Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera Officially Set Free

The island of Puerto Rico is surely on one today after learning that political prisoner Oscar López Rivera has been officially set free –from house arrest – on Wednesday (May 17), after spending 36 years in U.S. custody. For the uninitiated, the aforementioned bid is one of the longest served of any political prisoner in the country, and the island’s longest-held.

López Rivera’s in 1981 was sentenced to 55 years in prison for his involvement with Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), a radical and pro-liberation armed force notorious for dozens of bombings on the island as well as New York City, Chicago and DC in the ’70s and ’80s. He was tried for seditious conspiracy, use of force to commit robbery and interstate transportation of firearms, among other things, except for the bombings.

READ: Boricua Pride Shines In NYC, But ‘War Against All Puerto Ricans’ Continues

The 74-year-old’s sentence was commuted along with hundreds of other imprisoned individuals – Chelsea Manning included – thanks to President Barack Obama in his last days in office.

And even after decades of incarceration, the Puerto Rican nationalist’s passion for freedom and love for his country remains unwavering.

Luego de casi 36 años encarcelado, Oscar López recibe su primer aire de libertad. #OscarLopez

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“I never permitted that nothing, nothing, nothing took away the love for my homeland,” he says in Spanish to Periódico Claridad. “I think today I have more love for my homeland than I felt in 1981, when they took me to court and sentenced me to 55 years. I think this year I have more love for my country than I did that day.”

READ: A Look At “Independence” For Puerto Ricans Under U.S. Colonialism

A celebrated a hero and freedom fighter to many Boricuas (and many other Latinos), López Rivera will be met with jubilee at home today, and that celebration will be carried over into next month, when he’s honored at the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York (June 11).

Previously in court, López River maintained that “Puerto Rico will be free,” by any means necessary.