As he placed a bouquet on Fidel Castro’s tomb in Santiago de Cuba, Puerto Rican independence leader, Oscar Lopez Rivera said “Fidel gives me the strength and inspiration he always has in our fight for Puerto Rican independence," adding, "I’ll follow his example until my last breath.”
Rivera also placed flowers on the graves of other Cuban revolutionaries, Jose Marti, Mariana Grajales and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes.
Lazaro Exposito Canto and Beatriz Johnson Urrutia, both from the Cuban Communist Party Central Committee gave Lopez Rivera the Santiago de Cuba’s regional flag made by the province’s People’s Power Assembly. Granma reported that Orlando Verges Martínez, director of the House of the Caribbean gave Lopez Rivera the mpaka horn, a symbol of resistance and struggle for Caribbean people and which will also be the official emblem of the 2018 Caribbean Festival.
During his visit to the cemetery, Lopez Rivera was accompanied by Fernando Gonzalez, president of the Institute of Friends of the Peoples and one of the Cuban Five, with whom Lopez Rivera shared a prison cell for four years while imprisoned in the United States. Clarisa Lopez, Rivera’s activist daughter and Puerto Rico’s mission representative in Cuba, Edwin Gonzalez, also joined the commemoration ceremony.
Lopez Rivera said, “We have to continue fighting” in reference to eliminating the U.S.-controlled Guantanamo Bay prison from Cuba. He said, “I think it’s possible to make a better world and to make Puerto Rico its own free country. One day will will shout from both countries — “Long live a free Cuba! Long live a free Puerto Rico!”
The independentista was a U.S. political prisoner for 36 when he was finally released in May. The U.S. government accused Lopez Rivera of “conspiracy” for his fight to gain Puerto Rican independence from the U.S. colonial rule.
Since his release in May, Lopez Rivera has visited various countries, with this being his first visit ever to Cuba. He also spoke at the World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi, Russia in October. There he told participants, “it is up to all, the young, to take this fight."