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Message from Oscar Lopez Rivera, Puerto Rican political prisoner on turning 70 years old this January:

On turning 70 years old, I celebrate and give thanks to life for all it’s given me and for all it’s taught me.

I celebrate and give thanks for it’s having taught me that life is about never-ending struggle, and that if I want to live, I must struggle, and struggle if I want to live.

I celebrate and give thanks for having experienced extreme material poverty and for daring to transcend it without envying or hating anyone. I celebrate and give thanks for having been exposed to experiencing in the flesh prejudice, discrimination and racism for being Puerto Rican, for my dark skin, for my size, for not knowing how to speak English, and even for speaking “broken” Spanish, so I could learn a gratifying lesson — that the only race is the human race, and that all of us human beings are fallible and imperfect.

I celebrate and give thanks for having been exposed to war, so that I could walk in the shadow of death, feel the death of others as if it were mine, and without being conscious of it, become a sower of death, devastation and destruction of a people that could be my own people.

I celebrate and give thanks for having been permitted to survive war and dare to seek another path, a new way of thinking, and to find sublime ideals and new goals.

I celebrate and give thanks for being obligated to learn to think critically, to submerge myself in my people to understand that their marginalization, invisibility and lack of voice were things I also suffered, and to appreciate and love my identity and not allow those who hold the reins of power to define me.

I celebrate and give thanks for being offered the opportunity to serve the most just and noble cause I know — the struggle for the independence and sovereignty of my Homeland and for a better and more just world.

I celebrate and give thanks for being permitted to serve this cause with much love and compassion for more than 4 decades. I celebrate and give thanks for being permitted to survive more than 3 decades in the gulags without deviating from my chosen path and with my spirit and will stronger than before going to prison.

I celebrate and give thanks for being a member of a precious and valiant immediate and extended family, for putting me at the side of those great human beings who are compañeros/as in the struggle, and for allowing me to have been born in beautiful Boriken/Puerto Rico — that piece of the planet that has become the garden of Eden of America and the world.

I celebrate and give thanks because I can still fill my heart with love and compassion every day.

Much love to all.

In resistance and struggle, Oscar López Rivera

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