Chicago’s Puerto Rican and Latino communities Make Pledge for Oscar!

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Freezing temperatures did not deter nearly seventy-five people from making a public pledge to actively support the international campaign for the incarceration of Oscar López Rivera. The event, hosted by Alyssa Villegas, a leader of Batey Urbano and editor of Que Ondee Sola, the Puerto Rican student newsletter at Northeastern Illinois University, and Matt Rodríguez, the principal of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School, was held at Batey Urbano on Sunday, January 20, 2013.

Michelle Morales, Network spokesperson, then read a reflection and thanks by Oscar written on the occasion of his 70th birthday on Jan 6, 2013. The attendees filled out pledge card and committed to take packets with 32 letters for President Obama, as well as, indicate any skills or resources they were willing to volunteer to the campaign.

After they filled out the pledge, several individuals stood up and spoke about what they were willing to contribute to the campaign – talking to prominent individuals, their church clergy, student organizations, organizing letter drives and helping to mobilize to community events were just some of the ways that people thought they could contribute.

Jan Susler, attorney for Oscar, related the support for Oscar’s freedom generated by the Human Rights Summit last December in Puerto Rico as prominent personalities and international struggles were represented.

Matt McCanna, Batey leader and Network member then spoke about his video of the “31 Days for 31 Years” project and how it has helped the Network conduct educational work around the campaign.

 
Close to ten members of Oscar’s family then took the stage, from the youngest Eli to Oscar’s brother José, to thank everyone present for supporting the campaign thus far and exhort all to press forward in the upcoming period. Ricardo Jiménez took the stage, also to thank the crowd for all of their work, but more to remind them of the previous success in freeing Puerto Rican political prisoners in 1979, 1999 and more recently, in 2010 with Carlos Alberto Torres.

The event closed on a powerful, emotive note as a meal of white rice with stewed eggplant and chicken, avocado and lettuce salad, and cake was served. Lourdes Lugo, Oscar’s niece and campaign spokesperson, explained that Clarisa, Oscar’s daughter, has planned to cook this meal upon Oscar’s release. Becky Rios, activist and student at NEIU, brought the cake and had the bakery write “Free Oscar López Rivera” on it. A fitting end to an activity that has re-energized the campaign to free Oscar in the Windy City.

Close to ten members of Oscar’s family then took the stage, from the youngest Eli to Oscar’s brother José, to thank everyone present for supporting the campaign thus far and exhort all to press forward in the upcoming period. Ricardo Jiménez took the stage, also to thank the crowd for all of their work, but more to remind them of the previous success in freeing Puerto Rican political prisoners in 1979, 1999 and more recently, in 2010 with Carlos Alberto Torres.

The event closed on a powerful, emotive note as a meal of white rice with stewed eggplant and chicken, avocado and lettuce salad, and cake was served. Lourdes Lugo, Oscar’s niece and campaign spokesperson, explained that Clarisa, Oscar’s daughter, has planned to cook this meal upon Oscar’s release. Becky Rios, activist and student at NEIU, brought the cake and had the bakery write “Free Oscar López Rivera” on it. A fitting end to an activity that has re-energized the campaign to free Oscar in the Windy City.