Latino activists and celebrities rejoiced yesterday when President Barrack Obama announced that he was commuting Oscar López Rivera, one of the world’s longest-serving political prisoners. He’s been serving a 70-year sentence since 1981.
The Puerto Rican activist fought against discrimination, exploitation, and police brutality in Chicago’s Puerto Rican communities in the late 60’s. He helped create the Puerto Rican High School and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and played a key role in campaigning for bilingual education in schools.
López Rivera was convicted of “seditious conspiracy” for plotting to overthrow the U.S. government in 1981 and sentenced to 55 years in prison. Then in 1988, he was sentenced to an additional 15 years in prison for conspiring to escape from the Leavenworth Federal Prison.