Decolonization, Hurricanes & Solidarity with Puerto Rico

Oscar Lopez Rivera Tours Southern California Feb 5-9

by Lawrence Reyes, Puerto Rican Alliance

As Puerto Rico faces its most severe, existential crisis after 120 years as a militarily-occupied colony of the United States, Oscar Lopez Rivera, a recently-released Puerto Rican political prisoner held by the US, is coming to southern California to discuss Puerto Rican resistance and recovery efforts from the devastating impact of a triple whammy: Hurricane Maria, debt to Wall Street hedge funds, and the US response of seeking to de-populate the island.

López Rivera is an inspiring example of the power of principled commitment and resistance to oppression and repression. He is known as a Latin American Mandela. A decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, he served more than 35 years in federal prison for his commitment to independence for Puerto Rico; post-release, he is more dedicated than ever to serving his homeland and its working people.

Oscar López Rivera brings word of the historic struggle of all Puerto Ricans, and particularly Puerto Rican workers, on the island and in the US, for human dignity and economic rights, and of the current self-determined efforts at the grassroots to meet people’s needs, as FEMA has denied funds for local recovery even in the form of loans, but has spent money on a ship to transport Puerto Ricans from their homeland to the mainland. Puerto Ricans are being used as a new source of low wage labor to replace immigrants being deported by Trump.

The hurricane and its aftermath have worsened the existing problems. Despite the efforts of organized labor, working people in Puerto Rico get a smaller share of total income than do their counterparts here in the U.S. Thousands of jobs are threatened by the onerous “PROMESA” Fiscal Control Board. Effectively a junta mainly appointed by the Republican-dominated US Congress, it oversees the budget and government spending in Puerto Rico in order to meet the demands of Wall Street and hedge funds for debt repayment. Unlike US states and municipalities, Puerto Rico is denied by the US Congress the power to arrange for an orderly court-supervised bankruptcy process, and so its creditors get first claim on its funds, forcing the closing of schools and other essential services, and lay-offs of workers.

Upon finally being freed, López Rivera was greeted by tens of thousands of cheering Puerto Ricans. Since his release in May 2017, López Rivera has worked to provide community and labor aid for recovery in Puerto Rico, as well as addressing the needs of the Puerto Rican diaspora in the U.S. as he did in the years before his incarceration. This tour is raising funds for the Oscar López Rivera Foundation (Fundación Oscar López Rivera-Libertá) to support its important work and relief efforts. You can donate directly to support the Foundation, by writing a check made out to GLACTS (Great Lakes Asian Center for Theologies and Strategies) (Fiscal Agent for Oscar Lopez Rivera Foundation) and mailing it to: Fundación Oscar López Rivera-Libertá, c/o Toby Emmer, 483 17th Street, #2A, Brooklyn NY 11215.


Mon Feb 5: afternoon – UC Santa Barbara; eve – Casa de la Raza

Tue Feb 6: AM – CSU Channel Islands (Ventura); afternoon- CSUN;

5:30pm Labor/legal reception,

7pm Community event: Maya Angelou HS, 300 E. 53rd St., 90011

Wed Feb 7: AM – Pasadena City College; afternoon CSULA;

5:30p Reception – Kirk Douglas Theater, Culver City

Thu Feb 8: 12n – Pomona College (Claremont CA)

evening – UCLA

Fri Feb 9: 7am – ICUJP w/ Rev. Lawson (Immanuel Presbyterian)

afternoon: Chapman University (Santa Ana)

evening: San Diego community event

For more information and to schedule media events and interviews, please call 310-460-8586. More information about Oscar López Rivera and the colonial case of Puerto Rico is available here: Updated information about the Southern California visit itinerary is available here:

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