After pressure from Bernie Sanders, Puerto Rican independence activist wins commutation
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been personally campaigning for the Rivera pardon.
Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican independence activist convicted 35 years ago of a conspiracy against the U.S. government, will be freed from prison after President Obama commuted his sentence. Although lower-profile than the pardon of Chelsea Manning, the U.S. soldier convicted of giving classified information to WikiLeaks, the Rivera pardon has another distinction — it was personally campaigned for by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
In May 2016, before the Democratic primary in Puerto Rico, Sanders drew attention to Lopez Rivera’s imprisonment. It didn’t rise to great prominence as an issue, and Hillary Clinton easily won the primary.
But from that point, Sanders was invested in the cause that had also attracted the support of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and “Hamilton” songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda. In October, Sanders recorded a video with his campaign group, Our Revolution, telling the president that “all over the world, in the United States and in Puerto Rico, thousands and thousands of people are demanding that” the “Vietnam War hero” Lopez Rivera be released from jail.