ICAP President Kenia Serrano with Puerto Rican activists. Photo: Karoly Emerson (ICAP)

“The legal and political battle for the release of Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar López Rivera is intensifying," affirmed José Juan Nazario de la Rosa, a member of the legal team working on the case.

He described as shameful the reality that a person has been imprisoned over more than 35 years for his political ideas and for dedicating his life to the sovereignty of his country, still a U.S. colony under the euphemistic label of a Free Associated State.

The attorney reported that during recent visits to see the patriot in prison, Oscar was in good spirits, despite his 70 years, concentrating on painting as a way to free his soul, and recognized for good behavior within the penitentiary.

The jurist recalled the difficult conditions imposed on the political prisoner, who has been subjected to long periods of solitary confinement, and had his communication with the outside world limited. Nonetheless, Oscar hasn't lost his smile, and often expresses his gratitude to solidarity groups within and beyond Puerto Rico who are fighting for his release.

"U.S. President Barack Obama has granted pardons to more than a thousand prisoners, sentenced in their majority to life in prison for drug related crimes. There is no reason why he shouldn't grant Oscar López a pardon, before he completes his term in office (January 20, 2017)," Nazario de la Rosa said.

Attorney José Juan Nazario de la Rosa called on the U.S. President to pardon Puerto Rican patriot Oscar López Rivera, who has been imprisoned for more than 35 years. Photo: Karoly Emerson (ICAP)

For this reason, over the coming days, events will increase and the international campaign demanding Oscar's freedom will be intensified, according to Kenia Serrano Puig, president of the Cuban Friendship Institute (ICAP), while calling on people of goodwill everywhere to speak out for an end to this injustice perpetuated by the United States.

Also a National Assembly deputy, Serrano noted, "A statement supporting the freedom of Oscar Lopez Rivera is circulating in the traditional and alternative press as well as the Internet, signed by celebrities, leaders of organizations and institutions, that anyone who likes can sign, and send to the White House."

The sentiment is unanimously supported by member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement, and has been echoed in numerous statements by the United Nations and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and in mobilizations of solidarity groups, who all note the irreproachable lifelong struggle of the Puerto Rican revolutionary.

She likewise spoke of plans to organize events on Oscar's upcoming birthday, January 6, to show support for his cause, family and people.

"Every day that goes by, we must continue to increase international pressure, and more so now that Barack Obama can use his executive prerogatives freely," without electoral pressures, she said, adding, "We are going to put an end to this unjust imprisonment and to do so we will work together. Oscar and his people can always count on the solidarity and support of Cuba."

Attorney Rafael Anglada López spoke with Granma International about the situation in Puerto Rico which, after more than 118 years as a U.S. colony, is facing a foreign debt of 72 billion dollars, without the ability to adopt its own measures to address the difficult economic and financial reality.

The Puerto Rican jurist commented that his country is run by a financial supervision board appointed by the U.S. government, which is mandating economic measures to pay the debt, causing cuts in basic services and increasing poverty among the most vulnerable sectors of the population.

Anglada referred to the many protests and mobilizations provoked by this situation, and acknowledged that hard times are coming, with much repression against the people who will be in the streets demanding their human and civil rights.

He stated that the struggle will continue for the freedom of political prisoners and that much work is being organized inside and beyond the country, with the support of international solidarity groups, and concluded saying, "We are very grateful for the Cuban Revolution."