Oscar López Rivera’s Message to the World

May 29, 2014

Oscar López Rivera is the longest held Puerto Rican political prisoner who’s endured 33 years of psychological and physical torture in the United States.

López Rivera’s “crime” was to work in support of the independence of Puerto Rico. His incarceration is a grotesque injustice that’s gone on for far too long.

http://www.elnuevodia.com

29 de mayo de 2014
El mensaje de Oscar

Con ocasión del 33 aniversario de su arresto y después de la entrevista que publica hoy El Nuevo Día en su edición impresa, el prisionero político Oscar López Rivera me envío una declaración, que quería sumar a las cosas dichas por teléfono a mediados de mes.

Puertorriqueños de todas las ideologías, los presidentes de los tres partidos políticos inscritos de la isla, líderes religiosos y obreros apoyan su excarcelación.

Fue convicto por el delito de sedición, equivalente a querer derrocar la presencia del gobierno de Estados Unidos en Puerto Rico a través de las actividades del grupo clandestino Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN). “No tengo sangre en mis manos”, ha dicho anteriormente a El Nuevo Día López Rivera, al desvincularse del ataque a la FrauncesTavern, en Nueva York.

En 1999, el entonces presidente Bill Clinton consideró que López Rivera debía ser excarcelado en 2009. López Rivera rechazó la oferta porque dos de sus compañeros seguirían en prisión y desconfiaba del largo tiempo de espera.

Hoy, es el único antiguo miembro de la FALN que sigue encarcelado. Ningún otro prisionero político puertorriqueño ha pasado tanto tiempo en prisión. Desde hace más de tres años presentó una petición de clemencia al presidente Barack Obama. A los 71 años, después de estar toda una generación encarcelado, ha solicitado al mismo gobierno que le hubiese liberado hace 5 años, dejarlo regresar a su familia y su isla.

Este es su mensaje de hoy al país, el cual escribió en inglés y traduje al español:

“Amar la patria no cuesta nada, lo que sí costaría es perderla. Para cualquier puertorriqueño que tenga dudas sobre cuán costoso sería perder nuestra patria le sugiero que visite las reservaciones de los Navajos o de los Dakotas. Allí puede ver qué le sucede a las personas que pierden su terruño. Debemos enfrentarnos a la verdad y lidiar con ella. Como puertorriqueños tenemos que aceptar el hecho de que Puerto Rico es una colonia y de que el colonialismo es inaceptable para la mayoría de los puertorriqueños y para la mayoría de las naciones en el mundo. Si aceptamos esta verdad, entonces debemos estar dispuestos y preparados a despuntar un proyecto de descolonización.

Este proyecto debe hacer un llamado a la unidad de todas las facciones del movimiento independentista y los elementos progresistas que ven la necesidad de crear nuestra nación propia. Un proyecto de descolonización rebasa una Asamblea Constitucional. Debemos asegurarnos de que el gobierno de Estados Unidos y la comunidad internacional (en particular los países de América Latina) asuman sus responsabilidades y se comprometan a ayudar con la implantación del proyecto. Tenemos que definir el papel de la diáspora puertorriqueña.

Sabemos que cualquier problema creado por el hombre tiene solución. El colonialismo es un problema creado por el hombre. También sabemos que contamos con los recursos humanos en Puerto Rico y en la diáspora puertorriqueña para resolver este problema. Sabemos que en casi un siglo de ser colonia de Estados Unidos el desarrollo de nuestra nación ha sido frustrado y descarrilado. Sabemos que tenemos una deuda que le tomará a muchas generaciones futuras resarcir. No podemos permitir que la herencia que le dejemos a las generaciones futuras solo sea una de deudas y problemas sociales, políticos y económicos. Enfrentemos el problema de nuestro status colonial. Trabajemos juntos para encontrar una solución. Descolonicemos nuestras mentes y espíritu y convirtámonos en ciudadanos de Puerto Rico.

Para aquellas personas que han dicho que yo no quiero salir de prisión, les sugiero que presten atención a lo que he dicho durante todos estos años que llevo encerrado y en el historial de nuestros prisioneros políticos. El hecho de que sea el prisionero político puertorriqueño con más años en prisión no borra el hecho de que otros prisioneros políticos puertorriqueños han estado casi tantos años (en cautiverio) como yo.

Por ejemplo, Carlos Alberto Torres, pasó más de 30 años en prisión y don Oscar Collazo López, 29 años. Rafael Cancel Miranda, estuvo 27 años y Lolita Lebrón e Irving Flores Rodríguez pasaron 25; y, Andrés Figueroa Cordero estuvo 24. Muchos de los compañeros(as) que salieron de prisión cuando (Bill) Clinton se los permitió en 1999 pasaron más de 19 años y los otros 16 años. Esos son muchos años de encierro para los prisioneros políticos puertorriqueños. Si fuéramos a preguntarle a cualquiera de los prisioneros políticos arriba mencionados si ellos querían salir de prisión, sus respuestas serían en la afirmativa. Para empezar, ninguno queríamos estar en prisión y ninguno de nosotros ha entretenido la absurda idea de permanecer encerrados.

Antes de llegar a prisión gozaba de una vida llena de experiencias enriquecedoras. Disfrutaba y celebraba aquella vida. En prisión, a pesar de ser el ambiente más deshumanizante, tóxico y hostil que cualquier ser humano pueda experimentar, aún siento que he tenido una vida y que puedo celebrar toda mi vida por todas las magníficas cosas que me ha dado. No siento odio ni miedo en mi corazón y quiero irme de la cárcel con mi honor, mi dignidad y mi espíritu intacto, seguro y sano.

Soy creyente de que la verdad sobrevivirá y prevalecerá tal como nuestra batalla y noble causa han podido hacerlo durante siglos. Soy puertorriqueño y no quiero ser ninguna otra cosa. Pero también me considero un ciudadano de este universo en que vivimos. Creo que es posible un mundo mejor y más justo y es por tal una de las razones que elijo luchar por la independencia de mi patria. Reclamo “¡ay de él/ella que no tiene patria!”. Mucho amor. EN RESISTENCIA Y LUCHA, OLR”.


Eduardo Galeano Disavows His Book ‘The Open Veins’

May 29, 2014

It is really disappointing, terribly disappointing, to read Galeano’s comments regarding the masterful book that he wrote which presents the tragic history of Latin America and the forces responsible for its devastation in a clear and concise narrative.

“The Open Veins of Latin America” is a superb book. It is a book that not only has stood the test of time but continues to be relevant and speaks to the social, economic, and political conditions in Latin America today.

The influence of “Open Veins” on the masses in Latin America and other parts of the world is incalculable.

Is it possible that a writer, as brilliant as Galeano, can forget the power of his own work?

For more than 40 years, Eduardo Galeano’s “The Open Veins of Latin America” has been the canonical anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist and anti-American text in that region. Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s populist president, even put a copy of the book, which he had called “a monument in our Latin American history,” in President Obama’s hands the first time they met. But now Mr. Galeano, a 73-year-old Uruguayan writer, has disavowed the book, saying that he was not qualified to tackle the subject and that it was badly written. Predictably, his remarks have set off a vigorous regional debate, with the right doing some “we told you so” gloating, and the left clinging to a dogged defensiveness.

“ ‘Open Veins’ tried to be a book of political economy, but I didn’t yet have the necessary training or preparation,” Mr. Galeano said last month while answering questions at a book fair in Brazil, where he was being honored on the 43rd anniversary of the book’s publication. He added: “I wouldn’t be capable of reading this book again; I’d keel over. For me, this prose of the traditional left is extremely leaden, and my physique can’t tolerate it.”

Click here for the entire article


Chinua Achebe discusses Africa 50 years after “Things Fall Apart”

July 31, 2013

The Literary Giant on his most influential novel, its impact on Africa and the rest of the world.


Eduardo Galeano Interview

May 25, 2013

Here’s a recent interview on Democracy Now with the great Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. During the interview Galeano reads several selections from his latest book “Children of the Days”.

Always interesting and insightful, we are indeed fortunate to have Galeano still with us, still writing, still enlightening.

Part 1

Part 2


Amigo

August 26, 2011

Dr. King Weeps From His Grave

August 26, 2011

These are the Black voices that MATTER not the uncritical Obama cheerleaders like Al Sharpton, Tom Joyner, Roland Martin, et al.

Sharpton, who has a new show on MSNBC, went as far to say that he will not criticize President Obama.

In light of that, are people really supposed to take his political opinions/analysis seriously?

What a horrible disservice to the political discourse in the US and even more so heading into an election year.

Cornel West is absolutely correct to raise the important issues that MLK fought against and ultimately lost his life over.

Poverty, Racism, US Militarism and Economic Injustice.

All of these problems not only still exist but remain as important as ever because these are the real causes for the economic divide and social inequality that is prevalent in our society.

And it is concrete proof that even with a Black President in office, the wealth, racial and power structure in the US remains unchanged.

nytimes.com
Dr. King Weeps From His Grave
By CORNEL WEST

Princeton, N.J.

THE Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was to be dedicated on the National Mall on Sunday — exactly 56 years after the murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi and 48 years after the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (Because of Hurricane Irene, the ceremony has been postponed.)

These events constitute major milestones in the turbulent history of race and democracy in America, and the undeniable success of the civil rights movement — culminating in the election of Barack Obama in 2008 — warrants our attention and elation. Yet the prophetic words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel still haunt us: “The whole future of America depends on the impact and influence of Dr. King.”

Rabbi Heschel spoke those words during the last years of King’s life, when 72 percent of whites and 55 percent of blacks disapproved of King’s opposition to the Vietnam War and his efforts to eradicate poverty in America. King’s dream of a more democratic America had become, in his words, “a nightmare,” owing to the persistence of “racism, poverty, militarism and materialism.” He called America a “sick society.” On the Sunday after his assassination, in 1968, he was to have preached a sermon titled “Why America May Go to Hell.”

King did not think that America ought to go to hell, but rather that it might go to hell owing to its economic injustice, cultural decay and political paralysis. He was not an American Gibbon, chronicling the decline and fall of the American empire, but a courageous and visionary Christian blues man, fighting with style and love in the face of the four catastrophes he identified.

Militarism is an imperial catastrophe that has produced a military-industrial complex and national security state and warped the country’s priorities and stature (as with the immoral drones, dropping bombs on innocent civilians). Materialism is a spiritual catastrophe, promoted by a corporate media multiplex and a culture industry that have hardened the hearts of hard-core consumers and coarsened the consciences of would-be citizens. Clever gimmicks of mass distraction yield a cheap soulcraft of addicted and self-medicated narcissists.

Racism is a moral catastrophe, most graphically seen in the prison industrial complex and targeted police surveillance in black and brown ghettos rendered invisible in public discourse. Arbitrary uses of the law — in the name of the “war” on drugs — have produced, in the legal scholar Michelle Alexander’s apt phrase, a new Jim Crow of mass incarceration. And poverty is an economic catastrophe, inseparable from the power of greedy oligarchs and avaricious plutocrats indifferent to the misery of poor children, elderly citizens and working people.

The age of Obama has fallen tragically short of fulfilling King’s prophetic legacy. Instead of articulating a radical democratic vision and fighting for homeowners, workers and poor people in the form of mortgage relief, jobs and investment in education, infrastructure and housing, the administration gave us bailouts for banks, record profits for Wall Street and giant budget cuts on the backs of the vulnerable.

As the talk show host Tavis Smiley and I have said in our national tour against poverty, the recent budget deal is only the latest phase of a 30-year, top-down, one-sided war against the poor and working people in the name of a morally bankrupt policy of deregulating markets, lowering taxes and cutting spending for those already socially neglected and economically abandoned. Our two main political parties, each beholden to big money, offer merely alternative versions of oligarchic rule.

The absence of a King-worthy narrative to reinvigorate poor and working people has enabled right-wing populists to seize the moment with credible claims about government corruption and ridiculous claims about tax cuts’ stimulating growth. This right-wing threat is a catastrophic response to King’s four catastrophes; its agenda would lead to hellish conditions for most Americans.

King weeps from his grave. He never confused substance with symbolism. He never conflated a flesh and blood sacrifice with a stone and mortar edifice. We rightly celebrate his substance and sacrifice because he loved us all so deeply. Let us not remain satisfied with symbolism because we too often fear the challenge he embraced. Our greatest writer, Herman Melville, who spent his life in love with America even as he was our most fierce critic of the myth of American exceptionalism, noted, “Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges; hence the conclusion of such a narration is apt to be less finished than an architectural finial.”

King’s response to our crisis can be put in one word: revolution. A revolution in our priorities, a re-evaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens.

In concrete terms, this means support for progressive politicians like Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont and Mark Ridley-Thomas, a Los Angeles County supervisor; extensive community and media organizing; civil disobedience; and life and death confrontations with the powers that be. Like King, we need to put on our cemetery clothes and be coffin-ready for the next great democratic battle.

Cornel West, a philosopher, is a professor at Princeton.


Dennis Brutus

January 8, 2010

Your beautiful, powerful poetry and your lifelong fight against racism, apartheid and social injustice will never be forgotten. It will always be an inspiration.

RIP Brother

I am a rebel and freedom is my cause
Many of you have fought similar struggles
therefore you must join my cause:
My cause is a dream of freedom
and you must help me make my dream reality:
For why should I not dream and hope?
Is not revolution making reality of hopes?
Let us work together that my dream may be fulfilled
that I may return with my people out of exile
to live in one democracy in peace.
Is not my dream a noble one
worthy to stand beside freedom struggles everywhere?