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 Building Bridges 
 
 Weekly Program
 
 Ken Nash and Mimi Rosenberg  
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Oscar Lopez Rivera on U.S. Colonialism After Hurricane Maria

Oscar Lopez Rivera has been called the Nelson Mandela of Puerto Rico. Indeed, like the South African legend, Rivera was imprisoned for his anti-colonial activism and spent decades in prison. But in January 2017, after serving 35 years of his 70-year sentence, President Barack Obama, as one of his last acts in office, commuted Riveras sentence. In May 2017 Oscar Lopez Rivera was a free man.

Oscar Lopez Rivera has become a symbol of resistance to people the world over and became one of the longest serving political prisoners in the world. Among those who spoke out for his release were Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Francis, Senator Bernie Sanders, playwright Lin Manuel Miranda and others. Organizers of the 2017 National Puerto Rican Day Parade designated him as the National Freedom Hero. Recently Lopez Rivera sat down with Building Bridges Mimi Rosenberg, to discuss his frustration and anger with the American government, detailing how Puerto Ricans have been treated since the Caribbean island became an unincorporated territory of the United States in 1898. He lamented that Puerto Ricans are still a colonized people 120 years later, Lopez Rivera said, Puerto Ricans didnt ask for citizenship; we didnt want it. Since being colonized, Puerto Ricans havent been treated as humans; we have been marginalized, exploited and used by the United States who wanted our sugar cane and to create military bases. Lopez Rivera said there are two things he knows how to do best- struggle and work. He stated multiple times that he has never advocated any form of violence and this fight for independence must be an act of love. People who love freedom and justice should care about Puerto Rico, Lopez Rivera emphasized. We have the potential to be a free nation, but its up to us. We will struggle and do what needs to be done. Lopez Rivera also spoke at length about Hurricane Maria and the humanitarian crisis taking place. Although it struck September 20, 2017, there are still more than 400,000 people without power. More than 550 residents were killed, and others are still missing. Maria is considered the worst natural disaster to ever strike the area.
Produced by Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash
please notify us if you plan to broadcast this program - knash@igc.org

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