On December 13, 2016, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter wrote to President Barack Obama to ask for the release of political prisoner Oscar López Rivera and remind him that in 1979 he freed our Puerto Rican nationalists who were convicted of “most serious charges.”
“You have an impressive track record in granting clemency to those who have experienced grave injustices in our legal system, especially those due to disproportionate drug offenses,” the former president wrote.
In his letter, Carter recalled that although Lopez Rivera rejected clemency offered in 1999 by President Bill Clinton, his decision was based on the offer of release did not include two other companions.
Mr. López Rivera, who has spent 35 years in U.S. prisons after being convicted of seditious conspiracy because of his ties to the National Liberation Armed Forces (FALN), is the only one remaining in prison “from that era,” Carter wrote.
“In 2011, I urged the United Suites Parole Commission to reconsider its decision to deny parole to Mr. Lopez Rivera despite many prominent individuals calling for his release, including Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla, the Hispanic Caucus of the United States Congress, and the American Association of Jurists,” Carter added.
President Carter pointed out that the nationalists released in 1979 and the militants of the FALN and the Macheteros released by Clinton in 1999 “have proven to be productive, law-abiding members of society, residing in Puerto Rico and in the continental United States.”
Carter’s December 13 letter is made public at a time when President Obama has only 29 days left to decide whether to accept the petition for clemency presented by Lopez Rivera, who will turn 74 on January 6.
“You have an impressive track record in granting clemency to those who have experienced grave injustices in our legal system, especially those due to disproportionate drug offenses. I am respectfully suggesting that Mr. López Rivera’s case deserves your attention as well,” Carter appealed.