December 25, 1995 was the last time I spent Christmas with my family. Living behind those walls for more than ten years, I used to push the holidays so far away in the back of my mind because I could not be with the people I loved the most. This "holiday season" I am grateful to be right here, in their presence.
Everyone is buying presents, lights fill the neighborhoods where usually it is creepy at night, and the kids--my many nephews and neices and the children of my community--glow with joy at the prospect of love and genorosity to come. . . . A feeling we share as I embrace life as a free human being.
I approach these days of familial celebration and cultural ceremony with the warmth of a long burning fire in my heart. Being mindful of my brothers and sisters in the struggle--those who will not be able to spend these precious days with their families--I hug my mother and brothers and others a little tighter. . . . How many times did I refuse to pick up that prison telephone to avoid reminding them of my absence during the holidays? How many times did they try to make the best out of life, though their hearts were broken, while daydreaming of the day that, finally, now has come?
When the path becomes too hard to travel because of the terrible conditions, adversity, and darkness, I will cling to the same natural and divine forces that have guided me this far. Though I am now free--free from physical restraints though not yet from the false charges--my quest for justice and freedom continues. And I will never give up the struggle for social justice and community liberation.
I envision the best for everyone who has supported me throughout the years; my tears of joy are your triumph. Together we shall remain committed to the causes of love and liberty in our society. Together we shall move one another to act in the spirit of so many who gave themselves, often fully, and some would even charge "foolishly," to the betterment of life in the world.
May we continue to build bridges over the cracks of the broken hearted and crushed--
"Hasta la victoria siempre."
In faith and solidarity,