Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera is free

oscar lopez rivera free

Puerto Rican freedom fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera has now officially been freed after more than three and a half decades behind bars in the United States prison system. In January 2017 Oscar was one of the 539 prisoners granted clemency by outgoing US President Obama and in February he was released from high security Terre Haute prison in Indiana and flown to Puerto Rico, where he then remained under house arrest for three months until he was finally able to walk free on 17 May.

In the 1970s Oscar was an active member of the Armed Forces for National Liberation, a communist organisation which fought for the independence of Puerto Rico from US occupation. Having been captured, in 1981 he went on trial for a range of offences, including ‘seditious conspiracy’, armed robbery and bomb-making. He did not deny any of the specific charges but instead declared himself a prisoner of war, demanding immunity from prosecution under the Geneva Convention and refusing to participate in most of the court proceedings, although he did address the court to close his own case, stating proudly: ‘Puerto Rico will be a free and socialist country.’

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US prising Jamaica out of PetroCaribe?

In July 2015, Jamaica dutifully repurchased a debt of $3bn from Venezuela. Jamaica borrowed $2bn on the international markets at interest rates of 6.75-7.875% (with a 10-year moratorium on payments, maturing in 2028 and 2045). Jamaica paid $1.5bn to Venezuela, who wrote-off the outstanding $1.5bn owed under a PetroCaribe accord, and boosted Jamaica’s reserves by $500m.

Venezuela’s PetroCaribe alliance, begun by Hugo Chavez in 2005, has supplied 18 neighbouring Caribbean and Central American countries with fuel and favourable terms for payment, such as low-interest rate loans, and invested in community projects for marginalised people including hospitals, schools, highways, and homeless shelters, as well as developing fuel supply and storage infrastructure. Unsurprisingly, it has been met with hostility from the US. Last January, Joe Biden referred to it as a ‘tool of coercion’, and Obama visited Jamaica in April to urge Jamaica and other members to leave the PetroCaribe Alliance in favour of his World Bank-funded investment plan, the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative.

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Quebec student stand firm against repression

Since February, Quebec students have been on strike against plans to restructure the higher education system of the province, which will see annual tuition increases of $325 in a five year period, representing an overall increase of 75%

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Quebec students resist education cuts – May 2012

Quebec students resist education cuts – May 2012On 22 May 2012, up to 500,000 people took to the streets of Montreal to mark 100 days of student strikes in the Canadian province of Quebec. The strikes are led by the radical student-union coalition CLASSE (La Coalition large de l'ASSÉ), involving up to 200,000 students in the province. There have been nightly demonstrations in Montreal and violent confrontations between students and the police. The determination of Quebec students to resist plans to restructure education has received support from airline workers whose jobs are under threat, with whom the students have also expressed solidarity. High school students have also taken part in the strike.

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