driven to go to the extreme but not in an effort to be an extremist but in an effort to be a reflection of the extremism that he and his people were suffering under. In my own humble opinion i think that this is what Oscar was trying to do. It’s also the crux of what i’m trying to say in my film MACHETERO. The first thing that happens when the oppressor is attacked from below is cry “terrorism” and “terrorist” and a propaganda campaign is unleashed to wash the sins of the oppressor and paint the oppressed as an “extremist”. In the case of Oscar the inverse is true. Oscar is a freedom fighter, the terrorism isn’t coming from Oscar the terrorism comes from US colonialism in Puerto Rico. Oscar’s struggle is one in which he’s chosen to take on the very heavy burden of embodying not just Puerto Rican resistance to US colonialism but also the reality of US colonialism in Puerto Rico…

More than a few people who have seen MACHETERO have said that some of the characteristics of Pedro Taino reminds them of Oscar Lopez Rivera. i just wanted to say that this is by design. i also wanted to say that this is also the burden of shame that we carry in having someone who is as talented and capable as Oscar spend 32 years of his life and counting… in a prison embodying the colonial situation of Puerto Rico to a world that for the most part continues to ignore him. It’s been 32 years… maybe it’s about time the world paid attention to Oscar and in doing so take notice of US colonialism in Puerto Rico.

To see what you can do to help free Oscar Lopez Rivera check these links below…
Sign the Petition President Obama for the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera
Boricua Human Rights Network
Pro-Libertad Freedom Campaign

MACHETERO opens in New York City for a one week limited theatrical run.

WED. JUNE 12TH – TUES JUNE 19TH
CLEMENTE SOTO VELEZ
KABAYITO’S THEATER (2ND FLOOR)
107 SUFFOLK STREET
NY NY 10002
(BTWN RIVINGTON & DELANCEY)

TICKETS $10 http://machetero.bpt.me
SCREENING TIMES • 1PM • 3PM • 5PM • 7PM • 9PM
F Train to Delancey Street or J , M , or Z Trains to Essex Street.
Walk to Suffolk Street, make a left.

MACHETERO Poster by vagabond ©
MACHETERO Poster by vagabond ©

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-15j

From Celebration To Inspiration


Avelino Libertad by vagabond ©
Avelino Libertad by vagabond ©

“The bars could not hold me 
Force could not control me 
They tried to keep me down
But Jah put I around
– Bob Marley from the song Duppy Conqueror

The Puerto Rican independence movement has had an incredible track record of getting its political prisoner out. In 1965 the Puerto Rican independence movement was able to secure the release of Nationalist movement leader Don Pedro Albizu Campos, in 1979 President Carter released four Nationalists who had served 25 years in prison, in 1998 President Clinton released 11 more political prisoners who after served 20 years in prison. The latest US held Puerto Rican political prisoner to be released is Avelino González Claudio. On December 6th he’ll be allowed to serve out the rest of his sentence as probation in Puerto Rico.

The FBI first caught up with Avelino in 2008 arresting and charging him with taking part in the $7 million Wells Fargo Armored Truck Robbery of 1983 that was carried out by the Macheteros, a clandestine armed organization that used any and all means to free Puerto Rico from US colonial rule. Avelino had been living underground and working with the Department of Education in Puerto Rico when the FBI finally found him. In 2010 Avelino was found guilty and sentenced to seven years, he was 68 years old and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

The fact that Avelino is coming back home to Puerto Rico is a cause for celebration but it’s tempered by the fact that his brother Norberto González Claudio was just recently sentenced to five years in prison. Norberto was also a member of the Macheteros and a fugitive of the FBI until earlier this year when the FBI captured him and charged him with involvement in the same Wells Fargo Armored Car Robbery. So while there’s reason to be happy that a 70-year-old man with Parkinson’s disease, who’s been in prison since 2008 for a crime that was committed in 1983 in pursuit of gaining freedom for his country is out of prison… it’s ironic that as his prison sentence ends, his brother Norberto’s is just beginning. While this is all happening Puerto Rico still continues to be a colony of the US and Oscar Lopez Rivera the other US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war has served more than three decades in prison for fighting to free Puerto Rico from US colonialism. So while this battle hard-fought battle has been won there is still much more work to do…

You can help with some of that work by printing and signing a letter to President Obama that asks him to grant Oscar Lopez Rivera clemency. The campaign has been started by the National Boricua Human Rights Network which is an organization that works towards the decontamination of Vieques, Puerto Rico, the freeing and supporting of Puerto Rican political prisoners and the independence of Puerto Rico. Over 100,000 signatures for Oscar Lopez Rivera’s freedom have already been collected and the deadline to sign the letter is December 15th. So it’s wonderful that Avelino is coming home but let’s use the celebration of bringing him home as inspiration to free his brother Norberto and Oscar Lopez Rivera and to one day see a free Puerto Rico…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-SK

OLR 31


OLR 31 by vagabond ©
OLR 31 by vagabond ©

Oscar Lopez Rivera is a Puerto Rican revolutionary fighting to free Puerto Rico from US colonial rule. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the US since 1898. On May 29th of 1981 Oscar was arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government. As of today he will have served 31 years in prison. Below is a message sent by Oscar on his 31st anniversary. Below that are ways in which you can find more information on Oscar and the campaign to set him free.

OLR • May 29, 2012

Greetings with Much Respect and Love

i want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Puerto Rican people in PR and in the diaspora for the support you have given me during the past 31 years. i also want to express the same gratitude to the freedom and justice loving people in the u.s. and in different parts of the world for the solidarity they’ve shared with me. The support i’ve received has been a fountain of strength that has helped me face and deal with the difficult challenges i’ve experienced in prison during the past 31 years, and to remain morally and spiritually strong to continue struggling and resisting.

The 31 years seem to have passed fleetingly. Many radical changes have occurred all over the world during this period of time. In Latin America progressive presidents rule in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Brazil and Argentina. In the last two countries the presidents are progressive women. And in Puerto Rico the us navy is no longer present in Vieques. Unfortunately, the most important change Puerto Ricans need has not taken place. Because colonialism seems to be more entrenched now than ever.

It was Jose Marti who said that for a people to be free they needed to be cultured. i believe Puerto Ricans are a cultured people. Yet we still are a colonized people. We are also a morally, mentally, spiritually strong people. But we haven’t been able to make Puerto Rico a free and sovereign nation.

It was Albert Einstein who said that by repeating the same experiment the results were always going to be the same. Doing that is nothing else than an exercise in futility. And Puerto Rican independentists have been repeating the same experiment for decades and obtaining the same results without being able to achieve their goal of an independent and sovereign nation. The celebration of plebiscites has been such an experiment. So why do we continue engaging in Sisyphean tasks? What should we do? Let’s pay heed to Einstein’s wise warning.

My proposal is a simple one. Let’s work on the problems we can resolve with the means and resources we have at our disposal. For example, let’s take one problem related to the health issue we are facing – obesity. To resolve this problem a simple change in lifestyle will do. Eat a healthy diet, exercise and create a support network. We can also start programs of urban gardening. There’s space for such a program in the 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico. And in those spaces we can grow healthy products that can help with a nutritional diet. We can look for alternative sources of energy and of transportation. Let’s start thinking of changes we can make in our lifestyles and we can resolve some of the difficult problems we face. Problems shouldn’t intimidate or scare us. They should produce ideas in our heads and challenge us to find solutions. Finding solutions to problems give us confidence, and help us transcend our colonized mentality. And that transcendence gets us closer to our goal of achieving an independent and sovereign nation and a better and more just world. We are intelligent enough to know what needs to be done. We can change lifestyles in Puerto Rico and in the Puerto Rican diaspora and by doing so we will grow stronger morally, physically, spiritually and mentally. We can make Puerto Rico a free and sovereign nation.

En resistencia y lucha,
OLR

WE CAN FREE OSCAR LÓPEZ RIVERA
JOIN THE MOVEMENT TO FREE OSCAR
Alejandro Luis Molina
alejandrom@boricuahumanrights.org
Skype: alejandromann

Coordinating Committee
National Boricua Human Rights Network
2739 W. Division Street
Chicago IL 60622
www.boricuahumanrights.org
Follow us on Twitter: olrcat

Comité Pro-Derechos Humanos
www.presospoliticospuertorriquenos.org

ProLibertad Freedom Campaign
http://www.prolibertadweb.com/

Shortlink: – http://wp.me/p1eniL-KK

Colonialism Is A Gun To The Head


Carlos Alberto Torres by vagabond©
Carlos Alberto Torres by vagabond ©

“I didn’t walk into prison and say ‘Hey, I want to be a political prisoner’ – you know, they put a gun to my head and said… ‘Let’s go’. – Carlos Alberto Torres 

Carlos Alberto Torres is also an artist & potter. You can check out his work at
http://cemiceramica.com/ 

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-Gd