The Case of Oscar Lopez Rivera

Susler, Jan
Date Written:  2012-12-10
Publisher:  People's Law Office
Year Published:  2012
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20298

Examing the criminal case against and incarceration of Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican activist and organiser charged and convicted of seditious conspiracy in 1980.



In the 1960's and 70's, the Puerto Rican community in Chicago, like so many other communities in the United States, was rebelling, resisting the violence and brutality of colonialism, racism, and exploitation. Its young leaders sought not only to battle against and expose these evils, but to help the community take control of its institutions, to instill a sense of hope. It was a time when anti-colonial, national liberation movements had prevailed throughout the world and anti-imperialist movements were fighting for independence and self-determination. It was a time when young men - including Oscar - were being drafted to fight the Vietnamese people's war for liberation. It was a time when the Black Panther Party advocated armed self-defense, when police in Chicago assassinated the party's young leaders.


Since 1999, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has denied all media requests to interview Oscar, in spite of policy allowing for media interviews of prisoners, in spite of allowing media interviews of other prisoners, and in spite of having allowed Oscar to be interviewed many times previously, without incident. Each rejection has used the identical, unsubstantiated excuse that "the interview could jeopardize security and disturb the orderly running of the institution." This ban, preventing his voice from reaching his people and his community of supporters, harkens to bans imposed by other governments and regimes once regarded as anti-democratic.

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