A Pardon for Peltier

Dear President Obama:

You have many important domestic and international and issues before you at the moment that require your time and attention, and the fate of a 71-year-old man in failing health who has been in prison on U.S. soil for more than 40 years for a crime that, by all credible accounts, he did not commit is probably not among your highest priorities.

But I am writing you as a United States citizen living overseas — as one voice currently among many thousands of people around the world — to ask you to make this imprisoned man’s life your priority before your term as president ends in just a few more months. I ask you to grant executive clemency to Leonard Peltier.

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American Dream, Chilean Nightmare

Pedro Pablo Barrientos came to the United States in 1990 to make a new start in life. Leaving his native country of Chile in South America and arriving in the U.S. southern state of Florida with little money and a broken marriage behind him, he managed to get a job in landscaping at first, then worked at a few restaurants and eventually ran his own pizza joint — a sure sign that you have made it in the USA.

His most recent job, as a restaurant cook, was one he had held for about a decade. He is retired now, and at age 67, he lives in Deltona, Florida and is still struggling financially. He manages to survive thanks to his social security welfare payments from the U.S. government.

“I came looking for the American dream like everyone else,” Barrientos reminisces today. “I was not running from anything.”

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