Photo: Reuters

Puerto Rican activist, Oscar López Rivera, imprisoned in the United States for over 35 years for his efforts to secure his country’s independence, completed his sentence on May 17, and is now officially free, according to Telesur.

“My spirit, dignity, and honor are much more intact today than they were when I entered prison,” were the first words spoken by López Rivera to reporters following his release.

The Puerto Rican independence fighter was transferred to his country of origin, and placed under house arrest in his daughter Clarisa’s home, in the San Juan neighborhood of Santurce, after his 70 year prison sentence was commuted to end on May 17, in January of this year by former U.S. President Barack Obama.

López Rivera’s attorney Jan Susler stated that he is looking forward to reuniting with his old comrades.

The Puerto Rican independence fighter is scheduled to visit the U.S. city of Chicago, where he lived for 15 years before being imprisoned, and where the city’s Latino community will come out to welcome him on May 18.

Then he will return to Puerto Rico and the municipality of Sebastian on May 20, where he was born and lived until he was a teenager.

López Rivera is planning to travel to various countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela among others, in order to thank the people of these nations for their solidarity and efforts to secure his release. 

The activist was born on January 6, 1943 and was convicted of conspiracy by a U.S. court due to his links with the Puerto Rican Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), an organization which fought for the island’s independence, after it became a U.S. colony in 1898.

López Rivera spent 12 of his over 35 year prison sentence in solitary confinement, cut off from everyone including family members.