The news broke unexpectedly on the morning of February 9. Social media was buzzing with rumors that Puerto Rico’s longest-serving political prisoner, Oscar López Rivera, would be landing in San Juan that very same day. Shortly thereafter, both El Nuevo Día and Noticel, two of Puerto Rico’s major news outlets, had published articles confirming that, indeed, López Rivera would be serving in his homeland the remainder of his sentence, commuted in January by Barack Obama during the then-U.S. president’s final days in office.
López Rivera was convicted of seditious conspiracy in 1981 over his links to the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (Armed Forces of National Liberation), a group that used violence to advocate for Puerto Rico’s independence from the U.S. He was never convicted of causing harm to anyone, but was nevertheless sentenced to 55 years in prison.