Puerto Rico: Lolita Lebr贸n remembered, Carlos Alberto Torres freed

Hundreds of supporters of Puerto Rican independence gathered at the Ateneo Puertorrique帽o, one of the island’s oldest cultural centers, in San Juan on Aug. 2 to commemorate Dolores (“Lolita”) Lebr贸n Sotomayor. Lebr贸n, who died the day before of cardiovascular complications at the age of 90, led an armed attack on the US Congress on March 1, 1954, and spent 25 years and six months in a US prison before being pardoned in 1979 by US president Jimmy Carter (1977-1981). She was a “mythic figure,” Rub茅n Berr铆os, president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), told the Spanish wire service EFE. “Lolita’s death wasn’t a death, because she will never be forgotten,” said former prisoner Rafael Cancel Miranda, one of the five participants in the attack. “The person who hasn’t left anything behind is forgotten.”

Lebr贸n continued to be a political activist after her release. At age 81 she served 60 days in prison in 2001 for participating in a nonviolent civil disobedience protesting the US military testing grounds on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. (See Weekly News Updates #s 596, 599) (EFE, Aug. 2)

On July 26 US authorities released independence activist Carlos Alberto Torres from the federal prison in Pekin, Illinois. Torres had served 30 years of a 78-year sentence for “seditious conspiracy.” He was a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), which took responsibility for numerous bombings in the US in the 1970s, although Torres himself wasn’t charged with any of the attacks. He refused a clemency offered by US president Bill Clinton (1993-2001) in 1999.

Torres told EFE after his release on parole that he would return to Puerto Rico and continue his political activities while being “a good citizen who respects the laws.” “I’m still the same fighter, but things have changed in Puerto Rico and in the world,” he said. “Now I believe I can pursue Puerto Rico’s independence from within a movement that is integrated into civil society鈥攚hich is different from what we did in the 1970s.” (EFE, July 26)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 15.

See our last post on Puerto Rico.