Oscar Lopez Rivera, the Puerto Rican independence fighter freed from prison last year, has arrived in Venezuela to pay homage to the legacy of revolutionary leader Hugo Chavez, who died five years ago.
Rivera is visiting the National Pantheon in Caracas to pay tribute to national hero and liberator Simon Bolivar before attending several events marking five years since Chavez died after a heart attack and prolonged battle with colon cancer.
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza posted on Twitter on Saturday that Rivera is an "example of perseverance and anti-imperialist resistance."
Rivera was received at the Foreign Ministry by Vice-President of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) Tania Daaz, and Vice Minister of International Communication William Castillo.
On March 5, he will take part in 'We Are Venezuela' day at the Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex in Caracas, along with international delegations promoting peace and national dialogue.
Lopez was born in Puerto Rico in 1943. Returning to Chicago after serving in the Vietnam War, he joined the struggle for Puerto Rican rights.
In 1976, he joined the clandestine fight for independence as a member of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN). In 1981, he was captured by the FBI and accused of "conspiracy."
Lopez immediately proclaimed himself a prisoner of war, protected by the first protocol of the Geneva Convention of 1949, reasoning that it protected him from prosecution because he had been arrested in a conflict against colonial occupation.
The United States, however, refused to recognize Lopez' claim and sentenced him to 55 years in prison. After a failed escape attempt, his sentence was increased to 70 years, 12 of which Lopez spent in solitary confinement.
In January 2017, outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama commuted Lopez' sentence and he was finally freed in May 2017.