Carlos Alberto Torres (born September 19, 1952) is a member of Puerto Rico’s independence movement. He was convicted and sentenced to 78 years in a U.S. federal prison for seditious conspiracy - conspiring to use force against the lawful authority of the United States over Puerto Rico. He served 30 years, being released on July 26, 2010.
Torres was linked to the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), which claimed responsibility for numerous bombings (which had led to six deaths), although Torres himself was not accused of participating in the bombings, or himself causing any deaths. He was released on 26 July 2010, after 30 years in prison. In the 1970s Torres was listed for three years as one of the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives during the 1970s.
According to the Committee Pro Human Rights of Puerto Rico, while in jail, Torres obtained a university degree, worked in the Department of Education, and became a painter and artesan.
Torres is among the longest-serving Puerto Rican political prisoner. The other Puerto Rican political prisoner with a long sentence was Oscar López Rivera, who has spent 32 years, 2 months, and 20 days behind bars. Several human rights organizations including the American Association of Jurists called for the release of Alberto Torres. Torres was not included in the President Bill Clinton’s 1999 clemency offer to others FALN members. President Clinton said he refused to commute Torres’ sentence because he “was identified as the leader of the group, and had made statements that he was involved in a revolution against the United States and that his actions had been legitimate.” Torres spent 30 years as a political prisoner and, had he not been paroled in May, 2010, he would have been jailed until 2024.
In January, 2009, Carlos Alberto Torres was scheduled for a parole hearing, after serving 29 years behind bars. On the eve of his hearing, prison authorities accused him and eight of his cellmates of possessing knives which the tenth cellmate had hidden in the light fixture of the cell. On July 28, the Parole board notified Carlos Alberto that they would postpone their decision for at least 90 days, pending resolution of the charges. Two days later, the prison disciplinary hearing officer held hearings on the weapons charges. Alberto’s defense consisted not merely of his statement denying possession. The tenth cellmate appeared as a witness, admitting that the knives were his, and his alone, and that Carlos Alberto and none of the other cellmates knew he had hidden the knives in the light fixture. The guilty party also provided a sworn statement to this effect. The disciplinary hearing officer nevertheless found them guilty of possessing the hidden weapons.
Torres was granted parole in May 2010, and released on July 26, 2010. Torres flew to his homeland island of Puerto Rico on 29 July to a hero’s welcome. An activity was organized at the Don Pedro Albizu Campos Park, located across the street from the Tenerías sector of Barrio Machuelo Abajo, Ponce, where Torres was born on September 1, 1952. This is the same place in Ponce where Pedro Albizu Campos, another independence advocate, was born.
Oscar Lopez Rivera who, like Torres, also went underground in 1976, was arrested in 1981. He was accused of treason and belonging to FALN. He served 12 years of a 70-year sentence in isolation. Nevertheless, he rejected Clinton’s offer of an early release and remains in prison. His projected release date is scheduled for June 26, 2023.
Carlos Alberto Torres estuvo 30 años injustamente encarcelado en prisiones norteamericanas por sus actividades en la lucha por la independencia de Puerto Rico.
Fue vinculado a las Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN) y acusado de “conspiración sediciosa para derrocar el gobierno de Estados Unidos en Puerto Rico por la fuerza”.
A un año de su excarcelación, Carlos habló con el Centro de Medios Independientes sobre los retos que enfrentó como emigrante, organizador comunitario, luchador clandestino y prisionero político desde el interior de los Estados Unidos.