venezuelan president offers to release opposition leader in exchange for oscar lópez rivera

by Tim Phillips

Oscar López Rivera was convicted of conspiring against the U.S. government as part of the FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation), a Puerto Rican nationalist group. He was arrested in 1981, tried for seditious conspiracy, convicted, and sentenced to 55 years in prison. As his co-defendants had done, he presented no defense and pursued no appeal.

In 1987, López Rivera received an additional 15-year sentence for conspiracy to escape. He is the longest held Puerto Rican political prisoner in the history of Puerto Rico’s independence movement. According to a May 29 Mother Jones article by Shane Bauer,

In all, the FALN claimed responsibility for more than 120 bombings across the US between 1974 and 1983, leading to the death of six and the injury of dozens. But the basis for López’s conviction was specifically the more than two-dozen bombings claimed by the organization in the Chicago area, none of which resulted in injuries. A 1980 Chicago Tribune editorial observed that the bombs were “placed and timed as to damage property rather than persons” and that the FALN was “out to call attention to their cause rather than to shed blood.”

Yesterday Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro offered to release opposition leader Leopoldo López if the U.S. releases López Rivera, whose 72nd birthday is tomorrow.