Obama Frees Cuba-Backed Puerto Rican Terrorist 3

A painting of Oscar Lopez Rivera in Humboldt Park in Chicago in 2011. (Credit: Sally Ryan for The New York Times)

A painting of Oscar Lopez Rivera in Humboldt Park in Chicago in 2011.
(Credit: Sally Ryan for The New York Times)

Obama Commutes Sentence of F.A.L.N. Member Oscar Lopez Rivera

By CHRISTOPHER MELEJAN, New York Times

President Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentence of a man convicted for his role in a Puerto Rican nationalist group linked to more than 100 bombings in New York and other cities in the 1970s and 1980s.

The man, Oscar Lopez Rivera, was serving a 70-year sentence after being convicted of numerous charges, including seditious conspiracy, a charge used for those plotting to overthrow the United States government.

He was linked to the radical group known as the F.A.L.N., the Spanish acronym for the Armed Forces of National Liberation, and was one of more than a dozen group members convicted in the 1980s.

Under Mr. Obama’s commutation order, Mr. Lopez Rivera’s prison sentence will expire May 17. It was one of 209 grants of commutation by the president announced Tuesday.

The F.A.L.N., which waged a violent campaign for the independence of Puerto Rico, was considered by the authorities to be among the most elusive and resilient terrorist groups to operate in the United States. Among its notable attacks was a bombing at Fraunces Tavern in New York in 1975 that killed four people.

The group was known for its tight-knit membership, fanatical zeal and hit-and-run tactics, as exemplified by the bombings of four government buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn on New Year’s Eve in 1982 that seriously wounded three police officers.

Mr. Lopez Rivera was not specifically charged in the Fraunces Tavern bombing but more broadly with, among other things, the interstate transportation of firearms with the intent to commit violent crimes, and transportation of explosives with intent to kill and injure people and to destroy government buildings and property.

President Bill Clinton offered Mr. Lopez Rivera and other members of the F.A.L.N. clemency in 1999, a decision that stirred an emotional debate. Mr. Clinton said their sentences were out of proportion with their offenses.

While 12 prisoners accepted the offer and were freed, Mr. Lopez Rivera rejected the chance to reduce his sentence because it did not include all of the group’s members, his lawyer, Jan Susler, said at the time. If he had accepted the agreement, she said, he would have been eligible for release in 2009.

Article continues here:  FALN  

Cuban 5 Proclaim Solidarity with Incarcerated US Terrorist 1

From Cuba’s Radio Cadena Agramonte:

Cuban Five Send Letter to Puerto Rican Jailed for 31 Years in U.S.

Havana, Cuba, June 1.- The five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters held in the U.S. since 1998, sent a message of solidarity on behalf of the Cuban people to Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera, who has been incarcerated in a US jail for 31 years now.

“With the same unyielding and moral spirit that we share in common, we send you our strongest hug of solidarity as we reiterate our admiration and affection,” the message reads.

Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez, known as the Cuban Five, said in their letter that today, marking the 31st prison year of Rivera’s imprisonment, is the best occasion to recall how big the brutality of the US irrational penal system is.

“Oscar needs all the solidarity we can give him, and he is an example to follow by current and future generations of Puerto Ricans,” the message reads as cited by Cubadebate website.

“Men like Oscar are indispensable if we are to build a society for human beings, which has encouraged the noblest actions ever, since history began to be written,” the letter reads.

The five Cubans were framed and arrested by FBI agents in 1998 and later submitted to a biased Miami trial that gave them extremely long and unfair sentences after they monitored Florida-based ultra-right organizations that have planned and undertaken terrorist actions against the Cuban people over the past fifty years.

On Thursday, Cubans, Puerto Ricans and activists from around the world gathered in Havana to urge US President Barack Obama to release Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera and the Cuban Five.

In a ceremony organized by the Cuban Friendship Institute and the Puerto Rican mission here, participants demanded the release of all Puerto Rican independence fighters who are imprisoned in US jails.

The coordinator of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, Graciela Ramirez, said that every time “we demand the release of the five Cubans, we are asking for the freedom of our Puerto Rican brothers, who were imprisoned for fighting colonialism.” (ACN)

Cuba Confidential notes:  Oscar Lopez Rivera was one of the founding leaders of the Puerto Rican terrorist group, the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN).  Havana’s considerable support and encouragement enabled FALN to conduct far-reaching, meticulously planned, capably directed, and well-funded efforts in several US cities.  Havana ensured FALN was well armed and trained.  So extensive was Cuba’s role that without Havana’s covert support, FALN would have failed to achieve many of its operational accomplishments.  In testimony before a US Senate subcommittee, Dr. Daniel James claimed that Cuban Intelligence, working through another FALN leader — Filiberto Ojeda Rios — created the terrorist group in 1974.