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List of people granted executive clemency by Barack Obama

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

By the end of his second and final term on January 20, 2017, United States President Barack Obama had exercised his constitutional power to grant the executive clemency—that is, "pardon, commutation of sentence, remission of fine or restitution, and reprieve"[1]—to 1,927 individuals convicted of federal crimes. Of the acts of clemency, 1,715 were commutations (including 504 life sentences) and 212 were pardons.[2] Most individuals granted executive clemency by Obama had been convicted on drug charges,[3] and had received lengthy and sometimes mandatory sentences at the height of the war on drugs.[4]

Obama holds the record for the largest single-day use of the clemency power, granting 330 commutations on January 19, 2017, his last full day in office.[5][6] He also issued more commutations than the past 13 presidents combined.[2][7]

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Transcription

An armed insurrectionist, teamster with (perhaps) ties to the mafia, socialite turned terrorist, presidential sibling and even a former President of the United States have all received either a presidential pardon or commutation of their sentence. A tradition far older than any modern republic, with various emperors and monarchs having similar power seemingly as long as there have been emperors and monarchs, the power of the United States President to grant clemency traces its more direct lineage to a time when the Anglo-Saxons ruled England. Originally residing with the king, the first written record of such pardoning power among these Anglo-Saxon rulers is found in Section 6 of the king's statutes, during the reign of King Ine (668-725 AD), where it identified that the king had the power to either kill, or not, anyone who got into a fight in his castle.[i] By the time of the Norman Conquest (1066AD), the king's pardoning power, codified in the Codes of William the Conqueror (1066-1087 AD), had expanded to include thievery as well as sedition. William's son, Henry I (1100-1135 AD) broadened the power even further in Leges Henrici Primi to include breach of the peace, killing of servants, contempt of writs and outlawry.[ii] This power continued to expand and remained with the monarch, or executive, in England even through the establishment of the British colonies in America and then the Revolution. And, as the Founders turned to British law in crafting the Constitution, they included the power to pardon in Article II Section 2, to wit: “The President . . . shall have the power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” As with the rest of the Constitution, when it came time to interpreting its sparse language on the power to reprieve, the country turned to the judiciary and the Supreme Court. Early on, in United States v. Wilson, 32 U.S. (7 Pet.) 150, 159-60 (1833), Chief Justice Marshall held that the presidential pardoning power was nearly as broad as that of the English monarchs: “The Constitution gives to the President . .. the power to grant reprieves and pardons. As this power has been exercised, from time immemorial, by the executive of that nation whose language is our language, and to whose judicial institutions ours bear a close resemblance; we adopt their principles respecting the operation and effect of a pardon. . . .” And while many jurists have found this interpretation appropriate, others were disturbed by the idea of bestowing upon an American President the broad powers of an English king. As Justice McClean wrote in dissent in Ex parte Wells, 59 U.S. (18 Hos.) 307, 311 (1855), he had doubts that it was "safe for a republican chief magistrate . . . to be influenced by the . . power of the British sovereign." Likewise, Chief Justice Taney, in Fleming v. Page, 50 U.S. 603, 618 (1850), while acknowledging the United States' heavy dependence on English jurisprudence generally, questioned the prudence of relying on it when determining "the distribution of political power between the great departments of government, there is such a wide difference between . . . the President . . . and the English crown." In any event, the power has always been, and remains today, a broad one, and Constitutional scholars have identified at least three purposes for it: (1) "to temper justice with mercy," (2) to better execute public policy, such as "to obtain testimony of accomplices;" and (3) as Alexander Hamilton put it in The Federalist No. 74, to ensure peace "in seasons of insurrection or rebellion." And, accordingly, over the years, presidents have continuously used the pardon, usually for one of these purposes. For example, both George Washington (16 clemencies) and John Adams (21 clemencies) pardoned people convicted of treason or other crimes during the Whiskey Rebellion. Thomas Jefferson (119) pardoned a person convicted of sedition for his criticism of the federal government, and James Madison (196) pardoned the Governor of Michigan Territory, who had been sentenced to death for surrendering Fort Detroit. Other notable clemency include President Buchanan (150) pardoning Brigham Young and other Mormons in 1858 for their role in the Utah War (which, among other things, included a massacre of 100 civilians on a wagon train to California). Likewise, the 20th century also saw a number high profile clemencies. In 1971 President Nixon (926) commuted Jimmy Hoffa's sentences for jury tampering and mail fraud. Then shortly after, in 1974, President Ford (409) controversially turned around and pardoned former President Richard Nixon, even though he had yet to be officially charged with a crime. President Ford also restored Confederate General Robert E. Lee's citizenship rights (posthumously obviously) and offered conditional amnesty to over 50,000 men who had illegally avoided the Vietnam War draft. Patty Hearst, the kidnapped socialite turned Symbionese Liberation Army terrorist had her sentence commuted by President Carter (566) in 1979 and received a full pardon from President Clinton (459) in 2001. As you can imagine, not everyone is pleased with every clemency, and often the president's motives for granting a pardon or commuting a sentence are called into question; for example, when Nixon commuted Hoffa's sentence, many thought it was done in exchange for the union vote in 1972. Other infamous clemencies include two pardons granted by President Clinton: to his friend Marc Rich (for tax evasion and illegal trading) and his own brother Roger Clinton, Jr. (for cocaine possession). Similarly, President G.W. Bush's (200) commutation of the sentence of his Vice-President's aide, Scooter Libby, for perjury and lying to the FBI relating to the leak of the identity of a CIA operative, was strongly condemned by members of the opposite political party. Regardless, clemency marches on, and by the end of his second term, President Obama (1,927) had commuted the sentences of more than 1,700 individuals, the majority of which remained in jail or prison for nonviolent drug crimes, often with sentences far harsher than someone would get for committing the same crime today thanks to the peak of the so-called “war on drugs”. Or, in some cases, individuals who by the law of the land in 2017 wouldn't have been considered to have committed a crime at all. Bonus Fact: Speaking of pardons, starting sometime around the late 18th century, they came up with a rather novel way for someone to get a pardon for a death sentence in a certain part of the Ottoman Empire. At the time, numerous executions, whether they involved commoners or the Sultan’s own family, took place in the Topkapi palace in modern day Istanbul. Criminals to be executed on palace grounds were only made aware of their fate on the day they were meant to be executed via means of a sweetened drink made with sherbet. The accused would customarily be presented with this drink three days after appearing in court. The colour of the drink would be indicative of the court’s decision. As Professor Godfrey Goodwin of Bogazici University noted, "If it were white, he sighed with relief, but if it were red, he was in despair, because red was the colour of death." Despite the vast number of executions that took place in the Sultan’s palace (for reference, during the brief eight year, sixteenth century reign of Sultan Selim I alone, he is estimated to have had over 30,000 people executed there), there was no official “executioner” tasked with this seemingly never-ending job. Instead, the job of carrying out these executions usually fell to one of the palace’s so-called "gardeners", except when the person was of extremely high standing, in which case the execution would be carried out by the palace’s bostancı basha, which roughly translates to “head gardener”. While you might think the name for these workers simply came from that they were tasked with pruning off individuals who had been deemed unfit to be members of that society, they also were charged with literal gardening in maintaining the gardens and grounds of the palace. Beyond this, they variously functioned as bodyguards, police, and security for the palace as the need arose, with several thousand "gardeners" on staff at any given time. Now to the race. While most who were given the red sherbet would simply be killed shortly after by a gardener, particularly high ranking officials, such as Grand Viziers, still had a little hope. The head gardener was honour-bound to challenge these individuals to a foot race through the gardens to the place of execution near the Fish Market Gate on the southern side of the palace- a distance of around 300 metres. If the person was able to finish the dash before the head gardener, their sentence would be reduced from death to simple banishment. As far as historians can tell from the known documented instances of this, very few people ever managed to defeat the bostancı basha in the race. This is perhaps not surprising as the race was heavily stacked in the executioner's favour, considering he knew the palace grounds inside out and was more often than not in fantastic shape relative to the victim. All condemned who lost were immediately strangled upon reaching the gate. For those exceptional few who did manage to defeat the head gardener, sometimes things worked out even better than simply being banished. For instance, the last known condemned individual to win this deadly race was Grand Vizier Hacı Salih Pasha in 1822. Partially due to the respect he gained for his reportedly "impressive" and unexpected victory, he was later pardoned and made governor general in Damascus. It isn't clear how this racing tradition got started, though one can speculate it perhaps was inspired by condemned individuals, or maybe even a specific individual, with nothing left to lose anyway attempting such a flight out of the palace once they received the red sherbet, and everyone just thinking this was highly entertaining from there. Whatever the case, the race was first reported in the late eighteenth century with evidence, such as the case of Hacı Salih Pasha, suggesting it lasted at least two decades into the nineteenth century.

Contents

Constitutional provision

The pardon powers of the President are outlined in Article Two of the United States Constitution (Section 2, Clause 1), which provides:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

Definitions

  • A pardon is an executive order granting clemency for a conviction, it may be granted "at any point after the ... commission" of the crime.[8] As per Justice Department regulations, convicted persons may only apply five or more years after their sentence has been completed.[9] However, the President's power to pardon is not restricted by any temporal constraints except that the crime must have been committed. Its practical effect is the restoration of civil rights and statutory disabilities (i.e., firearm rights, occupational licensing) associated with a past criminal conviction.[9] In rarer cases, such as the pardon of Richard Nixon, a pardon can also halt criminal proceedings and prevent an indictment.
  • A commutation is the mitigation of the sentence of someone currently serving a sentence for a crime pursuant to a conviction, without vacating the conviction itself.[9]

Pardons and commutations

This is a partial list of people pardoned or granted clemency by a United States president, ordered by date of pardon or commutation. For an updated list, see U.S. Department of Justice.[10]

Pardons

December 3, 2010

Name Court or Home City Sentencing Date Sentence Offense
James Bernard Banks United States District Court for the District of Utah 1972 2 years' probation Illegal possession of government property
Russell James Dixon United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia 1960 2 years' probation Liquor law violation
Laurens Dorsey United States District Court for the District of New Jersey 1998 5 years' probation; $71,000 restitution Conspiracy to defraud by making false statements to the Food and Drug Administration
Ronald Lee Foster United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina 1963 Probation; $20 fine Mutilation of coins
Timothy James Gallagher United States District Court for the District of Arizona 1982 3 years' probation Cocaine possession and conspiracy to distribute
Roxane Kay Hettinger United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa 1986 30 days in jail; 3 years' probation Conspiracy to distribute cocaine
Edgar Leopold Kranz Jr. General court-martial convened at Hickam Air Force Base 1994 24 months' confinement; reduction in pay Cocaine use, adultery and bouncing checks
Floretta Leavy United States District Court for the District of Kansas 1984 366 days in prison; 3 years' probation Drug offenses
Scoey Lathaniel Morris United States District Court for the Western District of Texas 1991 3 years' probation; $1,200 fine Counterfeiting offense.

May 20, 2011

Name Court or Home City Sentencing Date Sentence Offense
Randy Eugene Dyer United States District Court for the Western District of Washington 1975 5 years in prison Conspiracy to import marijuana (hashish), conspiracy to remove baggage from the custody and control of the U.S. Customs Service and convey false information concerning an attempt to damage a civil aircraft
Danny Alonzo Levitz United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana 1980 2 years of probation, $400 fine Conspiracy
Michael Ray Neal United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia 1991 6 months in prison, 3 years of supervised release conditioned on 6 months of home confinement, $2,500 fine Manufacture, assembly, modification and distribution of equipment for unauthorized decryption of satellite cable programming
Edwin Alan North United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana 1980 6 months of unsupervised probation Transfer of a firearm without payment of transfer tax
Allen Edward Peratt United States District Court for the District of South Dakota 1990 30 months in prison, 5 years of supervised release Conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine
Christine Marie Rossiter United States District Court for the District of Nebraska 1992 3 years of probation conditioned on performance of 500 hours of community service Conspiracy to distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana
Patricia Ann Weinzatl United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin 2001 3 years of probation, $5,000 fine Structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements
Bobby Gerald Wilson United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia 1985 3½ months in prison, 5 years of probation conditioned on performance of 300 hours of community service, $400 fine Aiding and abetting the possession and sale of illegal American alligator hides (Lacey Act)

November 21, 2011

Name Court or Home City Sentencing Date Sentence Offense
Lesley Claywood Berry Jr. United States District Court for the District of Minnesota 1988 3 years in prison Conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute marijuana
Bobby Jackson United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama 1987 5 years' probation and $20,000 fine Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 pounds of marijuana
Ricky Dale Collett United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky 2002 1 year of probation conditioned on 60 days of home detention Aiding and abetting in the manufacture of 61 marijuana plants
Martin Kaprelian United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois 1984 9 years in prison, 5 years of probation Conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce, transporting stolen property, concealing stolen property
Thomas Paul Ledford United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee 1995 1 year of probation conditioned on performance of 100 hours of community service Conducting and directing an illegal gambling business

March 1, 2013

Name Court or Home City Sentencing Date Sentence Offense
Robert Leroy Bebee Rockville, Maryland 1979 Two years' probation Misprision (concealment) of a felony
James Anthony Bordinaro Gloucester, Massachusetts 1991 12 months' imprisonment, three years' supervised release and a $55,000 fine Conspiracy to restrain, suppress, and eliminate competition in violation of the Sherman Act; conspiracy to submit false statements
Kelli Elisabeth Collins Harrison, Arkansas 1994 Five years' probation Aiding and abetting a wire fraud
Edwin Hardy Futch, Jr. Pembroke, Georgia 1976 Five years' probation, $2,399.72 restitution Theft from an interstate shipment
Cindy Marie Griffith Moyock, North Carolina 2000 Two years' probation with 100 hours of community service Distribution of satellite cable television decryption devices
Roy Eugene Grimes, Sr. Athens, Tennessee 1961 18 months' probation Falsely altering a United States postal money order, uttering, and publishing a forged and altered money order with intent to defraud
Jon Christopher Kozeliski Decatur, Illinois 1994 One year of probation with six months of home confinement, $10,000 fine Conspiracy to traffic counterfeit goods
Jimmy Ray Mattison Anderson, South Carolina 1969 Three years' probation Conspiracy to transport and cause the transportation of altered securities in interstate commerce; transporting and causing the transportation of altered securities in interstate commerce
An Na Peng Honolulu, Hawaii 1996 Two years' probation, $2,000 fine Conspiracy to defraud the Immigration and Naturalization Service
Michael John Petri Montrose, South Dakota 1989 Five years' imprisonment, three years' supervised release Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance (cocaine)
Karen Alicia Ragee Decatur, Illinois 1994 One year of probation with six months of home confinement, $2,500 fine Conspiracy to traffic counterfeit goods
Jamari Salleh Alexandria, Virginia 1989 Four years' probation, $5,000 fine, $5,900 restitution False claims upon and against the United States
Alfor Sharkey Omaha, Nebraska 1994 Three years' probation with 100 hours of community service, $2,750 restitution Unauthorized acquisition of food stamps
Donald Barrie Simon, Jr. Chattanooga, Tennessee 1982 Two years' imprisonment, three years' probation Aiding and abetting in the theft of an interstate shipment
Lynn Marie Stanek Tualatin, Oregon 1986 Six months in jail, five years' probation conditioned on residence in a community treatment center for a period not to exceed one year Unlawful use of a communication facility to distribute cocaine
Larry Wayne Thornton Forsyth, Georgia 1974 Four years' probation Possession of an unregistered firearm; possession of a firearm without a serial number
Donna Kaye Wright Friendship, Tennessee 1983 54 days' imprisonment, three years' probation conditioned on performance of six hours of community service per week Embezzlement and misapplication of bank funds

December 19, 2013

Name Court or Home City Sentencing Date Sentence Offense
William Ricardo Alvarez Marietta, Georgia District of Puerto Rico 1979 Time served after nine months' imprisonment, four years' supervised release (April 30, 1997; amended July 31, 1997) Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin; conspiracy to import heroin
Charlie Lee Davis, Jr. Wetumpka, Alabama Middle District of Alabama 1995 87 months' imprisonment, five years' supervised release (March 21, 1995) Possession with intent to distribute cocaine base; use of a minor to distribute cocaine base
Ronald Eugene Greenwood Crane, Missouri District of South Dakota 1996 Three years' probation, conditioned on six months' home confinement, 100 hours' community service, $5,000 restitution, $1,000 fine (November 18, 1996) Conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act
Little Joe Hatch, aka Joe Hatch Sr. Lake Placid, Florida Southern District of Florida 1990 60 months' imprisonment, four years' supervised release (May 15, 1990) Possession with intent to distribute marijuana
Martin Alan Hatcher Foley, Alabama, Southern District Of Alabama 1992 5 years' probation Distribution and possession with intent to distribute marijuana[11]
Derek James Laliberte District of Maine (October 2, 1992; amended May 21, 1993). 18 months' imprisonment, 2 years' supervised release Money laundering[12]
Alfred J. Mack District of Columbia Superior Court (April 5, 1982) 18 to 54 months' imprisonment Unlawful distribution of heroin[12]
Robert Andrew Schindler District of Utah (May 14, 1996). Three years' probation, four months' home confinement, $10,000 restitution Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud[12]
Willie Shaw, Jr. District of South Carolina (August 7, 1974) Fifteen years' imprisonment Armed bank robbery
Kimberly Lynn Stout, formerly known as Kimberly Lynn Cooley Western District of Virginia (November 9, 1993) One day's imprisonment, three years' supervised release (including five months' home confinement) Bank embezzlement, fraud[12]
Bernard Anthony Sutton, Jr. Eastern District of Virginia (April 4, 1989) Three years' probation, $825 restitution, $500 fine Theft of personal property[12]
Chris Deann Switzer District of Nebraska (June 25, 1996) Four years' probation, conditioned on six months' home confinement, 200 hours' community service Conspiracy to violate narcotics laws (methamphetamine)[12]
Miles Thomas Wilson Williamsburg, Ohio Southern District of Ohio 1981 Three years' probation (July 15, 1981) Mail fraud

January 17, 2017

During his 4th to last day in office, Obama pardoned James Cartwright, who was awaiting sentencing for giving false statements to federal investigators, and Willie McCovey was pardoned for tax evasion.[13][14]

Commutations

November 21, 2011

Name Court Sentenced Sentence Offense Terms of
commutation
Eugenia Marie Jennings United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois 2001 262 months (21 years, 10 months) in prison, 8 years of supervised release, $1,750 fine Distribution of cocaine base Sentence expired on December 21, 2011, leaving intact and in effect the eight-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.
Mark Anthony Jones United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida 1999 Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release Distribution of cocaine base Prison sentence commuted to expire on November 10, 2015, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.
Rory Larry Lee United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida 1990 Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base (enhanced penalty), distribution of 50 grams or more of cocaine base (two counts) N/A.

December 19, 2013

Name Court Sentenced Sentence Offense Terms of Commutation
Clarence Aaron United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama December 10, 1993 Life imprisonment; 5 years' supervised release Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, attempt to possess cocaine with intent to distribute (erroneously listed in the judgment as conspiracy to distribute cocaine) Sentence of imprisonment to expire on April 17, 2014, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence

July 13, 2015

On this day, Obama announced he would be commuting the sentences of 46 drug offenders.[15]

June 3, 2016

On this day, Obama announced he would be commuting the sentences of 42 offenders.[16]

Name Court Sentencing Date Time served Offense Terms of
commutation
Eric E. Alvarez Eastern District of North Carolina 2000 360 months (30 years) in prison, 5 years of supervised release Distribution of cocaine and cocaine base Sentence expired on October 1, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the five-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.
Dale Baldwin Middle District of Florida 1995 Life imprisonment; 10 years' supervised release Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base Prison sentence commuted to expire on October 1, 2016, leaving intact and in effect the 10-year term of supervised release with all its conditions and all other components of the sentence.

December 20, 2016

Obama granted 78 commutations on this day.[3]

January 17, 2017

On this day, Obama pardoned 64 individuals and commuted the sentence of 209 individuals (109 of whom faced life sentences).[2] These included Chelsea Manning and Oscar López Rivera, enabling them to be released from prison on May 17, 2017.[17][18]

January 19, 2017

Obama commuted the prison sentences of 330 federal inmates, particularly drug offenders, on Thursday, January 19, 2017, his last full day in office. Obama did so, as one of his final acts in office, in order to reduce what he viewed as overly harsh punishments.[7]

See also

Notes

  1. As he finishes his second year in office, Obama pardons nine people
  2. "President Obama Grants Nine Pardons". whitehouse.gov. December 3, 2010. Retrieved December 5, 2010.

References

  1. ^ "Office of the Pardon Attorney". United States Department of Justice.
  2. ^ a b c Neil Eggelston, [1], White House (January 2017).
  3. ^ a b Allie Malloy, [2], CNN (December 2016).
  4. ^ Matt Apuzzo, After Obama Push for Clemency, Hints of Reversal Likely to Come, New York Times (November 22, 2016).
  5. ^ "Obama grants 330 more commutations, bringing total to a record 1,715". USA TODAY. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  6. ^ "Obama grants final 330 commutations to nonviolent drug offenders". Washington Post. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Staff, AOL. "President Obama commutes prison sentences for 330 before leaving office".
  8. ^ "Ex Parte Garland". LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved February 6, 2017. The power thus conferred is unlimited, with the exception stated. It extends to every offence known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken or during their pendency or after conviction and judgment.
  9. ^ a b c "USDOJ: Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Executive Clemency". USDOJ.
  10. ^ "Pardons Granted by President Barack Obama (2009-2017) | PARDON | Department of Justice". www.justice.gov. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  11. ^ "President Obama Grants Pardons and commutations". www.whitehouse.gov.
  12. ^ a b c d e f "An Obama rarity: 13 pardons". Usatoday.com. December 20, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  13. ^ Williams, Katie Bo (January 17, 2017). "Obama pardons James Cartwright in leak case". The Hill. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  14. ^ "President Obama pardons Willie McCovey for tax evasion". USA Today. January 17, 2017. Retrieved July 10, 2017.
  15. ^ Liptak, Kevin (July 13, 2015). "President Barack Obama commutes sentences of 46 drug offenders". CNN. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  16. ^ "Utah man whose long drug sentence stirred controversy is released". Washington Post. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  17. ^ Savage, Charlie (January 17, 2017). "Obama Commutes Bulk of Chelsea Manning's Sentence". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  18. ^ "Barack Obama conmuta sentencia de Oscar López". El Nuevo Día (in Spanish). Retrieved January 17, 2017.

External links

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