A short while ago, in your address to the crowd gathered in Johannesburg, you thanked South Africans for sharing Nelson Mandela with the rest of the world. Madiba, you called him—the name of his clan. Ubuntu, you said, referring to the sense of oneness with humanity that “the last great liberator of the 20th century” will forever represent. It is in that spirit of oneness that I address you as querido, meaning loved.
Just yesterday I began a letter with that same term: “Querido Oscar.” I wanted to remind you that he too belongs to a sort of clan and that we would very much appreciate the opportunity to share him with the rest of the world. You see, while most of us must turn to metaphor in order to begin to comprehend the totality of hardships endured by Nelson Mandela, Oscar López Rivera does not. And while many might have listened to your speech and wondered where in the world exactly are those men and women currently imprisoned for their political beliefs, we here know they're very close to your nation's heart.
Querido Obama, in your speech, you mentioned Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr in an eloquent effort to communicate to the world the importance of Mandela. I wonder, however, why you did not mention the names of the men and women sitting in prison today for making the same types of choices in their lives that you rightly celebrate in Mr. Mandela's life, after death. I understand that some of these names might be difficult to pronounce, insomuch as History has yet to really acquaint itself with them and thus, their official biographies are still too complex, conflictual and hard for a President to say in public with pride, gratitude and admiration. Specially if said President currently represents the nation of their incarceration.
But there is hope. Hope in the words and the names you did pronounce in your speech: Madiba, Ubuntu. Here's another: Querido. It is the word with which you should offer a pardon to Oscar López Rivera, in the spirit of oneness with Nelson Mandela. It is the one word that would make all the others you said today ring true.