Who are the Puerto Rican Political Prisoners?



From Left to Right: Oscar Lopez Rivera and Norberto Gonzalez Claudio!

They are workers and professionals, students and teachers, community organizers, artists, mothers, and fathers of families. They are fighters of Puerto Rico’s Independence and social justice. These men and women found Puerto Rico’s Colonial reality intolerable and unacceptable. This situation led them to join the Puerto Rican Independence movement and to confront the United States government directly. The majority of the Political Prisoners have spent more than 18 years in federal prisons for their political activities.

During the 1970’s and the beginning of the 80’s, the prisoners were involved in community, union, student and political struggles in Puerto Rico and the United States. They fought for the people’s right to high quality, free education. They worked to create community institutions such as alternative education programs, child-care centers, health centers, housing cooperatives, recreational facilities and political organizations. They participated actively in churches, student groups, unions, professional associations, committees against repression, campaigns against youth violence and drugs. In summary they challenged the U.S. political system in many ways.

The U.S. invaded Puerto Rico on July 25th, 1898 and for over 100 years has exercised colonial control over the people of Puerto Rico. International Law defines colonialism as a crime against humanity and gives a colonized people the right to use all means at their disposal to end the colonial domination by a foreign power. United Nations Resolution 1514 calls for a transfer of all political power to the colonized nation, the withdrawal of all military and paramilitary troops, reparations and the freedom of all political prisoners for a process of de-colonization to be genuine one, in compliance with International Law.

Throughout their lives they suffered the Puerto Rican colonial reality and the consequences of their political and community involvement. They were fired from their jobs, kicked out of schools and universities, denied scholarships, threatened, spied on, attacked by the police and the FBI. And when they rose up and fought against these injustices they were branded as terrorists and placed in some of the worst prisons in the U.S.