It comes a bit surprising that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is currently campaigning in Puerto Rico and not in the U.S., considering Hillary Clinton is clearly sweeping up the pursuit of the Democratic nomination by the numbers. However, it does make sense for Sanders to be holding rallies in San Juan, PR: he’s going hard for the Latino vote. To play into that vote even more, Sanders is demanding the release of Puerto Rican citizen Oscar López Rivera, an imprisoned and convicted terrorist.
Rivera was a founder of the FALN (Fuerza Armadas de Liberacion Nacional, Spanish for Armed Forces of National Liberation), a radical organization that was hellbent on achieving Puerto Rico independence in the 1980s by violent means. Rivera was arrested in 1981 and was convicted of trying to overthrow the U.S. government, conspiracy to destroy federal property, armed robbery, weapons violations and transportation of stolen property.
The FALN has claimed the killing of six people through their 114 bombings, but Sanders believes Rivera deserves freedom. “Oscar López Rivera is one of the longest-serving political prisoners in history — 34 years, longer than Nelson Mandela. I will pardon him [as president]” Sanders said to a wave of applause and cheering from the San Juan crowd.
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