with other "convicted felons"--which of course means that they
cannot meet with each other! They cannot attend conferences or
gatherings where there would be other former prisoners. The U.S.
government has repeatedly imprisoned leading activists and fighters,
including many from the Puerto Rican liberation struggle for armed
acts, civil disobedience and draft resistance. Then this same
government pretends that the demand to "not with other
felons" is a small matter. It is (as the U.S. government knows well)
a demand that these leading representatives of Puerto Rican
independence withdraw from the struggle or face re-imprisonment.
It is a bitter irony that these Puerto Rican independentistas have
more freedom of speech and association inside prison now than they
would have outside prison under Clinton's conditions! Another
condition of parole is that the prisoners agree to meet with parole
officers for years. This too is a highly political matter it
is a demand that these fighters repeatedly and publicly acknowledge
the sovereignty of the U.S. federal government over themselves and
Puerto Rico. It is a federal demand that they commit a public act
of submission regularly for much of the rest of their lives.
This Clinton offer does not release all of the 15 political
prisoners who have spent so many years in jail. It would only
release 11 of the prisoners immediately (after they agreed to
the conditions): Edwin Cortés, Elizam Escobar, Ricardo Jiménez,
Adolfo Matos, Dylcia Pagán, Alberto Rodríguez, Alicia Rodríguez,
Ida Luz Rodríguez, Luis Rosa, Alejandrina Torres, Carmen Valentín.
The other four are treated differently: Juan Segarra Palmer
would still be forced to serve five years (even if he agreed
to the conditions.) Oscar López would still face 10 more years
in prison (since he has been accused by the federal authorities
of plotting to escape). And there is no offer of release at all
for Carlos Alberto Torres, who reportedly refused to
"renounce violence" at a previous parole hearing, or for
Antonio Camacho Negrón, who has already refused to acknowledge
the authority of U.S. parole officers. And finally, the
federal authorities have pointedly refused to allow the prisoners
the right to discuss this offer collectively. The prisoners are
not allowed to confer by phone. When their lawyer requested that
they be moved to the same facility to confer with each other
and their attorneys, the request was quickly denied.