Supporters celebrate the release of Carlos Alberto Torres

From Capitalist media:

Just hours after being paroled from federal prison Monday, Carlos Alberto Torres waded through a joyous homecoming awash with Puerto Rican flags in Humboldt Park.

Once on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list, Torres was released after serving 30 years of a 78-year sentence for seditious conspiracy for his role with a violent Puerto Rican nationalist movement known as the FALN.

In a rally to celebrate his freedom at a Humboldt Park community center, Torres gently danced to the thumping of plastic buckets and the chants of about 500 supporters. He wore a black guayabera shirt and a scarf adorned with the word “patriota.”

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Many see Torres and the FALN as terrorists instead of patriots, but the 57-year-old former Chicago resident did not address the group’s history at Monday’s rally. Rather, he offered thanks to activists who pushed for his release.

“It’s my victory,” Torres told the crowd, “but it’s really your victory.”

The FALN, a Spanish acronym for Armed Forces of National Liberation, pressed for Puerto Rico’s independence with bombs and other violent acts, primarily in Chicago and New York, from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s. Their actions resulted in six deaths, authorities say.

Torres was not charged with any bombings, but was convicted for being part of the group. In pushing for parole, his supporters labeled him a “political prisoner” who had served an adequate sentence.

Over criticism from Mayor Richard Daley, 11 FALN prisoners were released in 1999 after President Bill Clinton offered them clemency.

In an article published in the op-ed section of the Los Angeles Times last year, Joseph Connor, the son of a man killed by an FALN blast in New York, called the early releases “a disrespectful affront to all Americans.”

Torres, who worked as a community organizer on Chicago’s Northwest Side during his youth, said he understood why some would still harbor ill feelings toward the FALN activists.

“That is the past, and the past cannot change. We can only impact the moment of the present and the future,” Torres said earlier Monday. “The people have a right to their opinions, and it is not my place to try to convince them one way or the other.”

The Boricua Human Rights Network said supporters are hoping to raise at least $15,000 to assist Torres on his scheduled return to Puerto Rico on Tuesday morning. Torres has few possessions beyond painting and ceramic supplies accumulated in prison.

Activists are now pushing for the release of the lone remaining FALN activist in prison, Oscar Lopez Rivera, brother of Jose Lopez, the well-known executive director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Humboldt Park.

Fighting back tears, Michelle Morales of the Boricua Human Rights Network told those at Monday’s rally: “Today we celebrate, but tomorrow we have to continue to fight.”

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