Oct. 13, 2016

The Campaign to Free Oscar López Rivera, National Boricua Human Rights Network

Dear President Obama,

We, the undersigned academics, professors, and researchers, call upon you to exercise your constitutional power of pardon and release Oscar López Rivera (87651-024, FCI Terre Haute).

As one of the Western hemisphere’s longest held political prisoners, Oscar López Rivera has served nearly 35 years in prison—12 in solitary confinement—for his commitment to the independence of Puerto Rico. With this letter, members of the academic community join the international clamor demanding an end to Oscar’s unjust, disproportionate, and politically motivated incarceration.

Oscar López Rivera was charged with seditious conspiracy,the same charge levied against one of your personal heroes, Nelson Mandela.

Oscar deserves commutation for many reasons. As he was not charged, let alone accused, of harming or killing anyone. His 70-year sentence is therefore disproportionate. At 73 years old, this decorated Vietnam veteran has spent almost half his life in prison. His co-defendants, released long ago, are productive members of society.

Support for his release is broad and growing in the United States, Puerto Rico, and throughout the world. It includes the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; five members of Congress; the governor of Puerto Rico; labor organizations, such as the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; the New York City Council; churches and religious leaders, such as the United Church of Christ in the U.S. and the Catholic Bishops of Puerto Rico; the United Nations Decolonization Committee; six presidents of Latin American nations, and four of your fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

We applaud your promise to commute more sentences and your expressed understanding that the constitutional power of pardon is the appropriate remedy for correcting the wrong of disproportionate sentences. We also support your recent commutations of the disproportionate sentences of people convicted of drug related offenses.

Given your recent use of your power of pardon and the increasingly fervent calls for Oscar’s release, we are at a loss to understand why you have not yet granted him clemency. As you are well aware, Presidents Truman, Carter and Clinton commuted the sentences of men and women in prison for their commitment to the independence of Puerto Rico. The integration of each of these individuals into Puerto Rico’s civil society has been seamless, thanks to vast community and familial support. This would be no different for Oscar.We urge you to grant him immediate release. His family and supporters await him with open arms.


Title and Department                                    
Institutional Affiliation
Dr. Frances Aparicio    Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and Director of the Latina and Latino Studies Program    Northwestern University
Dr. Bettina Aptheker    Distinguished Professor, Feminist Studies, UC Presidential Co-Chair, Feminist Critical Race & Ethnic Studies    University of California-Santa Cruz
Dr. Maren Aukerman    Assistant Professor in Graduate School of Education    Stanford University
Dr. Gianpaolo Baiocchi    Associate Professor of Individualized Studies and Sociology    New York University
Dr. Dan Berger    Assistant Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences    University of Washington-Bothell
Dr. Gustavo J. Bobonis    Associate Professor of Economics    University of Toronto
Dr. Yarimar Bonilla    Associate Professor in Department of Anthropology    Rutgers University
Dr. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva    Professor of Sociology    Duke University
Dr. Douglass Cassel    Professor of Law    Notre Dame Law School
Dr. Samuel Cruz    Assistant Professor of Church and Society    Union Theological Seminary, City of New York
Dr. Antonia Darder    Leavey Presidential Chair of Ethics and Moral Leadership    Loyola Marymount University
Dr. Arlene Dávila    Professor of Anthropology and Social and Cultural Analysis    New York University
Dr. Angela Davis    Distinguished Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness Department and Feminist Studies Department    University of California, Santa Cruz
Dr. Cedric de Leon    Associate Professor of Sociology    Providence College
Dr. Gina Dent    Associate Professor of Feminist Studies    University of California-Santa Cruz
Dr. Johanna Fernandez    Assistant Professor in the Department of Black and Latino Studies    City University of New York-Baruch College
Dr. Nilda Flores-Gonzalez    Associate Professor of Sociology and Latin American and Latino Studies    University of Illinois-Chicago
Dr. Diane Fujino    Professor of Asian American Studies    University of California, Santa Barbara
Dr. Julian Go    Professor of Sociology    Boston University
Dr. Van Gosse    Associate Professor and Chair of Department of History    Franklin & Marshall College
Dr. Deborah B. Gould    Associate Professor in Department of Sociology    University of California, Santa Cruz
Dr. Greg Grandin    Professor of History    New York University
Dr. James Green    Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Professor of Modern Latin American History and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and Director of the Brazil Initiative    Brown University
Dr. José Itzigsohn    Professor of Sociology    Brown University
Dr. Laura Ruth Johnson    Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment    Northern Illinois University
Dr. Gilbert Joseph    Farnam Professor of History and International Studies    Yale University
Dr. Jane A. Juffer    Distinguished Professor of History    Rutgers University
Dr. Mary Kay Vaughan    Professor of History, Emerita    University of Maryland-College Park
Dr. Rashid Khalidi    Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies    Columbia University
Dr. Peter Kuznick    Professor of History and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute    American University
Dr. Deepak Lamba-Nieves    Postdoctoral fellow, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs    Brown University
Dr. Marisol Lebron    Assistant Professor in American Studies    Dickinson College
Dr. Amanda Lewis    Associate Professor in Department of African American Studies and Department of Sociology    University of Illinois-Chicago
Dr. Linda Martin-Alcoff    Professor of Philosophy    Hunter College and the City University of New York Graduate Center
Dr. Edwin Meléndez    Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning    Hunter College, City University of New York
Prof. Matt Meyer    International Peace Research Association    United Nations ECOSOC Representative
Dr. Nadine Naber    Associate Professor in Gender and Women’s Studies Program and Asian American Studies Program    University of Illinois-Chicago
Dr. Amalia Pallares    Professor of Political Science and Latin American and Latino Studies and Director of the Latin American and Latino Studies Program    University of Illinois-Chicago
Dr. Imani Perry    Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies    Princeton University
Dr. Margaret Power    Illinois Institute of Technology    Department of Humanities
Dr. Barbara Ransby    Professor of History, African-American Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies    University of Illinois-Chicago
Dr. Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz    Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Latina/o Studies Program    Northwestern University
Dr. Jonathan Rosa    Assistant Professor in Graduate School of Education    Stanford University
Dr. Francisco A. Scarano    Professor of History    University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor    Assistant Professor in the Department of African American Studies    Princeton University
Dr. Heather Ann Thompson    Professor of History and Afroamerican and African Studies    University of Michigan
Dr. Angela Valenzuela    Professor in Educational Policy and Planning Program in the Department of Educational Administration    University of Texas-Austin
Dr. Barbara Weinstein    Professor of History    New York University
Dr. Deborah M. Weissman    Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law, School of Law    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dr. Cornell West    Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practices    Union Theological Seminary, City of New York
Dr. John Womack, Jr.    Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin American History and Economics, Emeritus    Harvard University
Paula Chakravartty    Associate Professor, Department of Media, Culture and Communication and the Gallatin School    New York University
Diana Grizbord    Assistant Professor of Sociology & Latin American and Caribbean Studies    University of Georgia
Ann Peterson-Kemp    Associate Professor Emerita & Affiliate Associate Professor, Information Sciences    University of Illinois; University of Washington
Dr. Maura I. Toro-Morn    Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies Program    Illinois State University
Daniel Aldana Cohen    Assistant Professor of Sociology    University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Michael Staudenmaier    Senior Lecturer of History    Aurora University
Dr. Brian Connor    Lecturer of Sociology    University of Maryland, College Park
Johana Londoño    Assistant Professor of Latina/o studies    University at Albany
Jennifer Jones    Assistant Professor of Sociology    University of Notre Dame
Edward D. Vargas    PostDoctoral Trainee    University of Wisconsin-Madison
Melissa F. Weiner    Associate Professor of Sociology    College of the Holy Cross
Alvaro Jarrin    Assistant Professor of Anthropology    College of the Holy Cross
Meghan Tinsley    PhD candidate, Dept of Sociology    Boston University
Peter Carlo    Adjunct Professor, Sociology and Anthropology    University of Puerto Rico
Juan G. Ramos    Assistant Professor of Spanish    College of the Holy Cross
Dr. Peter Klein    Assistant Professor of Sociology and Environmental and Urban Studies    Bard College
Rodolfo Aguilar    visiting Assisant Professor of American & Latin American/Latino Studies    Kennesaw State University
Ann Morning    Associate Professor of Sociology    New York University
Cynthia Duarte    Director Center for Equality and Justice    California Lutheran University
Dr. Madeline Troche-Rodriguez    Assistant Professor of Sociology    City Colleges of Chicago
Andy Clarno    Assistant Professor of Sociology and African American Studies    University of Illinois at chicago
Guadalupe Gomez    Associate Professor of Finance    Harvard Business School
Jill Hamberg    Visiting Professor of Urban Planning    Pratt Institute
Phyllis Sanfiorenzo    Artistic Director/Painter/Sculptor    Self employed

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