War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America's Colony

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America's Colony

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 1568585616

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In 1950, after over fifty years of military occupation and colonial rule, the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico staged an unsuccessful armed insurrection against the United States. Violence swept through the island: assassins were sent to kill President Harry Truman, gunfights roared in eight towns, police stations and post offices were burned down. In order to suppress this uprising, the US Army deployed thousands of troops and bombarded two towns, marking the first time in history that the US government bombed its own citizens.

Nelson A. Denis tells this powerful story through the controversial life of Pedro Albizu Campos, who served as the president of the Nationalist Party. A lawyer, chemical engineer, and the first Puerto Rican to graduate from Harvard Law School, Albizu Campos was imprisoned for twenty-five years and died under mysterious circumstances. By tracing his life and death, Denis shows how the journey of Albizu Campos is part of a larger story of Puerto Rico and US colonialism.

Through oral histories, personal interviews, eyewitness accounts, congressional testimony, and recently declassified FBI files, War Against All Puerto Ricans tells the story of a forgotten revolution and its context in Puerto Rico’s history, from the US invasion in 1898 to the modern-day struggle for self-determination. Denis provides an unflinching account of the gunfights, prison riots, political intrigue, FBI and CIA covert activity, and mass hysteria that accompanied this tumultuous period in Puerto Rican history.

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landscapes, and architecture, particularly in Ponce and San Juan. Viguié stated that the island’s trees, landscapes, ocean, and people had as much narrative power as any of the elements of Leni Riefenstahl’s megaproduction, if not more. This view on Viguié’s part was confirmed by his forty years of newsreel and documentary photography of Puerto Rico as well as by an interview with his son, Juan E. Viguié Jr. 17. In 1962, Juan Emilio Viguié visited our home in Washington Heights and provided a

the June 27 issue of Time magazine. CHAPTER 6 Cadets of the Republic Julio Feliciano Colón was not cutting sugar cane today. He was putting on a pair of white pants, black shirt, black tie, and white overseas cap with a Cross of Calatrava patch. He was going to march and drill today as a member of the Cadets of the Republic. No one forced Julio to become a cadet. He joined because he was tired of cutting cane sixty hours a week for a salary of $4 and because four Yankee companies owned

Rosado, Pedro Albizu Campos, 365; Bruno, La Insurrección Nacionalista, 171–172. 65. “Assassin Slain Another Shot at Truman’s Door Puerto Rican Terrorists Kill Guard, Wound 2; President Glimpses Battle’s End from Window,” Washington Post, November 2, 1950, 1. 66. “2 Die, 3 Shot as Pair Try to Kill Truman,” New York Daily News, November 2, 1950, 1. 67. “2 Puerto Rican Revolutionists Try to Kill Truman at Home,” Baltimore Sun, November 2, 1950, 1. 68. In addition to the three above-referenced

about the prison break at El Oso Blanco, the shootout at La Fortaleza, the burned police stations, the governor’s declaration of martial law, the deployment of 5,000 National Guardsmen, the siege of Pedro Albizu Campos’s home. And there was nothing he could do. He made a quick trip to the bathroom and discovered the secret panel was still there. The hidden basement next door contained dozens of loaded weapons and over 6,000 rounds of ammunition. Ea rayo! he must have thought. Those weapons

they’d already shot Doris Torresola in the throat. Anything could happen to Albizu. And then the idea hit him—a way to get himself out from under house arrest and enable him to tell Albizu that they still had weapons. Lots of them. Even after Albizu’s inevitable arrest, the revolution could continue. Vidal talked to the FBI agents out front, and they sent a telegram to Vicente Géigel Polanco, the attorney general of Puerto Rico. Vidal had offered to broker Albizu’s surrender.4 Then Vidal called

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