Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on September 8, 1999 · Page 49
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · Page 49

Chicago, Illinois
Issue Date:
Wednesday, September 8, 1999
Page 49
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Chicago Tribune, Wednesday, September 8, 1999 Section 1 9 FALN Continued from Page 1 Susler, said they still have a fer-t vent desire to see Puerto Rico a sovereign nation. Indeed, she said, that was one of the motivating factors for accepting the deal. itThey felt they could do more by being out on the street and integrating into society," Susler said. JiM'Prison has not dampened their rlove for their country," she said. v'They are political beings. . . . MTHey are like fish out of water. They want to jump back in the '.water and swim." .'Overjoyed, incredulous family 'members packed into a cramped oom in Susler's Wicker Park Office for the announcement, but rthey also expressed concern that 'their relatives will be unduly Harassed by the government once "they are released. n"Susler and colleague Michael '"Deutsch stressed they will fight to 'ensure the FBI and other law enforcement agencies do not target their clients. They have enlisted help from watchdog igroups, including the National Lawyers Guild and the Human 'Rights Commission of the Puerto Rican Bar Association. rTrom the outset, Susler and relatives of the prisoners have said they were unhappy with the con-editions set by the government. i.But on Tuesday she said the prisoners have agreed to abide by '-fliem. '' One of the conditions of clemency is that the prisoners will be released on parole and would not '"be allowed to associate with a anyone with a criminal record without permission from their parole officers. This even means ''not talking to each other, which "in some cases means relatives. '''""Sisters Lucy and Alicia Rodriguez grew up in Chicago and -were arrested in Evanston in 51980. They have been in a north-etn California jail for almost two i 'decades. w "I'm very happy they are combing home, but the conditions iworry me," their mother, Josefina, Csaid at Susler's office. "They are --Sisters, and I don't know if they iwill be able to come together. K.f'But whatever the problem is, I'm ready to deal with it. For 20 'years we have been dealing with vttlot of problems." 'I In addition, travel will be V Severely restricted and the former prisoners will be banned from 'associating with other independence leaders. "Responding to the agreement, IIiw SI (4 - i 1 7- Tribune photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo Marilan Perez Zarsadias (left) and Rev. Jose Torres hold hands Tuesday during a news conference in Chicago. Perez's brother, Luis Rosa, and Torres' wife, Alejandrina, will be freed. But not Torres' son Carlos. White House press secretary Joe Lockhart said, "The president expects all those who accept the conditional clemency grant to abide fully by its terms." Each of the FALN members was convicted during the early 1980s of seditious conspiracy and related charges. They received sentences ranging from 55 to 90 years. The 11 political prisoners who will be released soon are Edwin Cortes, Ricardo Jimenez, Dylcia Pagan, Lucy Rodriguez, Alicia Rodriguez, Carmen Valentin, Luis Rosa, Alejandrina Torres, Elizam Escobar, Alberto Rodriguez and Adolfo Matos. Juan Segarra Palmer will serve five more years in prison before he is granted conditional clemency. Two prisoners did not sign the agreement: Oscar L6pez Rivera has an additional 10 years remaining on his sentence; and Antonio Comacho Negr6n, who was paroled last year but returned to jail after violating the terms of his release. A 15th member of the group, Carlos Alberto Torres, was not offered clemency and will serve the remainder of a 70-year sentence. "I knew his decision when we spoke on the phone and I brought up the conditions. He said they were ridiculous and didn't want to discuss it," Oscar Lopez's sister, Zenaida, who owns a Humboldt Park bakery and cafe, said at the news conference Tuesday. "It's not that my brother is a violent person. He just feels accepting the offer would be like prison outside of prison. "But he respects with all his heart the decision made by the others. Of course I want him here, but when they write the story of Puerto Rico, he will be on every page of the book." Clinton's offer of clemency, made Aug. 11, instantly insulted and angered law enforcement groups who consider the Puerto Ricans terrorists. The clemency offer also caused divisions within the White House when Hillary Clinton, a potential candidate for a Senate seat from New York, urged her husband to rescind the proposal. President Clinton also came under fire from critics who said the offer was designed to help his wife collect votes among New York's 1.3 million Puerto Ricans. "It is a tragic day that terrorists may very soon again be allowed to walk America's streets," said Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.), who has become one of the leading Republican spokesmen on the issue. But supporters of the FALN members, including human rights advocates, church leaders and politicians, argued they were punished too severely in light of their crimes. None of them had prior convictions and none of them was convicted of murder or of causing physical injury. The FALN, the Spanish acronym for Armed Forces of National Liberation, took part in dozens of bombings on political and military targets in the U.S. between 1974 and 1983, including several Loop locations. It was responsible for six deaths and more than 100 injuries, according to authorities. Tribune staff writer Naftali Bendavid contributed to this report. kJpackardJ , . f,.. w. 'rsiynty,"s:' " !s,!teta . . ' . . .kpViVI1) -fW:' ' wJrM Matt" ;:i I ea J t - rmo Monitor Upgrade J z--i v. Only $100 More I I- i i ..:.:,!(. r i . :. ' . ' tlnkmt, jr-2Z X s w W" IT. mo HEWLETT V- ' " -' . 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Sa ma mall as Jawal 630-942-9670 HARLEMIRVING-4113 W Harlam Ava.. naxl to Ulta 3 706-457-9317 HILLSlDEanaVaakm 6 Rooaavalt formarty otaon Rug 706-493-1928 LANSING Torraoca 6 170th. bahmd Hootar s Rastaurant 708 474 7070 MCHENRY 1763 Richmond Road. Rt 31, across from Target 615-344-2149 MUNDELEIN-1476 Towntana (60) Rd Mundatatn Plaza 647-949-6060 NAPERVILLE-1219 E Ogdan Ava Ogdan 6 Mai By Kmart 630-955-0102 NILES -6337 W Qotf Road.Joat East of Toys R Us 647-966-0919 NORTH RIVERSIDE-1730 8 Hartam. by Bally Total Frtne&s 706-488-6430 OAK LAWN-S129 95th Straat. Next to Hollywood Video 7 OS -424-8404 ORLANO PARK-15040 S. LaGranga Rd.. Next to Waigraen a , 706-460-9600 PALATINE-1252 E Dundee Road. Next to Radio Shack 647-991-2130 6CHAUM8URQ-130W Golf Road, Next to Barnaby'a 647-682-3344 STREAMWOOD-2594 W Schaumburg Rd.. on Barrirvgton by Big K-Mart B47-490-1634 SKOKIE 53fi9 Touhy Avenue. Touhy 6 Nilas Canter Road . 847-679-6434 VILLA PARKLOMBARD-1206 E Rooaavalt Rd . 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