July 6, 2012
Local coastguard rescues Kayaking man

A Puerto Rican man, attempting to kayak across the Caribbean Sea, is now thanking his lucky stars after being rescued by the local coastguard last Sunday.{{more}}

Alberto de Jesus Mercado (also known as Tito Kayak) began his journey in Venezuela on June 21 and is determined to continue his solo voyage, as soon as the weather permits, to the United States of America.

Tears sprung from Mercado’s eyes when he recalled the moment that the coastguard officers rescued him, after his kayak sprung a leak.

“I am grateful to the coastguard. They were three angels in the sea. I appreciate that!” he said.

LS Melita Browne, AB Josh Hamilton and AB Kemmy Ashton were the coast guard officers who came to Mercado’s rescue in his hour of need.

He also praised the Venezuelan ambassador Yoel Perez Marcano for extending his hospitality, and assisting him in his time of need.

Mercado said that his kayaking attempt is to raise awareness about the plight of 69-year-old Oscar Lopez Rivera, a political activist from Puerto Rico, who was jailed in the USA in the 1980s and remains there to this day.

He said that the kayak was symbolic of the journey his indigenous Indian ancestors made when they migrated from Venezuela to Puerto Rico.

Mercado, who belongs to activist group Amigos de M.A.R, said that he hopes the publicity will force the US government to grant Rivera a pardon and release him from prison.

“Nelson Mandela was in jail for eighteen years and he became the president of South Africa. Oscar has been in jail for [over] thirty years!” he pointed out.

Fifty-three-year-old Mercado said that he has been campaigning tirelessly for this cause and others like it. So much so that he has been arrested and imprisoned several times over the years, in several countries – including Trinidad and Tobago, when President Barack Obama visited in 2009 for a Summit of the Americas conference.

Mercado also said that being an activist makes it difficult for him to be with his wife and children, whom he misses dearly.

He said that he hopes to arrive in Florida by the end of August, travelling up the archipelago of Caribbean islands, and will venture on to Washington, DC from there.

Mercado is hopeful that Oscar Lopez Rivera will be released within a year, but said that he already has plans on further action if this does not happen. He further added that many people hate him because of his social activism, but that will not stop him from fighting for what he believes to be right.

Puerto Rican journalist Carlos Perez Figueroa is following Mercado’s journey, travelling by plane from island to island, alerting local media of the kayaking attempt.

Mercado’s journey may be followed online at