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  • Lopez Rivera spoke Thursday from the U.S. city of Chicago.

    Lopez Rivera spoke Thursday from the U.S. city of Chicago. | Photo: EFE

"Please accept our fraternal congratulations on behalf of the party, government and people, who share the joy of your liberation," Castro said.

Cuban President Raul Castro congratulated Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar Lopez Rivera on Thursday for being a free man and invited him to visit the island as soon as possible.

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"Please accept our fraternal congratulations on behalf of the (Communist) Party, government and people, who share the joy of your liberation," Castro told Lopez Rivera in a message released by local media. The Cuban leader also told the Puerto Rican militant that he is eagerly awaited in the socialist island nation, where he can expect adoration and honors upon his arrival.

Lopez Rivera was freed from house arrest this Wednesday after being held at his San Juan home since February. The independence hero faced 36 years of incarceration for struggling against the colonial domination of Puerto Rico.

"History will not forget your steadfastness and loyalty to the cause of Puerto Rican independence, which is essential for Nuestra (Our) America," added the Cuban president.

The island's social organizations celebrated an event at the headquarters of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples, whose president, Fernando Gonzalez, was held in the same prison as Lopez Rivera in the United States for over four years.

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"We are very pleased that you have been released and we commit to continuing to fight alongside you for an independent Puerto Rico," Gonzalez said in a telephone conversation with Lopez Rivera during the celebration.

For his part, Lopez Rivera promised that he will visit Cuba next November to directly convey his gratitude to the Cubans who embraced for years the cause of his release.

Puerto Rico remains plagued by U.S.-imposed hardships that Lopez Rivera fought against before being jailed, namely economic and political hegemony. The subjugated country which is claimed as a U.S. territory was has been forced to payment US$73 billion debt to Wall Street usurers and vulture creditors through the imposition of austerity against the people.

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