Rasmea Odeh and Oscar Lopez Rivera, Chicago, 18 May. Photo: Christine Geovanis.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Oscar López Rivera and the Puerto Rican people on the occasion of his release after over 36 years of imprisonment. The release of López Rivera is a victory for his steadfast through over 36 years of imprisonment and the commitment of the Puerto Rican people to struggle for his freedom and that of all the Puerto Rican political prisoners in colonial U.S. jails.

His over 35 years of imprisonment for “seditious conspiracy” was in fact targeting him as a Puerto Rican revolutionary against U.S. colonialism, struggling for the freedom of his people. He was targeted as part of a systematic attack on the revolutionary Puerto Rican struggle.

Rasmea Odeh welcomes Oscar Lopez Rivera, 18 May, Chicago. Photo: Christine Geovanis

We also salute the joyous anti-colonial reception for López Rivera in Humboldt Park in Chicago, where he was received by the Puerto Rican community and all strugglers for justice. Palestinian organizers and community activists were a prominent part of the occasion, where, in a particulary moving tribute and expression of mutual solidarity, Rasmea Odeh, community leader and former political prisoner, presented Lopez Rivera with a Palestinian keffiyeh. US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) organizers carried Palestinian and Puerto Rican flags and banners saluting the joint anti-colonial struggle of the Puerto Rican and Palestinian people.

https://web.facebook.com/USPCN/videos/1560056340695869/

The Puerto Rican movement has long expressed its support for the Palestinian struggle, a support that has been reflected in the current hunger strike of 1500 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. Student strikers at the University of Puerto Rico confronting austerity have supported the #DignityStrike, while fellow former Puerto Rican political prisoner Luis Rosa Perez also expressed his solidarity with the prisoners.

“As an anticolonial fighter and former political prisoner, I stood side by side, every day, for the nearly 20 years I and my comrades spent in U.S. prisons, with the hundreds of men, women, and children in the dungeons of Israeli prisons. In addition, I stand today with those who move through the shadows on nightly missions, who give their love, their sweat and blood, for this beautiful cause of freedom.

I thank you for your resistance and your ability to live. You have served as an inspiration to many peoples in struggle. Your ability to love and grow while facing such hatred and destruction nurtures the flames of resistance throughout the world.

The nation of Puerto Rico will continue to struggle against U.S. colonialism and all of its vestiges. Our victories will be our strongest acts of solidarity, just as the victories of Palestinians will nourish our struggle. Thank you for your resistance. We march at your side.”

López Rivera wasted no time in asserting his internationalist solidarity upon his release; not only did he stand with Palestine, he voiced his solidarity with Venezuela in a televised phone conversation with Nicolas Maduro, also on 18 April, and his support for the Black Lives Matter movement. A lifelong anti-colonial struggler, his release is a victory for all peoples of the world struggling for freedom and liberation, and of course for the people of Puerto Rico.

Oscar Lopez Rivera in Chicago, 18 May 2017. Photo: Christine Geovanis

We express our deepest admiration for his sacrifice and his struggle over decades behind bars, without ever conceding on his principles and clarity of vision. Oscar López Rivera is an international figure and symbol of anti-colonial struggle, and a living leader and example for strugglers for justice. On this occasion, we also urge the immediate release of all political prisoners in U.S. prisons, including the prisoners of the Black Liberation movement, Puerto Rican prisoner Ana Belen Montes, Native and Indigenous movements, and Palestinian strugglers like the Holy Land Five. We express our full solidarity with the continuing struggle of the Puerto Rican people for justice and liberation and against colonialism and its imposed austerity. From Puerto Rico to Palestine, the people are struggling to defeat colonialism and free all political prisoners!