Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Memorial Meeting Celebrates Lolita Lebron's Life

Memorial meeting celebrates Lolita Lebrón’s life

By New York
Published Nov 28, 2010 10:12 PM

People packed the lecture auditorium at Hunter College in New York on Nov. 20 to take part in a celebration of the life of Puerto Rican independence heroine Lolita Lebrón, who died earlier this year at the age of 90. Many Puerto Rican and other Latino and Latina activists who live in New York or nearby were present. Lebrón had spent part of her youth in the city. There were also representatives of U.S.-based organizations that support independence for Puerto Rico on the basis of self-determination.

There have always been pro-independence activities and organizations of Puerto Ricans in New York, which was reflected in the strong turnout for the meeting.

Lebrón’s defining action was her leadership role in an armed attack by a group of four Puerto Rican independence fighters from the Nationalist Party on the U.S. House of Representatives in 1954. The aim of the attack was to bring the issue of Puerto Rico’s colonial status before the world. Arrested and sentenced to prison, she then spent more than 25 years behind bars before being released in 1979. She continued her participation in the struggle until the end (see workers.org for a more complete history of her accomplishments).

The speakers included women political leaders who were close to Lolita Lebrón and whose lives were shaped by their relationship with or admiration for the independence leader. The overwhelming message from talks, poems, songs and images was that Lolita Lebrón will live on as long as there is one Puerto Rican — and perhaps one Cuban or one Venezuelan — who fights on for liberty and sovereignty against the imperialist colossus centered in Washington.

Representatives from the Cuban Mission to the United Nations and from the Venezuelan Consulate in New York also addressed the audience and expressed not only their appreciation for the life of Lolita Lebrón, but also their peoples’ solidarity with the liberation struggle in Puerto Rico, which they felt as their own struggle.

Among the speakers were Lebrón’s niece, Linda Alonso Lebrón, a member of the Secretariat of the Commission for Women’s Affairs in the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, and Dylcia Pagán, a former Puerto Rican political prisoner or “prisoner of war,” the preferred term for those freedom fighters who have been captured while defending their country.

A strong delegation from Workers World Party attended, many of whom had come from an afternoon demonstration in solidarity with another political prisoner, attorney Lynne Stewart. Ralph Poynter, Stewart’s life partner and also a former political prisoner, also attended the meeting for Lebrón.
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