“While there exist challenges, there is life, and as a consequence, we can be creative even in the urns of hell!" - Oscar Lopez Rivera
“We don't see any American dream. We've experienced only the American nightmare.” - Malcolm X
The Puerto Rican/Boricua People have been engaged in an anti-colonial resistance and liberation struggle for over 500 years, first against the Spanish, and then (for the past nearly one-hundred-and-twenty-five-years) against the United States of America....
Captured and charged on Aug 11, 1981, political prisoner (and prisoner of war), Oscar Lopez Rivera spent 36 years in a US prison, charged with sedition ("conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch") for attempting to liberate his homeland, Puerto Rico from US colonialism. He was released by US President Barack Obama on May 17th, 2017.
Oscar Lopez Rivera, who was born on january 6, 1943 was/is the inspiration for Abrazos Army’s salseditious song, entitled The Ballad of Oscar Lopez Rivera, which we released when Oscar was finally freed. The track talks about Oscar's life growing up in Chicago, serving as a Soldier in the US military during the so called Vietnam war, going underground as a member of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (who were trying to liberate Puerto Rico and free Boricua minds through the use of armed action and agit-propaganda), and finally, his arrest and imprisonment, all in about four and a half minutes of lyrics and music.
While writing the words to the song, I thought a lot about the old saying "one mans terrorist is another mans revolutionary," and how very few know even very little about the Puerto Rican peoples anti-colonial struggle and next to nothing about the Puerto Rican peoples right to (according to the United Nations) "self determination" and their/our right to "freely determine political status and freely pursue economic, social and cultural development," or, as Bob Marley said, "every man gotta right to decide his own destiny." And that includes Puerto Ricans! Essentially we got a right to be FREE (and equal) as a people and as a (free) nation (which we currently ain't)! Or, as Oscar himself put it when he addressed the jurors in court back in the 1980’s:
“We will see papers and documents depicting us as terrorists, but not see or hear anything about the United States policy of genocide toward my country. … The government will present evidence showing some weapons. … But the United States government will not show you the arsenal of weapons that the FBI uses in my country to terrorize and intimidate us. They will show you some sticks of dynamite which do not even amount to 150 pounds. But the United States government will not show you a bomb with a payload of 500 pounds, or that hundreds of such bombs are used daily in the U.S. Navy’s bombing practice on the population of Vieques. … The United States government will not say that international organizations have determined that Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States and that, according to international law, they are committing a crime against my country. They will not tell you either that according to international law, when an anti-colonial fighter is captured, as we were, he or she has the status of prisoner of war and should be judged by a competent international body”
while singing (and writing) this little song, I hoped to give a bit of background (and hopefully a degree of understanding/empathy) as to what makes an Oscar Lopez Rivera (or a Nelson Mandela, Lolita Lebron, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Huey Newton, Filiberto Ojeda Rios) and many others who dare to dream and risk their freedom (and their very lives!) to free they gente (by (m)any means necessary)!
Currently, other long time anti-colonial/anti-oppression/anti-injustice/anti-racism/anti isms and scisms fighters for the cause of freedom, such as Leonard Peltier, Sundiata Acoli, Mumia Abu Jamal and Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (aka H. Rap Brown) still languish in US prisons (RIP to Russell 'Maroon' Shoatze who was recently released only to die shortly after), while others such as Assata Shakur and William Morales remain in exile, cast out of the countries of their birth.
Hopefully, after listening (and maybe dancing!) to this ballad, you will have a deeper understanding of anti-colonial/anti-imperial struggle and Puerto Rican/Indigenous resistance, and what the Puerto Rican/Boricua people have endured, resisted and risen above (and within) every day for centuries with no end in sight.
arm in arm with arms,