René Pérez Addresses Puerto Rico Issues and Calls For Release of Oscar Lopez Rivera At Bernie Sanders Rally

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At St. Mary’s Park in South Bronx, René Pérez, aka Residente, introduced Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Before that, he delivered an impassioned speech about what Puerto Rico deserves.

“Tonight, I’m not here to talk about economic issues, because I’m not an economist,” he began. “I’m not here to talk about our right to free, quality education or our right to free and accessible health care… I could speak of the racial injustices that people are suffering in this country and in the rest of the world, and of the need for comprehensive immigration reform. All of these are serious issues in America, but today, I came to speak briefly about the history of Puerto Rico and a little bit about the history of Latin America and why I’m here tonight in support of Bernie Sanders.”

Residente jumped straight into the history of his native land, explaining that as a colony of the United States, the island has suffered many injustices. He said that doctors subjected Puerto Ricans to medical experiments, and that the island’s land didn’t fare better.

“From 1941 until 2003, on the island of Vieques, the United States Navy undertook a series of experiments on different biological and chemical weapons while using the island as a bombing range,” he said. “To this day, the land and people of Vieques have not fully recovered from this devastation. There’s a Puerto Rican, a political prisoner, who has been incarcerated for over 34 years – longer than Nelson Mandela. His name: Oscar Lopez Rivera, and he deserves to be free today.”

Then, Residente spoke out about the unfairness of the electoral system. Even though Puerto Ricans have served in the United States’ military, their votes do not count when it comes to the presidency – meaning that when it comes to the current economic crisis, they don’t get a say in what happens.

“We are currently living an unprecedented economic crisis and have the highest rates of poverty and unemployment of any other place in the U.S., yet the U.S. government does not even allow us to restructure our debt,” he said. “I support Bernie Sanders, because someone like Hillary Clinton does not deserve my vote.”

He ended with explaining his view that no self-respecting Latin American should vote for her because of the policies and people she has backed during her political career. Watch the entire speech here.