There was standing room only at The Blackbox Theater space at El Barrio’s Artspace PS 109 Monday evening, June 24, as Oscar López Rivera, former Puerto Rican political prisoner and Miguel Luciano, artist, conversed about a range of topics that included challenges and possibilities in post Maria Puerto Rico. The evening event followed the annual UN Decolonization Committee hearings, at which Oscar testified on the colonial status of Puerto Rico, as did other representatives of the independence movement.
HITN’s very own Gerson Borrero, interviewed Oscar outside the United Nations, and also later that afternoon, along with Miguel, at the artist’s latest public art installation, a series of large prints of Young Lords demonstrations by Hiram Maristany, at 111th and Lexington, the historic corner that was just re-named “Young Lords Way” in 2014, and the corner on which the “Peoples Church”, the church that was first taken over by the Young Lords in 1969 to provide free breakfast, clothing and other services to the community, is located.
The evening event was a wonderful back and forth dialogue with Luciano, who not only touched on topics relevant to Oscar’s 36-year incarceration, but also focused on questions the audience submitted via index cards before the event started. Questions such as: What made you happiest upon returning to Puerto Rico? What do you see as the biggest challenges in rebuilding Puerto Rico? What gives you hope?, completely engaged the audience, so much so, that there was an audible gasp when Miguel said, “and now for the last question…”. The evening ended with every audience member getting the opportunity to take a selfie with Oscar.