Oscar Lopez Rivera, the Puerto Rican independence fighter freed from prison after 36 years in May, told young Cubans they are the “future of every society” a day after receiving the Order of Solidarity.
Speaking at the University of Havana, Lopez Rivera said: “New generations are the driving force and future of every society.”
He noted that the Cuban Revolution would not have succeeded without “the young people who made it possible from the first moment to advance the country to the point of achieving what no other Latin American nation had.”
During his visit, the freedom fighter received the Commemorative Medal for the 55th Anniversary of the Union of Young Communists from First Secretary Susely Morfa.
Recibe #OscarLópezRivera en la @UdeLaHabana la Moneda Conmemorativa Aniversario 55 de la @UJCuba: "Este encuentro me llena de esperanza, de optimismo, de confianza…" https://t.co/WFFuHHBiFd│Vía @JuventudRebelde│Fotos - @CubaenFotos│#PuertoRico���� #Cuba����│@GerardoCuban5 pic.twitter.com/VpalxFpo6T— Cancillería de Cuba (@CubaMINREX) November 15, 2017
A day earlier, Lopez Rivera had received the Order of Solidarity from the Cuban State Council at the Jose Marti Memorial in Havana .
Upon his release, he had vowed to travel to Cuba to thank its people for their support during the 36 years he spent in prison, a visit he said has become a dream come true.
His agenda included a tour of Old Havana, as well as a meeting with representatives of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), where he was honored.
On arrival at Jose Marti International Airport on Sunday, the lifelong activist was greeted by Fernando Gonzalez Llort, one of the Cuban 5, with whom he shared a prison cell with for more than four years in the United States.
Gonzalez Llort, now ICAP's president, was one of five Cubans convicted of espionage for monitoring anti-Cuban groups based in Miami to prevent terrorist actions against the Cuban people.
Earlier this month, at the World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi, Russia, Lopez Rivera told the audience it was up to the young to “fight against imperialism.”
In 1976, Lopez Rivera joined Puerto Rico's clandestine fight for independence as a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation. In 1981, he was captured by the FBI and accused of "conspiracy."
Leaders from around the world, as well as human rights organizations, had demanded his release for decades. On Jan. 17, former U.S. President Barack Obama commuted his sentence and he was finally released in May.
Lopez Rivera continues to speak out against the 199-year colonization of Puerto Rico by the United States.