Luis Rosa

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Luis Rosa is a Puerto Rican nationalist[1][2][3] and member of the FALN who received a sentence of 75 years for seditious conspiracy and related charges.[4] He was sentenced on 18 February 1981 and subsequently incarcerated in a U.S. federal prison. He was released early from prison after President Bill Clinton extended a clemency offer to him on 7 September 1999.[5]

Early years and personal life[edit]

Luis was born in Chicago in 1960. At the time of his arrest he was 19 years old and was a young father and university student. He was also an excellent baseball player, recruited by professional teams. At the University of Illinois he became involved in the student movement and was president of the Union for Puerto Rican Students. In the community he was particularly involved in the struggle against police brutality. Luis was involved in the campaign against police murders of unarmed Puerto Ricans which arose in response to the killings of Cruz and Osorio in Humboldt Park in 1977 by the Chicago police. He was an organizer for the Desfile del Pueblo Puertorriqueno and at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.[6]

Seditious conspiracy[edit]

Rosa and 11 other nationalists were arrested on 4 April 1980, in Evanston, Illinois. They had been linked to more than 100 bombings or attempted bombings since 1974 in their attempt to achieve independence for Puerto Rico.[7] At their trial proceedings, all of the arrested declared their status as prisoners of war, and refused to participate in the proceedings.[8][9]

None of the bombings of which they were convicted resulted in deaths or injuries.[10] Rosa was given a 75-year federal sentence for seditious conspiracy and other charges.[11] Among the other convicted Puerto Rican nationalists there were sentences of as long as 90 years in Federal prisons for offenses including sedition, possession of unregistered firearms, interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle, interference with interstate commerce by violence and interstate transportation of firearms with intent to commit a crime.[12] None of those granted clemency were convicted in any of the actual bombings. Rather, they had been convicted on a variety of charges ranging from bomb making and conspiracy to armed robbery and firearms violations.[13] They were all convicted for sedition, the act of attempting to overthrow the Government of the United States in Puerto Rico by force.[14][15]

In prison Luis continued to be involved in sports, as well as educational and cultural activities. "His spotless record did not prevented the state system from shuttling him mercilessly between maximum security prisons, or from one cell to another within a prison, or from limiting his access to educational and other programs available to other prisoners." [16]

Human rights violations[edit]

There were reports of human rights violations against the FALN prisoners. The prisoners were placed in prisons far from their families, some were sexually assaulted by prison personnel, some were denied adequate medical attention, and others were kept in isolated underground prison cells for no reason. Amnesty International and the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Administration of Justice both criticized the conditions. The conditions were found to be in violation of the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.[17] A federal judge also addressed his concerns in the case of Baraldine vs. Meese.

Political prisoner[edit]

At the time of their arrest Rosa and the others declared themselves to be combatants in an anti-colonial war against the United States to liberate Puerto Rico from U.S. domination and invoked prisoner of war status. They argued that the U.S. courts did not have jurisdiction to try them as criminals and petitioned for their cases to be handed over to an international court that would determine their status. The U.S. Government, however, did not recognize their request.[18][19]

The sentences received by Rosa and the other nationalist were judged to be "out of proportion to the nationalists' offenses." [20] According to Outstanding Book Award editors Andrés Torres and José Emiliano Velázquez, U.S. Government statistics showed the prisoners' sentences were "about six times longer" than sentences for murder offenses by the American population at large.[21][22]

For many years numerous national and international organizations criticized Rosa's incarceration categorizing it as political imprisonment.[23] Luis Rosa was released from prison on 10 September 1999[24] after President Bill Clinton extended him clemency.[25] Clinton cited Rev. Desmond Tutu and former President Jimmy Carter as having been influential on his decision to grant Rosa the clemency offer.[26][27] Cases involving the release of other Puerto Rican Nationalist prisoners have also been categorized as cases of political prisoners, with some [28][29][30][31] being more vocal than others.[32][33][34]

In criticizing President Clinton's decision to release the Puerto Rican prisoners, the conservative U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee also categorized Rosa as a "Puerto Rican Nationalist", echoing a recent Newsweek article.[35] In 2006, the United Nations called for the release of the remaining Puerto Rican political prisoners in United States prisons.[36]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership. Metropolitan University of Denver. Denver, Colorado. 13 June 2014.
  2. ^ 11 Puerto Rican nationalists freed from prison: Hearings in Congress next week on Clinton clemency offer. 10 September 1999. Retrieved 13 June 2014.
  3. ^ Puerto Rican nationalists accept clemency. USA Today. 7 September 1999. Page 5.
  4. ^ Puerto Rican nationalists accept clemency. USA Today. 7 September 1999. Page 5.
  5. ^ "12 Imprisoned Puerto Ricans Accept Clemency Conditions" John M. Broder. The New York Times 8 September 1999.
  6. ^ ProLIBERTAD. ProLIBERTAD Campaign for the Freedom of Puerto Rican Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War: Arm the Spirit 30 October 1995.
  7. ^ "12 Imprisoned Puerto Ricans Accept Clemency Conditions" by John M. Broder. The New York Times 8 September 1999
  8. ^ Prendergast, Alan. End of the Line. Denver Westword. 12 July 1995. Retrieved 21 November 2008.
  9. ^ The Puerto Rican movement: voices from the diaspora. Andrés Torres. Temple University Press. 1998. Page 147.
  10. ^ "12 Imprisoned Puerto Ricans Accept Clemency Conditions" by John M. Broder. The New York Times 8 September 1999.
  11. ^ United States Department of Justice. Office of the Pardon Attorney: Commutations of Sentences.
  12. ^ "12 Imprisoned Puerto Ricans Accept Clemency Conditions" by John M. Broder. The New York Times September 8, 1999
  13. ^ CNN. Eleven Puerto Rican Nationalists Freed from Prison. September 10, 1999.
  14. ^ Puerto Rican Inmate Has No Regrets For His Terrorist Actions. Charles J. Hanley. Seattle Times. 10 May 1998.]
  15. ^ United States Department of Justice. Office of the Pardon Attorney: Commutations of Sentences.
  16. ^ ProLIBERTAD. ProLIBERTAD Campaign for the Freedom of Puerto Rican Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War: Arm the Spirit 30 October 1995.
  17. ^ ProLIBERTAD. ProLIBERTAD Campaign for the Freedom of Puerto Rican Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War: Arm the Spirit 30 October 1995.
  18. ^ ProLIBERTAD. ProLIBERTAD Campaign for the Freedom of Puerto Rican Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War: Arm the Spirit 30 October 1995.
  19. ^ The Puerto Rican movement: voices from the diaspora. Andrés Torres. Temple University Press. 1998. Page 147.
  20. ^ "12 Imprisoned Puerto Ricans Accept Clemency Conditions" by John M. Broder. The New York Times. 8 September 1999.
  21. ^ The Puerto Rican Movement: Voices from the Diaspora. Andrés Torres and José Emiliano Velázquez. Page 149. Temple University Press. 1998. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  22. ^ The figures are based on Torres and Velazquez's documented average of 5.4 years' prison term received by those convicted of murder, and pitting this average against the average 65.4 years' prison term that the FALN prisoners received. See https://books.google.com/books?id=XKJtYNvKKrgC&pg=PA149 for further analysis and information.
  23. ^ Peoples Law Office. Puerto Rico.
  24. ^ Inmate Locator. Federal Bureau of Prisons. U.S. Department of Justice.
  25. ^ United States Department of Justice. Press Release. 11 August 1999.
  26. ^ CNN. FALN prisoners another step closer to freedom: Clinton condemned on Capitol Hill for clemency.. 9 September 1999.
  27. ^ Puerto Rican Nationalists Freed From Prison. Charles Babington. The Washington Post. 11 September 1999. Page A2.
  28. ^ United Nations General Assembly. Special Committee on Decolonization Approves Text Calling on United States to Expedite Puerto Rican Self-determination Process: Draft Resolution Urges Probe of Pro-Independence Leader’s Killing, Human Rights Abuses; Calls for Clean-up, Decontamination of Vieques. 12 June 2006.(GA/COL/3138/Rev.1*). Department of Public Information, News and Media Division, New York. Special Committee on Decolonization, 8th & 9th Meetings. (Issued on 13 June 2006.) The Approved Text reads, in part, "As in previous years, ...the Special Committee called on the President of the United States to release Puerto Rican political prisoners..." (page 1)
  29. ^ Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York. Guide to the Ruth M. Reynolds Papers: Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora. August 1991 and December 2003. Updated 2005. Archived 15 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Reviews Puerto Rico - U.S. relations, including cases of Puerto Rican political prisoners.
  30. ^ Vito Marcantonio, U.S. Congressman. In his 5 August 1939 speech before Congress titled Five Years of Tyranny. (Recorded in the Congressional Record. 14 August 1939.) Archived 12 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine. In the words of Congressman Marcantonio, "There is no place in America for political prisoners...When we ask ourselves, 'Can it happen here?' the Puerto Rican people can answer, 'It has happened in Puerto Rico.' as he spoke about the treatment of Puerto Rican Nationalist and U.S. prisoner Pedro Albizu Campos. Retrieved 28 August 2010.
  31. ^ "Puerto Rican community celebrates release of political prisoner" Archived 31 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Chicago Sun-Times. Report states, "Chicago's Puerto Rican community celebrates the release of political prisoner Carlos Alberto Torres..."
  32. ^ Fox News Network. "Puerto Rican Nationalist Sentenced to 7 Years for 1983 Wells Fargo Robbery in Conn." 26 May 2010.
  33. ^ "Carlos Alberto Torres, Puerto Rican Nationalist Imprisoned In Illinois For 30 Years, Returns Home To Puerto Rico" The Huffington Post 28 July 2010
  34. ^ "Lolita Lebrón, Puerto Rican Nationalist, Dies at 90" Douglas Martin. The New York Times. 3 August 2010.
  35. ^ U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee. Al Gore: Quick to Condemn "Arms-for-Hostages," but What About "Terrorists-for-Votes?" 21 September 1999. Archived 1 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  36. ^ United Nations General Assembly. Special Committee on Decolonization Approves Text Calling on United States to Expedite Puerto Rican Self-determination Process: Draft Resolution Urges Probe of Pro-Independence Leader’s Killing, Human Rights Abuses; Calls for Clean-up, Decontamination of Vieques. June 12, 2006.(GA/COL/3138/Rev.1*). Department of Public Information, News and Media Division, New York. Special Committee on Decolonization, 8th & 9th Meetings. (Issued on 13 June 2006.)