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  • A mural of Oscar López Rivera in Puerto Rico

    A mural of Oscar López Rivera in Puerto Rico | Photo: indymedia.org

Published 17 January 2017

Politicians, celebrities and activists across the world are cheering on the Puerto Rican independence leader's release.

By now, you’ve probably Googled his name a few times to find out why everyone’s talking about him — Oscar Lopez Rivera.

Oscar Lopez Rivera to Be Freed After 36 Years in US Prison

Rivera is a Puerto Rican independence leader who has been imprisoned in the United States for 36 years, the longest-held political prisoner in the U.S. from Latin America. He was arrested by the FBI in 1981 for his involvement in the revolutionary struggle to free the Caribbean island from U.S. colonialism.

On Tuesday, outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama commuted Rivera’s sentence, allowing him to walk free on May 17.

News of his pardon immediately stirred up celebration on social media. But Puerto Ricans aren't the only ones who are celebrating — politicians, celebrities and activists across the world are cheering, too.

Here’s how the world is celebrating Rivera’s freedom.


Puerto Rican hip hop artist who is a member of Calle 13, an alternative rap collective that frequently protests U.S. colonialism.

“Oscar Lopez Rivera has been set free!! Puerto Rico, we come from the same heritage of struggle. We accomplished it united as brothers.”

Ricky Martin

Puerto Rican singer and actor who earned international fame with the Menudo boy band.

“Today my island is even more happy! There is justice. Thank you @BarackObama for liberating our very own Oscar Lopez”

Bernie Sanders

United States Senator from Vermont and Democratic Party candidate during the 2016 presidential election.

Alejandro Garcia Padilla

Former governor of Puerto Rico.

“Congratulations for the liberation of Oscar Lopez. This was a struggle for all of Puerto Rico. Thank you @POTUS. -AGP”

Eva Golinger

United States-born attorney and political activist for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Nicolas Maduro

President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

“Congratulations Puerto Rico ... The union of global consciousness has accomplished the upcoming liberation of Oscar Lopez ... Venezuela is your home and country.”

Patricia Villegas

Colombian journalist and president of teleSUR.

“Obama pardons Oscar Lopez. Learn his story: @profesorlupa youtu.be/-fHrzk4pyao.”

Rodrigo Starz

Chilean social justice activist and member of political rap duo Rebel Diaz.

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