From Mailbag: Council Speaker Hopeful Never Used Bolivian Ties to Free NYC Citizen

melissa mark viveritoBrooklyn, NY – Brooklyn resident Jacob Ostreicher has been incarcerated for eighteen months in the notorious Palmasola prison in Bolivia on bogus charges trumped up by corrupt government officials. Once the corruption ring has been broken up more than year ago, Mr. Ostreicher has been released to house arrest. But Jacob is still under house containment in Bolivia victimized by the broken Bolivian Justice system, without ever being charged with a single crime.

Jacob’s plight has gained the attention of many elected officials here in the Unites States from all levels of Government from. It has reached the halls of congress in Washington D.C. where hearings have been held; the State Department has intervened and mentioned it in its 2012 report on Bolivia; it has even reached the Oval office with a petition that was signed by more than 50,000 people on the “We the People” section of whitehouse.gov.

But most startling of all is that New York City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito who according to the NY Post has a very close friendship with the Bolivian president, never attempted to intervene. She traveled to support Morales during an ultimately unsuccessful recall election in 2008. She flew to the South American nation to “observe” the vote of Morales “at invitation of government of Bolivia,” according to papers she filed with the Conflicts of Interest Board. Sean Penn, an award winning actor who has no relationship or obligation to Jacob Ostreicher, used every bit of influence with president Morales to try and free Mr. Ostreicher, but a New York City Council member, who was elected to represent the people of New York City, has kept her distance.

It’s highly unlikely that a purported active New York City Council member should not have heard of the Ostreicher case after the amount of international media coverage that the case has garnered. Considering the fact that she is in the running for Speaker of The New York Council, one would think she would have known about this and taken pro-active steps to help Mr. Ostreicher.

Mark-Viverito, Comptroller John Liu, and Councilman Robert Jackson praised Morales after he spoke at the American Indian Community House in Lower Manhattan. During the speech, Morales denounced an American “conspiracy” to interfere with his socialists agenda because the US had sought to reduce cocoa farming because it can be processed into cocaine. The three Americans responded by presenting him with a framed proclamation “recognizing his work on behalf of indigenous peoples’ rights,” according to local press reports.

But it does not appear that Mark-Viverito was available to help Mr. Ostreicher from NYC.

One would hope that if Mark-Viverito is seriously interested in the speakership of the New York City Council, she would appeal to President Morales to try and free Jacob Ostreicher, a fellow New York City resident whose primary residence is a mere few miles from the home of Ms. Mark-Viverito. The Councilwoman should display to people of this city her commitment to its citizens. She should show her ability to diplomatically solve tough problems and it will install confidence in people that she has what it takes to be the Speaker of the NYC Council.

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