When the Puerto Rican delegation took the mic at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, they did more than cast their votes. In true Boricua spirit, they took their opportunity in the national spotlight to show up for their people, specifically calling for the freedom of political prisoner Oscar López Rivera.
Before Roberto Prats announced that delegates cast 23 votes for Sen. Bernie Sanders and 44 for now-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, he proudly reminded the audience that “the delegation of Puerto Rico [is] the only all-Latino delegation in this convention” and that his island is “la tierra de Sonia Sotomayor… Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ricky Martin, Jennifer López and many more!”
As the crowd erupted in cheers, the delegates held Puerto Rican flags – one the colors of the LGBT Rainbow bandera likely in honor of the many Boricuas killed in the June 12 tragedy at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, as well as a shirt that read, “Free Oscar López Rivera. 35 Years.”
López Rivera, a Puerto Rican nationalist who in 1981 was convicted of seditious conspiracy for seeking the independence of his country, is one of the longest-held political prisoners in the world. For decades, Puerto Ricans, who are not a monolithic group, have agreed that the freedom fighter, 73, must be freed.
Similar calls were made outside of the DNC, where Philadelphia Boricuas participated in a protest for the release of López Rivera.
Puerto Ricans, while U.S. citizens, can vote in the island’s primaries but not in the Nov. 7 presidential election. Watch a clip of Prats announcing Puerto Rico’s votes above.