Residente, the Puerto Rican rapper and founder of the internationally renowned Calle 13, posted a video Wednesday thanking the people of Latin America who contributed to the release of political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera, also thanking Senator Bernie Sanders and outgoing President Barack Obama.
Who Is Oscar Lopez Rivera?
“It was a great demonstration of unity in Puerto Rico, the political parties disappeared,” he said in an emotional video message sent from his studio, stressing the role of the movement who have for decades fought Rivera's corner, such as Lopez's daughter and his family in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, as well as the grassroots movement in the U.S. and elsewhere.
"The changes that (President-elect Donald) Trump would have yielded to the demands were very small," he added, referencing the role of Barack Obama in Lopez Rivera's release.
Residente has been a long-time supporter of Puerto Rican independence.
“Oscar Lopez Rivera is braver than George Washington because he fought for his country's independence without having a majority backing him... Every second he spends in prison makes him a bigger hero,” the Puerto Rican rapper said back in December.
The release of the iconic political prisoner followed a petition signed by over 100,000 people, including Puerto Rico's current and former governors Alejandro Garcia Padilla and Ricardo Rossello, and pop singer Ricky Martin.
A leader in the Puerto Rican independence movement, Lopez Rivera declined the clemency offered by former President Bill Clinton in 1999, reportedly because it was not extended to all those who were detained with him.
At the age of 73, he is currently serving his 35th year in prison on charges related to his independence activities with the Armed Forces of National Liberation, which fought to liberate the island from the yoke of U.S. colonial rule that has seen the island subjugated since 1898.