Puerto Rican Nationalist Party | Wikipedia audio article

Puerto Rican Nationalist Party | Wikipedia audio article


The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party (Spanish:
Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico, PNPR) is a Puerto Rican political party which was
founded on September 17, 1922. Its main objective was to work for Puerto Rican independence.
The election in 1930 of Pedro Albizu Campos as its president of the Nationalist Party
brought a radical change to the organization and its tactics.
In the 1930s, intimidation, repression and persecution of Party members by the government,
then headed by a U.S. president-appointed governor, led to the assassination of two
government officials, the attempted assassination of a federal judge in Puerto Rico, and the
Rio Piedras and Ponce massacres. Under the leadership of Albizu Campos, the party abandoned
the electoral process in favor of direct armed conflict as means to gain independence from
the United States. By the late 1940s, a more US-friendly party,
the Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico, had gained an overwhelming number of seats
in the legislature and, in 1948, it passed “Puerto Rico’s Gag Law”, which attempted to
suppress the Nationalist Party and similar opposition. The Puerto Rican police arrested
many Nationalist Party members under this law, some of whom were sentenced to lengthy
prison terms. With a new political status pending for Puerto Rico as a Commonwealth,
Albizu Campos ordered armed uprisings in several Puerto Rican towns to occur on October 30,
1950. In an related effort, two Nationalists also attempted to assassinate US President
Harry S. Truman on November 1, 1950, in an effort to call international attention to
issues related to Puerto Rico’s political status, but the attempt failed. The last major
armed event by the Nationalists occurred in 1954 at the US House of Representatives when
four party members shot and wounded five Congressmen. After Albizu Campos’s death in 1965, the party
dissolved into factions and members joined other parties, but some continue to follow
the party’s ideals in one form or another, often informally or ad hoc, to this day.==Historical context==After four hundred years of colonial domination
under the Spanish Empire, Puerto Rico finally received its sovereignty in 1898 through a
Carta de Autonomía (Charter of Autonomy). This Charter of Autonomy was signed by Spanish
Prime Minister Práxedes Mateo Sagasta and ratified by the Spanish Cortes. Despite this,
just a few months later, the United States claimed ownership of the island as part of
the Treaty of Paris which concluded the Spanish–American War.
Opponents to the colonial government argued that the profits generated by this arrangement
were one-sided, enormous for the United States.When the war ended, U.S. President McKinley appointed
Charles Herbert Allen as the first civilian governor of Puerto Rico. Though Allen had
a business background, his financial administration of Puerto Rico was strikingly unsound. He
ignored the appropriation requests of the Puerto Rican House of Delegates, refused to
make any municipal, agricultural or small business loans, built roads at double the
costs of preceding administrations, and left 85% of the school-age population without schools.
Rather than making these requested infrastructure and education investments, Allen’s budget
raided the Puerto Rican treasury. His administration re-directed tax revenues to no-bid contracts
for U.S. businessmen, railroad subsidies for U.S.-owned sugar plantations, and high salaries
for U.S. bureaucrats in the island government.Allen’s financial acumen improved considerably when
he returned to the U.S., and resumed his own personal business interests. In 1901, Allen
resigned as governor and installed himself as president of the largest sugar-refining
company in the world, the American Sugar Refining Company. This company was later renamed as
the Domino Sugar company. In effect, Charles Allen leveraged his governorship of Puerto
Rico into a controlling interest over the entire Puerto Rican economy.In 1914, the Puerto
Rican House of Delegates voted unanimously for independence from the United States. In
1917, the US Congress passed an act by which it granted citizenship to Puerto Rican residents.
This was overwhelmingly opposed by the island’s political leaders. Critics said the US was
simply interested in increasing the size of its conscription pool to get soldiers for
World War I.==United States “Manifest Destiny”==By 1930, over 40 percent of all the arable
land in Puerto Rico had been converted into sugar plantations, which were entirely owned
by Domino Sugar Company and U.S. banking interests. These bank syndicates also owned the entire
coastal railroad, and the San Juan international seaport.This was not limited to Puerto Rico.
By 1930 the United Fruit Company owned over one million acres of land in Guatemala, Honduras,
Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico and Cuba. By 1940, in Honduras alone, the
United Fruit Company owned 50 percent of all private land in the entire country. In Guatemala,
the United Fruit Company owned 75 percent of all private land by 1942 – plus most of
Guatemala’s roads, power stations and phone lines, the only Pacific seaport, and every
mile of railroad.The U.S. government supported all these economic exploits, and provided
military “persuasion” whenever necessary.==Founding of the Nationalist Party==The origins of the Puerto Rican Nationalist
Party date to 1917, when a group of Union Party members in Ponce, dissatisfied with
the attitude of the Union Party of Puerto Rico towards the “granting” of U.S. citizenship,
formed the “Asociación Nacionalista de Ponce” (Ponce Nationalist Association). Among its
founders were Dr. Guillermo Salazar, Rafael Matos Bernier, J. A. Gonzalez, and Julio Cesar
Fernandez. These men also founded the newspaper El Nacionalista.The Puerto Rican Nationalist
Party was formed as a direct response to the American colonial government. In 1919, José
Coll y Cuchí, a member of the Union Party of Puerto Rico, felt that the Union Party
was not doing enough for the cause of Puerto Rican independence. Coll y Cuchí and some
followers left to form the Nationalist Association of Puerto Rico in San Juan. Under Coll y Cuchí’s
presidency, the party convinced the Puerto Rican Legislative Assembly to approve an Act
that would permit the transfer of the remains of the Puerto Rican patriot, Ramón Emeterio
Betances, from Paris, France, to Puerto Rico. The Legislative Assembly appointed Alfonso
Lastra Charriez as its emissary since he had French heritage and spoke the language fluently.
Betances’ remains arrived in San Juan on August 5, 1920. A funeral caravan organized by the
Nationalist Association transferred the remains from San Juan to the town of Cabo Rojo, where
his ashes were interred by his monument. By the 1920s, two other pro-independence organizations
had formed on the Island: the Nationalist Youth and the Independence Association of
Puerto Rico. The Independence Association was founded by José S. Alegría, Eugenio
Font Suárez and Leopoldo Figueroa in 1920. On September 17, 1922, these three political
organizations joined forces and formed the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. Coll y Cuchi
was elected president and José S. Alegría (father of Ricardo Alegría) vice-president.
In 1924, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos joined the party and was named vice-president. Alegría
was named Nationalist Party president in 1928 and held that position until 1930. By 1930,
disagreements between Coll y Cuchi and Albizu Campos as to how the party should be run,
led the former and his followers to leave and return to the Union Party. Albizu Campos
did not like what he considered to be Coll y Cuchí’s attitude of fraternal solidarity
with the enemy. On May 11, 1930, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was elected president of the
Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party maintained
that, as a matter of international law, the Treaty of Paris following the Spanish–American
War could not have empowered the Spanish to “give” to the US what was no longer theirs.
Under Albizu Campos’s leadership during the years of the Great Depression, the party became
the largest independence movement in Puerto Rico.
In the mid-1930s, there were disappointing electoral results and strong repression by
the territorial police authorities. The party staged some protests that developed into celebrated
incidents because of police overreaction: The October 1935 Rio Piedras and the Ponce
massacres. In these, government forces fired on unarmed civilians. After the Rio Piedras
massacre, in December 1935, Albizu Campos announced that the Nationalist Party would
withdraw from electoral participation while the United States kept control. Campos began
to advocate direct, violent revolution.==Nationalist Party during 1930–50==
Nationalist Party partisans were involved in a variety of dramatic and violent confrontations
during the 1930-50s: In the 1930s, the party organized the official
youth organization the “Cadets of the Republic” (Cadets of the Republic), headed by Raimundo
Díaz Pacheco and the “Hijas de la Libertad” (Daughters of Freedom), the women’s branch
in which Julia de Burgos served as Secretary General.
On April 6, 1932, Nationalist partisans marched into the Capitol building in San Juan to protest
a legislative proposal to establish the current Puerto Rican flag as the official flag of
the insular government. Nationalists preferred the flag used during the Grito de Lares. A
melée ensued in the building, and one partisan fell to his death from a second floor interior
balcony. The protest was condemned by the legislators Rafael Martínez Nadal and Santiago
Iglesias; and endorsed by others, including the future leader of the statehood party,
Manuel García Méndez. On October 24, 1935, a confrontation with
police at University of Puerto Rico campus in Río Piedras resulted in the deaths of
4 Nationalist partisans and one policeman. The event is known as the Río Piedras massacre.
This and other events led the party to announce on December 12, 1935, a boycott of all elections
held while Puerto Rico remained part of the United States.
On February 23, 1936, in San Juan, two Nationalists assassinated the Insular Police Chief and
ex-U.S. Marine officer, E. Francis Riggs. The Nationalist perpetrators, Hiram Rosado
and Elías Beauchamp, were arrested, transported to police headquarters, and killed within
hours without trial. No policeman was ever tried or indicted for their deaths.
On March 21, 1937, the Nationalist Party organized a peaceful march in the southern city of Ponce.
At the last moment, the permit was withdrawn, and the Insular Police (a force “somewhat
resembling the National Guard of the typical U.S. state” and which answered to the U.S.-appointed
governor Blanton Winship) were arrayed against the marchers. They opened fire upon what a
U.S. Congressman and others reported were unarmed and defenseless cadets and bystanders
alike, killing 19 and badly wounding over 200 more.Many of these unarmed people were
shot in the back while trying to run away – including a 7-year old girl, who died as
a result. An ACLU report declared it a massacre and it has since been known as the Ponce Massacre.
The march had been organized to commemorate the ending of slavery in Puerto Rico by the
governing Spanish National Assembly in 1873, and to protest the incarceration by the U.S.
government of nationalist leader Pedro Albizu Campos. Soon thereafter, the Puerto Rican
government arrested the leadership of the Nationalist party, including Pedro Albizu
Campos. In two trials, they were convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government
of the United States.A government investigation into the incident drew few conclusions. A
second, independent investigation ordered by the US Commission for Civil Rights (May
5, 1937) led by Arthur Garfield Hays (a member of the ACLU) with Fulgencio Piñero, Emilio
Belaval, Jose Davila Rice, Antonio Ayuyo Valdivieso, Manuel Diaz Garcia, and Franscisco M. Zeno,
concluded that the events on March 21constituted a massacre. The report harshly criticized
the repressive tactics and massive civil rights violations by the administration of Governor
Blanton Winship.On July 25, 1938, the municipality of Ponce organized celebrations to commemorate
the American landing in 1898. This included a military parade and speeches by Governor
Blanton Winship, Senate president Rafael Martínez Nadal, and others. When Winship rose to speak,
shots were fired at him, slaying police Colonel Luis Irizarry, who was seated next to the
governor. The Nationalist Interim President M. Medina Ramírez repudiated the shooting
and denied any involvement in it, but numerous Nationalists were arrested and convicted of
participating in the shooting. Winship worked to repress the Nationalists. Jaime Benitez,
a student at the University of Chicago at the time, wrote a letter to President Franklin
D. Roosevelt which in part read as follows: Soon afterward, two Nationalist partisans,
among them Raimundo Díaz Pacheco, attempted to assassinate Robert Cooper, judge of the
Federal Court in Puerto Rico. On May 12, 1939, Winship was summarily removed from his post
as Governor by President Roosevelt. On June 10, 1948, the U.S.-appointed governor
of Puerto Rico, Jesús T. Piñero, under pressure from the United States, signed the “Ley de
la Mordaza” (Gag Law). The law was passed in the Puerto Rican legislature on May 21,
1948, in which the Popular Democratic Party held all but one seat. Its president was Luis
Muñoz Marín. Officially known as Law 53, the 1948 Gag Law made it illegal to display
the Puerto Rican flag, sing patriotic songs, talk about independence, or fight for the
liberation of the island. It resembled the anti-communist Smith Law passed in the United
States. Albizu Campos ordered Nationalist uprisings
to take place on October 30, 1950 (they had originally been planned for 1952, when Commonwealth
status was expected.) These involved a dozen or so skirmishes throughout the island.==The Nationalist Revolts of 1950==The first battle of the Nationalist uprisings
occurred in the early hours of October 29, in barrio Macaná of Peñuelas. The police
surrounded the house of the mother of Melitón Muñiz, the president of the Peñuelas Nationalist
Party, that he was using as a distribution center for weapons for the Nationalist Revolt.
Without warning, the police fired on the Nationalists and a firefight ensued, resulting in the death
of two Nationalists and wounding of six police officers. In the Jayuya Uprising, led by Nationalist
leader Blanca Canales, a police station and post office were burned. The town was held
by the Nationalists for three days.The Utuado Uprising culminated in the Utuado Massacre
by the local police, in which five Nationalists were executed.
The San Juan Nationalist revolt was a Nationalist attempt to enter the Governor’s mansion, La
Fortaleza, in order to attack then-governor Luis Muñoz Marín. The hour-long shootout
resulted in the death of four Nationalists: Domingo Hiraldo Resto, Carlos Hiraldo Resto,
Manuel Torres Medina and Raimundo Díaz Pacheco. Three guards were also seriously wounded. Various other shootouts took place throughout
island – including those at Mayagüez, Naranjito, Arecibo, and Ponce, where Antonio Alicea,
Jose Miguel Alicea, Francisco Campos (Albizu Campos’s nephew), Osvaldo Perez Martinez and
Ramon Pedrosa Rivera were arrested and accused of the murder of police corporal Aurelio Miranda
during the revolt. Raul de Jesus was accused of violating the Insular Firearms Law.On October
31, police officers and National Guardsmen surrounded Salón Boricua, a barbershop in
Santurce. Believing that a group of Nationalists were inside the shop, they opened fire. The
only person in the shop was Campos barber Vidal Santiago Díaz. Santiago Díaz, who
fought alone against the attackers for three hours, received five wounds, including one
in the head. The battle was transmitted “live” via the radio airwaves to the public in general.On
November 1, 1950, Griselio Torresola and Óscar Collazo unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate
U.S. President Harry S. Truman, who was staying at the Blair House in Washington, D.C.
Truman supported development of a constitution for Puerto Rico and the 1952 status referendum
on it; 82% of the voters approved the constitution. The US Congress also approved the constitution.
On March 1, 1954, Lolita Lebrón together with fellow Nationalists Rafael Cancel Miranda,
Irvin Flores and Andrés Figueroa Cordero attacked the U.S. House of Representatives
in Washington, D.C. The group opened fire with automatic pistols. Some 30 shots were
fired (mostly by Cancel, according to his account), wounding five lawmakers. One of
the congressmen, Representative Alvin Bentley from Michigan, was seriously wounded. Upon
her arrest, Lebrón yelled “I did not come to kill anyone, I came to die for Puerto Rico!”
On November 18, 1955, a non-violent splinter group of nationalists calling themselves La
Quinta Columna (The 5th Column) broke away from the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party due
to not supporting the ideas and thoughts of Albizu Campos, as to a Puerto Rico relationship
with Spain as its Mother country and their nationalistic love for Puerto Rico as their
Motherland. The other reason for the splinter group was due to the violence that took place
in the 1950s. This splinter group would later become known in 1968 as El Movimiento Indio
Taino de Boriken (The Taino Indian Movement of Puerto Rico) which was primarily made up
of the children of the Puerto Rican Nationalists whom would come to establish the indigenous
grassroots civil rights movement in Puerto Rico.==Recent events==
Although less active, the Nationalist Party continues to exist as an organization and
an ideology. As recently as 2013 they made a public demonstration of their pro-Independence
commitment by protesting a speech from the Governor of Puerto Rico.The New York Junta
is an autonomous organ of the party that recognizes, and is recognized by, the National Junta in
Puerto Rico.In 2006 and in representation of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, Jose
Castillo spoke before the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization and said that
the Nationalist Party “had appeared in the past to denounce colonialism in Puerto Rico
and hoped the Special Committee would show its commitment to the island’s struggle for
self-determination, so that it could join the United Nations in its own right… The
Special Committee and its resolutions on Puerto Rico were indispensable instruments.” Castillo
“called upon the United States Government to assure the Puerto Rican people of their
right to self-determination and human rights and immediately cease the persecution, arrests,
and murders perpetrated against independence fighters. Vieques peace activists must be
freed immediately, and the FBI’s electronic surveillance and continued harassment of independence
fighters must be stopped. The United States must also end its actions against basic human
rights while fully implementing the United Nations resolution calling for a constituent
assembly to begin decolonization.” Castillo added that “Puerto Rico had its own national
identity…Since its 1898 invasion, the United States had tried to destroy the nationality
of Puerto Rican people. It kept Puerto Rico in isolation, maintaining it as private corporation
from which it earned billions a year…exploitation had made foreigners richer and the Puerto
Rican people poorer. The fact that Puerto Rico was the last territory in the world could
not be hidden. Violation of rights there would cease only once it was a free and independent
nation. The United States must provide compensation for what it had done to Puerto Rico’s land
and people.”==Photo gallery====
See also==Articles related to the quest of Puerto Rican
independence: Truman assassination attempt
Puerto Rico’s Gag LawMale members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party Pedro Albizu Campos
José S. Alegría Casimiro Berenguer
Rafael Cancel Miranda José Coll y Cuchí
Oscar Collazo Juan Antonio Corretjer
Carmelo Delgado Delgado Raimundo Díaz Pacheco
Irvin Flores Andres Figueroa Cordero
Hugo Margenat Francisco Matos Paoli
Vidal Santiago Díaz Daniel Santos
Clemente Soto Vélez Griselio Torresola
Antonio Vélez Alvarado Carlos Vélez Rieckehoff
Teófilo Villavicencio MarxuachFemale members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party Julia de Burgos
Blanca Canales Rosa Collazo
Lolita Lebron Isabel Rosado
Isabel Freire de Matos Ruth Mary Reynolds
Isolina Rondón Olga Viscal Garriga Articles related to the
Puerto Rican Independence Movement Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
Cadets of the Republic Ponce Massacre
Río Piedras massacre Puerto Rican Nationalist Party Revolts of
the 1950s Puerto Rican Independence Party
Grito de Lares Intentona de Yauco

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