WBEZ | Puerto Rico http://www.wbez.org/tags/puerto-rico Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Police brutality in Puerto Rico and the Mideast peace process http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-07-22/police-brutality-puerto-rico-and-mideast-peace-process-108132 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP68352310109.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Shafqat Munir explains the significance of Ghulam Azam&#39;s conviction for war crimes and looks at what&#39;s next for Bangladesh. The ACLU&#39;s William Ramirez tells us about police brutality in Puerto Rico. Natan Sachs weighs in on what&#39;s needed for Mideast peace talks.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F102153321&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/police-brutality-in-puerto-rico-and-the-mideast-pe.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/police-brutality-in-puerto-rico-and-the-mideast-pe" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Police brutality in Puerto Rico and the Mideast peace process" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p></p> Mon, 22 Jul 2013 11:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-07-22/police-brutality-puerto-rico-and-mideast-peace-process-108132 Bioluminescent creatures keep predators at bay http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/bioluminescent-creatures-keep-predators-bay-107012 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bio%20bay%20youtube.jpg" title="The bioluminescent ripple effects of a splash in the Bio Bay. (YouTube/TobiasJHN)" /></div><p>When I was in my early 20s I traveled to Puerto Rico on vacation with some friends from high school. We sat on the beach and drank fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas, visited the colonial fort in old San Juan (a place that, with its rolling green meadows and stone turrets perched just above the ocean cliffs, looked to me like Narnia) and for several days we stayed in a rental in Vieques.</p><p>The diminutive island eight miles east of the mainland was for many years a U.S. naval base. Much of the heavily forested island was made into a wildlife preserve, which is now off-limits. But the rest of the island has retained a similar kind of rural, unspoiled beauty. There are white sand beaches and coral reefs, and even feral horses that trot around the pastel-colored houses. But Vieques&rsquo; most remarkable natural feature is its <a href="http://biobay.com/">Bioluminescent Bay</a>.</p><p>I went to the Bio Bay at night, on a bus that departed from the tiny town of Esperanza and wound its way east along the coast. It was perfectly dark when we arrived, and silent, except for the sound of insects and giggling tourists. Our tour guides produced canoes, and we filed in by twos and threes, paddling out to the center of the bay.</p><p>The water was black and glassy, but at the appointed time we jumped in to meet the creatures that give the Bio Bay its name. As we landed in the murk with one splash after another, the water around us flashed with a bright, milky blue glow, illuminating our limbs and reflecting up onto our faces. I swept my arm through the water and watched as it left a trail of blue stardust lit up behind it.</p><p>The Bio Bay, you see, is home to millions upon millions of tiny, one-celled microorganisms called dinoflagellates &ndash; in this case tiny marine plankton that are among the earth&rsquo;s many bioluminescent creatures. They produce their eerie light when they&rsquo;re disturbed, as they were when we decided to take a midnight swim in their home.</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s the <em>point </em>of that light?&rdquo; J. Woodland &ldquo;Woody&rdquo; Hastings asked at a recent Chicago lecture. The Harvard professor of Natural Sciences studies bioluminescence in creatures across the spectrum of life, from simple, one-celled bacteria to angler fish that swim in the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean and carry their light around with them.</p><p>Hastings said this is the question he&rsquo;s invariably asked at his talks. In the case of one such organism he&rsquo;s studied, a luminous mushroom found in the Brazilian rain forest, Hastings posited that the glow of the fungi attracts insects, which will eat the mushroom and help disperse its spores. But in the case of the plankton in the Bio Bay, my tour guide had another explanation: supposedly, he said, the glow was meant to act like <a href="http://siobiolum.ucsd.edu/dino_bl.html">a &ldquo;burglar alarm,&rdquo;</a> meant to attract a secondary predator that would threaten and scare away the primary predator bothering the dinoflagellates.</p><p>As my tour guide spoke, I felt a blindingly painful sting on my left calf. A jellyfish that I could not see &ndash; but which had clearly seen me &ndash; had wrapped its tentacle around my leg. I hauled myself out of the water and back into the boat, howling with pain. Nature at work!</p><p>In the audio above you can hear Hastings&rsquo; account of another mystical spot of bioluminescent water, this time in the Indian Ocean, known to generations of sailors as the &ldquo;milky sea.&rdquo; And, you can hear more about the spectrum of creatures that cause our waters to glow like a softly lit siren.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range"><em>Dynamic Range</em></a>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Woody Hastings spoke at an event presented by the Chicago Council on Science and Technology in February of 2013. Click</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/bioluminescence-living-lights-lights-living-106379"><em>here</em></a>&nbsp;<em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter</em><a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer">&nbsp;<em>@rsamer</em></a><em>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Sat, 04 May 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/bioluminescent-creatures-keep-predators-bay-107012 A 51st state? Puerto Rico approves U.S. statehood in non-binding vote http://www.wbez.org/news/51st-state-puerto-rico-approves-us-statehood-non-binding-vote-103720 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/puerto%20rico%20statehood%202.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px; " title="Puerto Rican voters celebrate in San Juan on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">A slim majority of Puerto Ricans Tuesday sought to change their ties with the United States and become the 51st U.S. state in a non-binding referendum that would require final approval from Congress.</div><p><br />The two-part referendum asked whether the island wanted to change its 114-year relationship with the United States. Nearly 54 percent, or 922,374 people, sought to change it, while 46 percent, or 786,749 people, favored the status quo. Ninety-six percent of 1,643 precincts were reporting as of early Wednesday.</p><p>The second question asked voters to choose from three options, with statehood by far the favorite, garnering 61 percent. Sovereign free association, which would have allowed for more autonomy, received 33 percent, while independence got 5 percent.</p><p>President Barack Obama earlier expressed support for the referendum and pledged to respect the will of the people in the event of a clear majority.</p><p>It is unclear whether U.S. Congress will debate the referendum results or if Obama will consider the results to be a clear enough majority.</p><p>Puerto Rico&#39;s resident commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, who has championed statehood, did not return calls for comment. He received 48 percent or 874,914 votes, while his opponent, Rafael Cox Alomar, received 47 percent or 855,732 votes with 96 percent of precincts reporting.</p><p>The island is currently a U.S. territory whose inhabitants are U.S. citizens but are prohibited from voting in presidential elections. Its resident commissioner in the U.S. House also has limited voting powers.</p><p>The future of the island&#39;s political status, however, also is dependent on who governs the island.</p><p>According to partial election results, pro-statehood Gov. Luis Fortuno was ousted by a razor thin margin by an opponent who supports the island&#39;s current political status.</p><p>With 96 percent of precincts reporting, challenger Alejandro Garcia Padilla with the Popular Democratic Party received 48 percent or 870,005 votes. Fortuno, a Republican and leader of the New Progressive Party, received 47 percent or 855,325 votes.</p><p>Fortuno has not issued comment, while Garcia celebrated what he called a victory.</p><p>&quot;I can assure you we have rescued Puerto Rico,&quot; Garcia said. &quot;This is a lesson to those who think that the well-being of Puerto Ricans should be subjected to ideologies.&quot;</p><p>Election results also pointed to a major upset for Jorge Santini, who has been mayor of the capital of San Juan for 12 years. His opponent, Carmen Yulin Cruz, received 71,736 votes compared with Santini&#39;s 66,945 votes with 96 percent of precincts reporting.</p><p>The island&#39;s elections commission said it would resume counting votes late Wednesday morning.</p></p> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 11:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/51st-state-puerto-rico-approves-us-statehood-non-binding-vote-103720 Chicago jazz drummer Frank Rosaly gets in touch with his Puerto Rican roots http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-06/chicago-jazz-drummer-frank-rosaly-gets-touch-his-puerto-rican-roots-99857 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS5850_frank_rosaly_photo_johncrawford1-scr.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><div class="mediaelement-audio"><br /><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1339001507-0" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Rosaly%20interview%20V3%20AP%20FINAL.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://frankrosaly.com">Frank Rosaly</a> is known around Chicago as a phenomenally talented and prolific jazz drummer &ndash;he plays in 26 different music ensembles. Rosaly is best known for playing and composing improvised or avant garde jazz music, with occasional forays into rock and other genres. But in his most recent musical research he&#39;s venturing into entirely new terrain &ndash; his Puerto Rican roots.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Rosaly&#39;s parents are both Puerto Rican, but he grew up in Phoenix, Ariz., where he says he was &quot;Americanized&quot; by his family. He&#39;d visit the island as a child but was shy about not speaking Spanish. When he was 11 his parents divorced and he began spending summers with his father in and around San Juan.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Rosaly&#39;s Puerto Rican explorations will be most fully on display this August, when he performs at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, with his new ensemble &iexcl;Todos de Pie!&nbsp;&ndash; part of the Made in Chicago jazz series.</p><p style="text-align: left;">You can catch a glimpse of these efforts every Tuesday night in June at <a href="http://whistlerchicago.com/">The Whistler </a>on Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square. Rosaly just this week kicked off a month-long residency in the Whistler&#39;s Relax Attack Jazz Series.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Rosaly&#39;s group Bootstrap - bassist Nathan McBride, whirlitzer Jim Baker and saxophonist Mars Williams - will play what he calls &quot;rebel music,&quot; or music that responds in some way to social and political situations. Some of the music will be early Puerto Rican salsa. But they&#39;ll also perform music by Bad Brains and others &ndash; it&#39;s sure to be an interesting mix.</p><p style="text-align: left;">For more on Rosaly&#39;s Puerto Rican roots, check out my interview above.</p><p style="text-align: left;"><em>Bootstrap, Whistler Relax Attack Jazz series Tuesdays at 10, 2421 N. Milwaukee Avenue.</em></p><p style="text-align: left;"><em>&iexcl;Todos de Pie!, August 23, Made in Chicago Jazz series. Millennium Park.</em></p></p> Wed, 06 Jun 2012 11:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-06/chicago-jazz-drummer-frank-rosaly-gets-touch-his-puerto-rican-roots-99857 Teachers union in Puerto Rico wants to keep charter schools out of the country http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-21/teachers-union-puerto-rico-wants-keep-charter-schools-out-country-94240 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-21/puertorico1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In 2008, teachers in Puerto Rico joined with students and parents in an island-wide, 10-day strike decrying the state of education. The shutdown was a historic one, as it's against the law in Puerto Rico for teachers to strike. Their demands included higher wages, more funding for schools, and smaller classroom size. The strike also called for a policy that would keep charter schools out of the country's public school system.&nbsp;</p><p>In response to the strike, Governor <span class="st">Luis Fortuño </span>decertified the <a href="http://www.fmprlucha.org/" target="_blank">Teachers Federation of Puetro Rico, </a>the largest teachers union in the country.&nbsp; Mercedes Martinez, a union representative,&nbsp; took part in the 2008 strike.&nbsp; She gives us an update on what's happened to public education since then.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 21 Nov 2011 17:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-21/teachers-union-puerto-rico-wants-keep-charter-schools-out-country-94240 Worldview 11.21.11 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-112111 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2011-november/2011-11-21/cholera1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Despite billions of dollars in private donations and government money, a staggering number of Haitians remain in tent camps. And a recent cholera epidemic – which has claimed 5,000 lives – has only made life worse. Nicole Phillips, an attorney with the <a href="http://ijdh.org/" target="_blank">Institute for Justice &amp; Democracy in Haiti</a>, explains why she and a group of lawyers are suing the United Nations for allegedly introducing cholera to the Haitian population. And, we talk with Mercedes Martinez, a union leader in Puerto Rico. In 2008, the Teachers Federation of Puerto Rico defied a no-strike ban and joined with students and parents to close schools for 10 days. The island-wide strike was over inadequate school funding, classroom size, low teacher wages, and the threat of privatization. When the strike ended, the governor decertified the union.&nbsp;We get on update on what’s happened since.</p></p> Mon, 21 Nov 2011 16:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-112111 Mural restoration heartens Puerto Ricans http://www.wbez.org/story/mural-restoration-heartens-puerto-ricans-92248 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-21/mural-2_WBEZ_Chip-Mitchell.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>One of the country’s oldest outdoor murals covers a storefront on Chicago’s Northwest Side. People who care about the 40-year-old painting are finishing a facelift. The mural restoration is doing more than brightening up a gritty stretch of North Avenue. It’s got Puerto Ricans in the Humboldt Park neighborhood talking about their heritage.</p><p>MITCHELL: A celebration of the restoration included music with roots in Puerto Rican slave plantations.&nbsp;José López of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center recalled the artists who painted the mural in 1971.</p><p>LOPEZ: Young Puerto Ricans from the street — people who were marginalized — decided to give us a legacy for our historical memory.</p><p>MITCHELL: The mural covers the side of 2423 W. North Ave. and includes portraits of nine Puerto Ricans who struggled for abolition and the island’s independence from Spain and, later, the United States. Three of them are on crosses. Those three all served long U.S. prison terms in the mid-20th century. The artists, led by Mario Galán, named the mural “La Crucifixión de Don Pedro Albizu Campos” after a Puerto Rican Nationalist Party founder. They put him on the biggest cross. López said the mural has special meaning in a part of Chicago where many Puerto Ricans can no longer afford to live.</p><p>LOPEZ: Gentrification means, many times, the writing away of people’s history.</p><p>MITCHELL: Restoring the mural took a decade. Neighborhood leader Eduardo Arocho attributes that to a developer who owned a vacant lot in front of the work.</p><p>AROCHO: His plans were to develop a three-story condo unit. We tried negotiating with him for several months, even at one point offering him several lots in exchange. And he refused and he just started to build the wall, covering the mural intentionally. And so that’s when we grabbed our picket signs and started to protest.</p><p>MITCHELL: The city finally won control of the lot and helped turn it into a small park to keep the mural visible.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: It’s remarkable that this mural has survived.</p><p>MITCHELL: John Pitman Weber is a professor at Elmhurst College in DuPage County. He has studied and created public art for more than four decades. And he provided consulting for this mural’s restoration, carried out by Humboldt Park artist John Vergara.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: Its content is unique, not only in Chicago but nationally.</p><p>MITCHELL: And aesthetics? Pitman Weber calls the mural formal and stark.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: Kind of Byzantine, in a way, quasi-naïve -- executed by some very, very young artists. The style possibly even adds clarity.</p><p>MITCHELL: Not all Puerto Ricans appreciate the artwork or the idea of the island breaking from the U.S. But when I ask the ones who walk by, most have strong attachments to the mural.</p><p>WOMAN 1: My mom used to go to St. Aloysius. My parents did and so...</p><p>MITCHELL: That’s a church right here.</p><p>WOMAN 1: It’s a church down the street. I used to go there when I was a little girl. And my mom would drive us to church and that’s how I knew we were getting close is when I’d see the mural almost every Sunday.</p><p>MAN 1: I see Don Pedro on the cross being crucified for what he believed in. Crucified the same way as Jesus!</p><p>WOMAN 2: I used to get up every morning and look at this mural.</p><p>MAN 2: I went to prison. I was 17 years old and I went to prison for 20 years. And, during those 20 years, when I used to think about home and I used to think about Humboldt Park, it was this mural that I used to think about.</p><p>MITCHELL: Why is that?</p><p>MAN 2: I remember when I was first looking at it, I think I was maybe 9 or 10 when I first noticed it, I didn’t know anything about Puerto Rican history. To me it was just a painting that was up there. I didn’t understand who was up there, what it was about. But when I went to prison I learned about my culture, I learned about who I was. I even got this guy on my arm. Two of these guys are on my arm.</p><p>MITCHELL: Tattoos.</p><p>MAN 2: Yeah, Pedro Albizu Campos on my right arm and I got Ramón Emeterio Betances on my left arm. And I think I can attribute that to this mural, man.</p><p>MITCHELL: The mural restoration will be complete with the addition of calligraphy this fall.</p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/mural-restoration-heartens-puerto-ricans-92248 Obama wants Puerto Rico trip to send a message http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-14/obama-wants-puerto-rico-trip-send-message-87814 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-14/Obama Puerto Rico_AP_Ramon Espinosa.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Barack Obama will become the first sitting president in 50 years to visit Puerto Rico when he arrives Tuesday in San Juan. But the trip also has a political component, including the message it sends to Latino voters on the mainland.</p><p>John F. Kennedy was the last president to visit Puerto Rico, making his stop while on the way to Venezuela and Colombia. Since then, Puerto Rico has been waiting — and waiting — for another president to drop in.</p><p>Obama did campaign in San Juan during the primaries in 2008. The welcome was less formal than a presidential visit, but the enthusiasm was obvious.</p><p>"We have great support here in Puerto Rico," Obama said. And he promised that day to come back as president.</p><p>Obama will be on the ground In San Juan for barely five hours. There will be an airport welcome ceremony where he will make remarks. Then it's off to the governor's mansion for meetings with Gov. Luis Fortuno. Elected the same year as Obama, he's a Republican who has more in common with the budget-cutting and tax-cutting Republicans in statehouses across the U.S. than with the president.</p><p>"What I aspire to do is make sure that we highlight the issues that affect the almost 4 million American citizens that reside here in Puerto Rico," he told NPR in an interview Monday.</p><p>"Certainly, the economy is the No. 1 issue here — as well as in the rest of the country — and I'll be raising that issue with the president and ways we can work together for job creation," Fortuno said.</p><p>Also on the agenda: The ever-present issue of Puerto Rico's status as a territory and the contstant talk of possible statehood. Obama has been neutral on that issue and no major announcements are expected as part of this trip. The president's day also includes a fundraiser sponsored by the Democratic National Committee.</p><p>But perhaps the biggest impact of the trip will be on the mainland U.S.A., where Puerto Rican Americans now outnumber the total population living in Puerto Rico by about 1 million. They represent about 10 percent of all Latino voters in the U.S. — a group which voted overwhelmingly for Obama over John McCain in 2008.</p><p>The trip is aimed at a key element of President Obama's base, said Felix Matos Rodriguez, a Latino studies scholar and the president of City University of New York's Hostos Community College.</p><p>"He's very aware that Puerto Ricans are an important component of the Latino population," Rodriguez said. "There are large numbers of Puerto Ricans in some key states, and connecting with folks on the island sends a signal — not just to the people on the island but to the Puerto Ricans here in the mainland U.S. — that the president cares about their issues."</p><p>And that's the connection the president hopes to start making with his presence on the island Tuesday. <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. <img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1308056537?&gn=Obama+Wants+Puerto+Rico+Trip+To+Send+A+Message&ev=event2&ch=1014&h1=Politics,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=137167120&c7=1014&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1014&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110614&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=3&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></div></p></p> Wed, 15 Jun 2011 00:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-14/obama-wants-puerto-rico-trip-send-message-87814 Parole hearing goes poorly for Puerto Rican nationalist http://www.wbez.org/story/alejandro-luis-molina/parole-hearing-goes-poorly-puerto-rican-nationalist <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Susler.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A parole hearing did not go well for a Chicagoan that Puerto Rican nationalists call a patriot. <br /><br />The prisoner, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/alejandro-luis-molina/puerto-rican-nationalist-argue-parole">Oscar López Rivera</a>, has served more than 29 years on a conviction of seditious conspiracy. Federal authorities accused him of leading a Puerto Rican independence group, the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), that set off dozens of bombs, many in Chicago.<br /><br />On Wednesday, a U.S. Parole Commission examiner visited a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., where López Rivera is serving his sentence. The examiner heard from the inmate and some victims of a deadly 1975 blast for which the FALN claimed responsibility.<br /><br />In the end, the examiner said he&rsquo;d recommend at least another 12 years for the prisoner, according to his attorney, Jan Susler of Chicago.<br /><br />&ldquo;It was shameful,&rdquo; Susler said on her way home from the prison. &ldquo;The Parole Commission had no business allowing these people to attend or to attempt to influence the decision.&rdquo;<br /><br />Susler points out that López Rivera was convicted of seditious conspiracy, not a particular attack. She claims he had nothing to do with the 1975 bombing.<br /><br />Johanna Markind, assistant general counsel for the commission, said the parole recommendation will go to an executive reviewer and, eventually, a four-member board that heads the commission. She said a final decision could take months.</p></p> Wed, 05 Jan 2011 22:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/alejandro-luis-molina/parole-hearing-goes-poorly-puerto-rican-nationalist Puerto Rican nationalist to argue for parole http://www.wbez.org/story/alejandro-luis-molina/puerto-rican-nationalist-argue-parole <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Oscar_Lopez_Rivera.gif" alt="" /><p><p>A former Chicagoan that some Puerto Ricans call a political prisoner will make his case to walk free. <br /><br />A U.S. Parole Commission examiner is set to hear arguments Wednesday morning from Oscar López Rivera at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., according to Johanna Markind, assistant general counsel for the commission.<br /><br />López Rivera, 67, is the last imprisoned Puerto Rican independence advocate among more than a dozen convicted in the 1980s of seditious conspiracy. Authorities accused him of leading the FALN, the Spanish acronym for Armed Forces of National Liberation.<br /><br />The group emerged in 1974 and claimed responsibility for dozens of bombings, mostly in the New York and Chicago areas. The assaults killed at least five people and injured more than 70 others.<br /><br />But authorities didn&rsquo;t charge the Puerto Ricans with killing or injuring anyone. So, according to López Rivera&rsquo;s supporters, it would be wrong to keep him locked up.<br /><br />&ldquo;You have murderers and rapists freed after 10 to 12 years,&rdquo; said Chicago activist Alejandro Luis Molina, a leader of a campaign urging parole. &ldquo;On the other hand, you have Oscar López Rivera, who was not convicted of shedding one drop of human blood, serving a 70-year sentence. And he&rsquo;s in his 30th year of incarceration.&rdquo;<br /><br />But some victims of FALN attacks want him to serve out the term. &ldquo;Oscar López is a sworn terrorist; unrepentant and dangerous,&rdquo; wrote Joseph F. Connor, whose father died in a 1975 bombing of a New York City tavern. &ldquo;He has done nothing to assist the U.S. government or its citizens to resolve unsolved FALN crimes.&rdquo;<br /><br />López Rivera was sentenced to 55 years after a 1981 conviction of seditious conspiracy, weapons violations and other charges. In 1988, he received an additional 15 years for conspiring to escape prison. His attorney, Jan Susler of Chicago, said this week the charge resulted from a sting operation.<br /><br />In 1999, President Clinton offered clemency to most of the imprisoned Puerto Ricans. López Rivera declined the offer, partly because it excluded his comrade Carlos Alberto Torres, said Susler, who represents both men.<br /><br />A campaign for Torres&rsquo;s parole led to his release from a downstate Illinois prison last July. After more than 30 years behind bars, Torres returned to a hero&rsquo;s homecoming in Chicago&rsquo;s Humboldt Park neighborhood before settling in Puerto Rico.<br /><br />López Rivera, a Vietnam veteran, turns 68 on Thursday. His Chicago relatives include a younger brother, José López, who directs the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, an influential Humboldt Park group. López Rivera would settle in Puerto Rico if he received parole, his supporters say.<br /><br />Markind said the case&rsquo;s examiner will also hear Wednesday from some victims of the bombings. Opponents of López Rivera&rsquo;s parole bid have &ldquo;inundated&rdquo; the commission with calls in recent days, she added.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Markind said, the commission has received more than three large boxes of letters urging parole.<br /><br />The commission, a Department of Justice unit based in Maryland, is led by a four-member board appointed by the president. Markind said it could take months for the commission to decide López&rsquo;s fate.</p></p> Wed, 05 Jan 2011 12:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/alejandro-luis-molina/puerto-rican-nationalist-argue-parole