Champion boxers call for release of Puerto Rican political prisoner


Contingent for Oscar Lopez Rivera to join Puerto Rican Day Parade

José Pedraza (fourth from left on top) and team display “Oscar Lopez Rivera” banner for the Puerto Rican Day parade in New York
Photo: Nelson Ramirez

Miguel Cotto and Jose Pedraza are calling for the release of Puerto Rican Political Prisoner, Oscar López Rivera, lending their prestige as champion fighters hailing from Puerto Rico to the revolutionary who has toiled in U.S. prisons for 33 years.

Cotto, the “pride of Puerto Rico,” defended his Lightweight title six times before ascending to heavier weight classes. Cotto is fighting Middleweight Sergio Martinez at Madison Square Garden as the main card fight Sat. June 7. José “Sniper” Pedraza, super-featherweight champ, is fighting in the undercard this same night against Arturo Uruzquieta.

The two fighters are going to appear with “Free Oscar López Rivera” shirts in the ring at Madison Square Garden. Pedraza previously wore the shirt in a fight in Puerto Rico.

A growing number of supporters have joined the efforts to free Oscar López Rivera including City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, José Rivera and leaders of the community like Orlando Plaza (National Parade Board member), María Kercado (1199), Santos Crespo, (32BJ Union), Ramón Jiménez, Esq, and Fernando Láspinas.

Oscar López Rivera has been incarcerated for 33 years for participating in the movement for an independent Puerto Rico—charged with “Seditious Conspiracy”—the same charges that held Nelson Mandela in prison.

In 1999, Bill Clinton commuted the sentences of 16 members of the Fuerza Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), but López refused the deal as it excluded two fellow revolutionaries who have since been released.

The National Puerto Rican Parade is paying tribute to Oscar López Rivera and a contingent in support of his release will be marching in the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City on June 8. The June 1 Bronx march was also dedicated to Lopez Rivera.

“We are going to be marching down 5th Ave. with a 60″ long by 30″ wide Puerto Rican flag with members of his family on a float. I am participating to express my solidarity for this brother and because these charges are the same charges that were put Nelson Mandela to fighting against apartheid in South Africa,” said Nelson Ramirez, one of the pleneros performing as part of the contingent of hundreds.


Liberation News

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