On Wednesday the daughter of recently freed Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar Lopez Rivera, one of the longest-serving political prisoners in the U.S., publicly thanked the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua for their steadfast support and solidarity during the decades-long international campaign for his release.
Who Is Oscar Lopez Rivera?
"Today we celebrate the victory of the Puerto Rican people. My deepest thanks to the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua," said Clarisa Lopez Ramos, daughter of Lopez Rivera, to sharp applause during a press conference in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan.
Speaking publicly for the first time since President Obama's announcement Tuesday of the commutation of her father’s sentence, ending Lopez Rivera’s 35-year imprisonment for political crimes as part of the Puerto Rican independence struggle, Lopez Ramos was surrounded by longtime supporters.
"My father always wished I would receive his freedom like a birthday present," added Lopez Ramos, who celebrated her 46th birthday on Wednesday. "Today, I celebrate life and justice, and the best birthday present: my dear old dad will finally come home."
Speaking to reporters just before leaving for Chicago to meet her father this weekend, Lopez Ramos added, "the past hours have been the happiest of my life. I’m the luckiest daughter in the world because I have the most wonderful, loving, sensible father who taught me how to resist and struggle."
Lopez Rivera will be officially released on May 17 of this year, and his daughter said that after a few days in Chicago visiting friends and family in the city where he spent years as a community activist, he will come to live with her in San Juan.
During the press conference, San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto reiterated her decision to offer Lopez Rivera a job with the municipality upon his return, saying "he will make his living by working," and noting Lopez Rivera’s years of community work in Chicago.
She also announced that this coming Monday, Jan. 23, would be declared a municipal holiday in celebration of Tuesday’s announcement, noting that everyone in the city has called for his release regardless of party affiliation or ideology.
This last point was further emphasized by right-wing Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares’ tweet on Wednesday evening thanking President Obama "for having listened to the cries of all Puerto Ricans and pardoning Oscar Lopez."