IN PICTURES: To mark Lopez Rivera'a historic release, teleSUR returns to some of the most iconic images from his life and legendary welcome home.
Oscar Lopez Rivera, the longest-held political prisoner in the U.S. from Latin America, was freed Wednesday after serving 36 years in U.S. prison.
His historic release was celebrated by his supporters from across the world.
Puerto Rican Oscar Lopez Rivera (C) carries a national flag as he meets with supporters after being released from house arrest in San Juan, Puerto Rico May 17, 2017.
Puerto Rican Oscar Lopez Rivera (C) hugs a supporter after being released from house arrest in San Juan, Puerto Rico May 17, 2017.
Supporters cheer as Puerto Rican Oscar Lopez Rivera (not pictured) arrives after being released from house arrest in San Juan, Puerto Rico May 17, 2017.
Puerto Rican Oscar Lopez Rivera (R) greets followers after being released from house arrest in San Juan, Puerto Rico May 17, 2017.
Oscar Lopez Rivera was born in Puerto Rico in 1943 and upon returning to Chicago after serving in the Vietnam War, he joined the struggle for Puerto Rican rights, participating in acts of civil disobedience and other actions.
In 1976, he joined the clandestine fight for the independence of Puerto Rico from U.S. colonial rule as a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation. In 1981, he was captured by the FBI and accused of “conspiracy.”
The U.S. did not recognize Lopez Rivera’s as a prisoner of war, which he proclaimed himself, refusing to recognize the authority of U.S. colonial power. He was sentenced to 55 years in prison. After an alleged attempt to escape, the sentence was increased to 70 years in prison, 12 of which he spent in solitary confinement.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton offered him a pardon in 1999, along with 13 other FALN members, but Lopez Rivera rejected it because it included completing 10 more years in jail. Leaders from around the world, as well as human rights organizations, have demanded his release for many years.
"I can say that I have lived because I have transcended some of the many challenges that I have had to face, and continue to strive to transcend those that I have not yet overcome," Lopez Rivera said in a letter addressed to Cuban Revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.
As the years went by, the push to free Lopez Rivera intensified. In 2017, over 125,000 people, including multiple Nobel Peace Prize winners, signed a petition asking President Obama to grant clemency to the 74-year-old former independence leader.
Oscar Lopez Rivera hugs his granddaughter Clarisa Lopez Ramos. The family of the independence leader are eagerly awaiting his release from house arrest in Puerto Rico.
Lopez Rivera’s brother and daughter join a panel discussing his release. After returning to Puerto Rico, Lopez Rivera was under house arrest in his daughter's home.
Huge support has amassed for the Puerto Rican independence leader. Many are predicting his release will revive the Puerto Rican independence movement.