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Page 7
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Letter from a U.S. Gulag

By Oscar Lopez Rivera

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My warm and heartfelt greetings to everyone:

From this gulag I join you in spirit to commemorate the end of the end of the Vietnam War - a glorious moment for every freedom and justice person.

While it is important to enjoy and celebrate this commemorative moment, it is also crucial for all of us to keep a vigilant and critical attitude towards the U.S. government and its Vietnam policies. The same powers responsible for the war are currently wishing to return to Vietnam with basically the same interest, motives, and goals they had before and during the war. They seek to protect their interests and for the Pentagon to have a presence in Vietnam. History has taught all of us how nefarious those entities could be.

We should be concerned, because in recent days we have witnessed the response from the powers-that-be, including powerful political figures and the media, to Robert McNamara's condemnation of the U.S. war against Vietnam. The media have created a loop where only McNamara's contrition and Bill Clinton's vindication have had any play. Kept out of this loop are the millions of Vietnam's ecosystem. Also ignored are the victims of the war from Laos and Cambodia, where at this very moment people continue to face perils created by the war the U.S. brought to Vietnam and its neighbors.

While this loop might serve McNamara's interest and vindicate Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and Phil Gramm, who dodged the draft and remained politically viable, it is anathema to those of us who experienced first-hand the horrors of the war in Vietnam, but who had the courage to condemn it and to struggle against it at a very dear price.

In this gulag with me are Tom Manning and Ray Luc Levasseur (both VVAW members), who had the valor to use their experience from Vietnam against the greatest enemy of humanity. Although we come from different backgrounds and political/ideological formations, we share a common denominator - the horrors of Vietnam and a commitment to struggle for life against the perpetrators of such horrors.

I leave you with an embrace, asking you to remember that for those who dare struggle, victory is their reward.


En Resistencia y Lucha,

Oscar Lopez Rivera

P.O. Box 8500
Florence, CO 81226

Oscar Lopez Rivera was born in Puerto Rico in 1943 and moved to the U.S. with his family in the early 1950s. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam during 1965 and 1966, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. In 1967, he returned to work in the Puerto Rican community of Chicago. His identification with the movement for Puerto Rican independence eventually resulted in his arrest in 1981 for seditious conspiracy. He was sentenced to 55 years, and was sent to Leavenworth until 1987. In 1988, he was given an additional 15 years for conspiracy to escape, which resulted in his being sent to the maximum security prison in Marion, Illinois. In December of 1994, Oscar was moved to the new "supermax" prison in Florence, Colorado. His release date is 2021.

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