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1999-09-08

Puerto Rican Political Prisoners Accept Clinton’s Clemency Offer

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Puerto Rican Political Prisoners Accept Clinton’s Clemency Offer

Twelve Puerto Rican political prisoners yesterday accepted a conditional clemency offer from President Clinton, after law enforcement agencies, Congressional Republicans and First Lady Hillary Clinton mounted pressure on the president to withdraw the offer.

Clinton offered clemency to 16 members of the Armed Forces of National Liberation, the Puerto Rican independence group known as the FALN, but two members are not expected to accept the offer. Under the terms of the agreement, the activists must renounce violence, refrain from meeting with other independence leaders and obey stringent guidelines barring them from using weapons.

None of the prisoners have been convicted of violent acts. But Congressional Republicans, law enforcement agencies and eventually Hillary Clinton turned violence it into a central issue when they expressed their opposition to the clemency offer, saying that the activists had not renounced violence.

The clemency offer has erupted into a political issue for the First Lady, who is an all but declared candidate for a Senate seat in New York, where there is a large Latino population.

Guest:

  • Michael Deutsch, Attorney in Chicago who represents several of the prisoners.

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