Thousands of people marched in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Oct. 8 to demand the release of four Puerto Rican political prisoners being held in US jails. Oscar Lopez Rivera, Carlos Alberto Torres and Haydee Beltran Torres have been jailed for over 25 years; they were arrested in the early 1980s for alleged involvement in the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), a pro-independence group. Lopez Rivera, Torres and Beltran are serving stiff sentences for “seditious conspiracy” and other charges: 55 years, 78 years and life in prison, respectively. Jose Perez Gonzalez is serving a five-year sentence for acts of vandalism during the May 1, 2003 celebration marking the US Navy’s departure from the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.
The three-mile march from the Miramar neighborhood to Old San Juan was led by a number of former political prisoners, including Lolita Lebron, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Elizam Escobar, Carmen Valentin, Edwin Cortes, Ricardo Jimenez, Adolfo Matos and sisters Alicia and Lucy Rodriguez. Lebron and Cancel Miranda were jailed for a 1954 attack on the US Congress but were freed in 1979 by then-US president Jimmy Carter. The other seven were among 11 prisoners released after being granted leniency in 1999 by then-president Bill Clinton. Attending the march as a special guest was Nora Cortinas of Argentina, co-founder of Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. (El Nuevo Herald, Miami, Oct. 9 from AP; Pro-Libertad website)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 22
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