Oscar Lopez Rivera, the Puerto Rican independence fighter finally freed from prison after 36 years in May, is heading to Cuba on Sunday to receive the Order of solidarity.
The award ceremony is due to take place Tuesday at the José Martí Memorial in Havana. Lopez Rivera will later visit the Santa Ifigenia cemetery, final resting place of Marti — the national hero of Cuba and an important figure in Latin American literature — alongside late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.
A day earlier, he will attend an event at the headquarters of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), having met the organization’s president while in Sochi, Russia for the World Festival of Youth and Students.
When Lopez Rivera was first released from prison in May of this year, he had talked of traveling to Cuba to thank the public for their support during the 36 years he spent behind bars.
In 1976, the former guerilla joined the clandestine fight for Puerto Rico's independence as a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN). In 1981, he was captured by the FBI and accused of "conspiracy" for his militancy in the FALN.
Leaders from around the world, as well as human rights organizations, had been demanding his release for decades. Lopez Rivera continues to speak out against the colonization of Puerto Rico by the United States.
At the World Festival of Youth and Students earlier this month, the lifelong activist remarked on the fact that Puerto Rico has been colonized by the United States for 119 years. "A government represented by Mr. Donald Trump only demonstrates where imperialism is today, what it intends to do, especially with Cuba and Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and all Latin American countries,” he said.