Albizu Campos and the development of the puertorican national conscience in the XX century.
Manuel Maldonado-Denis.


Forward to the thesis of the fact that we are "bridge between two cultures" Albizu Campos defines the problem with perspicacity. The matter is to make the countries of Our America a model for Puerto Rico. Or what is not but the same contemporary lexicon, "to stabilize" the Latin America. From there, the continental solidarity will be indispensable as a previous condition for a united Latin America, strong and independent. If, as Juarez's famous judgment said, "the respect to foreign right is the peace", could not have peace in the hemisphere while there is a sole country - in this case Puerto Rico - that is yet found under the colonial shoe-lace that has been imposed to it. The cause of Puerto Rico is the continental cause because in our fatherland is played the destination - not only of its independence, but of the independence of all the countries of the hemisphere at to the south of the Rio Grande.

What is at stake in Puerto Rico is something more than mere independence. It is being playing the destination of a people, the survival of a nationality. The matter is whether we'll have continue being Puerto Rican or not. That's the dilemma. Albizu Campos has no doubts about the fact that we were a nation. According to the definition that he offers us about what is a nationality in El Nacionalista (The Nationalist) over the fourth decade, this "is not only ethnic, cultural and religious unity of the human society, but also the community unity of their material interests on a certain territory, in which their own children will be owners and sirs". Given this definition, it was mandatory the rescue of the national patrimony alienated to northamerican hands. It was also mandatory to develop a capable political instrument of carrying out a tactics and strategy that could recapture the national patrimony alienated as a means of defense for the preservation of the nationality. Albizu Campos considers that such instrument is the Nationalistic Party, since that the "puertorican nationalism is the organized fatherland for the rescue of its sovereignty".

On May 11th, 1930 is carried out the general assembly of the Nationalistic Party in the Puerto Rican Athenaeum. The oath taken at the end of the assembly gives an idea of the new direction that would be left by his recently elect president, Pedro Albizu Campos: "We swear here solemnly that we will defend the nationalistic ideal and that we will sacrifice our estate and our life, if it would be accurate, for the independence of our fatherland". The approved program in such assembly is one of highly nationalistic and antiimperialistic character. All this accord with the series of articles that the illustrious nationalistic would write about the economic Puerto Rico problem in the newspaper El Nacionalista (The Nationalist) and where he expresses the following:

The nation can not exist without the possession of all its material wealth. Agriculture, industry, trade, communications, franchises and any form of wealth must be in native hands in order to assure the life of the nationality. Insurance companies, banking institutions, and any organization devoted to the mobilization of wealth, is mandatory to convert them to national interest.

If one must to impose the political independence, by the weapons if it would be necessary, in order to acquire economic independence within colonial government, when the nation enjoys its full sovereignty, to guarantee its existence as independent State, it must nationalize its wealth and must not permit that foreign element could appropriate such wealth.

We shall remember that we arego by the fourth decade. It's the decade of the world capitalistic system great depression. All the scaffolding that had supported the capitalism until moment seems to totter. As a NorthAmerican colony, Puerto Rico, suffers profoundly the shake that would launch thousands of unemployed to the streets and that will cause the ruin of the small merchants and farmers. In the metropolis the same crisis is auspicious for the access to the power of a democrat administration committed with a "New Dealing" to the United States and a policy of "Good Neighboring" to the South American continent. Since 1922 we'll enter into a new phase of imperialism: the reformist phase that transcends the one designated as "carelessness imperialism " by that acute studious that it is profesor Gordon K. Lewis. It's the phase of the federal help through programs such as the PRA and the PRERA; it's the advent of the novotratistas liberals as Ernest Gruening and, afterwards, Rexord Guy Tugwell.

In fact, nothing will change in an essential way. Apparently influenced by the recent victory of the republican forces in Spain, Albizu Campos decides to launch his party to the 1932 electoral contest. But already in the statements of the National Board of the Nationalistic Party (May 18th, 1931) we see with how skepticism he saw such association the colonial elections on the verge to be celebrated. Such statements say:

Any imperial power makes its violations always invoking principles of justice. United States has the way of comparing their most ominous purposes with the sweetest words of equality, fraternity, freedom, democracy, etc.

That idea of mobilizing each four years the electorate public opoinnion, and to spend large money sums on elections, only serves to maintain another farce of the fact that suffrage exists in Puerto Rico .

Suffrage exists where there's a regime of freedom that depends on a regime of rights, this is of a regime responsible to the governors and that emanates from their will.

The Nationalistic Party would test if exists or not suffrage in Puerto Rico and will test the regime in a definitive form when it decrees the Constituent Convention of the Republic upon obtaining the vote from the majorities.

This position is reiterated in the Nationalistic Party Manifesto because of the 1932 elections given to publicity in November 2nd, that same year. Albizu Campos detractors have said a lot about those elections results in terms of the Nationalistic Party fight. There's no doubt that it was a very breathless result: five thousands and a bit votes for the Nationalistic Party and fifteen thousand votes for Albizu Campos (Nevertheless, we shall not forget that the Liberal Party leadered by Barceló, with a clearly nationalistic platform, can reach a total of 170168 votes in those elections. That shows signs of the real independentists force, since we can not separate the reformist wing from the revolutionary wing, inside the pro independence sector). Albizu Campos reasserts his beliefs that the only way to reach Puerto Rico freedom is the revolutionary way. In words that seem echoes of Frantz Fanon, he advert us against the problem of the colonization of a nation when he notes: "Exerting violence openly doesn't suit for any empire, and it always uses the controled natin natives to exercise prepotence... As no empire can exists without the natives' cooperation f the nation occupied by force, they use them but they despise them". (El Mundo, July 24th, 1933.) And when talking about the recently celebrated elections also indicates the authentic demoralizing face of colonialism advertising us:

Puerto Rico presents the siatuation of a shipwreck of the most appraised human values: honor, patriotism, sacrifice. Yankee imperialism in what is moral, it has concluded us the slight of ourselves; in what is material, has converted us from owners into pawns, and from pawns into beggars condemned to death.

Nationalism is the only salvation because it makes to reborn in each one of us the conscience of a free man for who the human dignity does not has price, and who could not conceive because he does not may have the right to govern the destinations of his sons or of his fatherland.

Thereafter the illustrious nationalistic undertakes his definitive trek. As Lutero in his moment he just can exclaim: "Here I set. I am not able to do anything else". And starts the period of conspiracy, repression and death...

It remains definitely settled the fact that "the electoral struggle is a periodic farce The illustrious ponceñoin order to maintain divided the Puerto Rican family".(El Mundo, June 28th, 1933), as well as the scope of his famous phrase: "the victory of Puerto Ricans over Puerto Ricans is the rout of the fatherland". And because of the takeover of the colonial governor Robert H. Gore he would say: "despotism doesn't has sanction and it's derided when it's invoked. Despotism is only respectable when it speaks by mouth of its cannons". (El Mundo, July 11th, 1932) It's settled so that the colonial regime is by its own nature one of a despotic character that can be submitted solely by means of the force. Each day more the illustrious ponceño gets the conviction that it doesn't exist any other alternative before such act of force than the use of the revolutionary violence. His proselytising labor continues. In 1934 he's called by the cane workers so that he represent them beacuse of the strike begun by these against the large interest of the American sugar companies. His figure acquires a huge popularity. Thousands attend to listen his vibrant and praising verb. The organizational labor for the achievement of a rebellious organization capable of put on check the colonial system starts to collect impulse. In the Puerto Rico University it's organized the National Federation of Puerto Rican Students.

The massacre of Río Piedras.

We are in 1935. Colonel Riggs, chief of the colonial police, informs that the nationalists will have "war and more war" under his incumbency. October 24th, 1935 is fulfilled his prophecy. There's a big unrest in the Puerto Rico University beacuse of a student assembly that was going to be celebrated. Police tends a fence around the University. Near rio Piedras' Brumbaugh Street a group of nationalists is intercepted by the police. The car in which they travel is gunned down. Four nationalists die as result of what would be later designated as "the massacre of Río Piedras" : Ramón S. Pagón, Pedro Quiñones, Eduardo Rodríguez Vera y José Santiago. Another one, Dionisio Pearson, results gravely injured. Aside from this a citizen innocent of the facts dies in the shoot-out. The police alleges self-defense and shows one of its injured men. No one of the policemen that participate in the slaughter is accused. On the contrary, many of the involved officers are ascended. Albizu Campos attends to bid farewell the duel of the four nationalistic guys. His words reveal with clarity median his commitment: "The school of heroism will threaten forever the school of force and will crush it...Let us swear that when that moment arrives we will know to die as heros, because heroism is the only savation that individuals as well as nations have"(El Mundo, October 25th, 1936).

It was, indeed, the war. The unequal war between an empire in the height of its power and a little group of patriots that just can show to the world their value and their sacrifice feeling.

February 23th, 1936, two nationalistic young men, Hiram Rosado and Elías Beauchamp, execute colonel Riggs in response to the Massacre of Río Piedras. Carried to the police headquarters of San Juan's San Francisco Street they are gunned down there by the policemen, that alleges self-defense. Before the tomb of the Puerto Rican heros Albizu Campos will pronounce one of his most memorable speeches. Let us hear him:

The most permanent value in the human is the value. The value is the supreme virtue of the human and it's cultivated as is cultivated any virtue and it can be lost as it's lost any virtue. The value in the individual is a supreme well. It's worthless for people to be full of wisdom and of physical vitality if ther's a lack of value. Because value is the only thing that permits the transmutation of human for a superior goal. The value is what permits human to be promenaded firm and calmly on the shades of death and when human passes calms and quietly on the shades of death, then human enters into immortality.

To enter into immortality there is only one entry: the door of the value that leads to sacrifice by a supreme cause. One must be sacrificed for the independence of the fatherland.

Judgement to Albizu.

At this time Albizu Campos is already too dangerous for the metropolis. Roosevelt's liberal administration decides to prosecute him under the referring North American laws by the offense of "sedition". All the metropolitan scaffolding is mobilized in order to achieve the imprisonment of the Nationalistic Master and of the high leadership of his party. In the first celebrated judgement (July 14th, 1936) the juror does not achieve be in agreement. The second judgement starts under smaller patronages: ten NorthAmerican and two Puerto Rican compose it. In its selection participates directly the colonial governor Winship along with the federal prosecutor Cecil Snyder. This time does achieve conviction. July 31th, 1936, Albizu Campos and his are condemned to long jail chains in the federal prison of Atlanta, Georgia. Little before his movement to the southern penitentiary, and while he stays imprisoned in La Princesa jail, it's perpetrated the final act of colonialist repression. It's 1937 Palm Sunday. The Municipal Board of the Nationalistic Party of Ponce had requested permit to celebrate a demonstration in solidarity with the political prisoners. At the last moment it's revoked the conceded permission by the mayor. The nationalists decide to follow forward with their activity. The policeman, under the orders of colonel Orbeta and following instructions of governor Winship, is intentionally placed at the front of the demonstration, compound by some hundred persons between men, women and children. Pursuant to what was programmed, the nationalists decide to march after the national anthem playing. The policemen open fire against the demonstrators. The balance: more than twenty dead and about sixty injured. Afterwards the investigating committee directed by Arthur Garfield Hay would say that there had been "a massacre" in Ponce. But neither a policeman was accused by the events. On the contrary, many of them were ascended of range. And as a sheer ignominy of the colonial legislature, the intellectual and material author of the massacre, governor Blanton Winship, is rewarded designated him "adoptive Puerto Rico son".

Advert that Albizu Campos pass quicly by the Puerto Rican political life in this crucial decade. Convicted in 1936 and incarcerated in 1937, his revolutionary and patriotic labor is extended by the short period of some six years. The empire incarcerates him, together with the better tables of nationalism. Furthermore, it decimates the militancy and pursues the survivors. Ten years would be the illustrious ponceño outside of Puerto Rico. Though it was formally freed in 1943, it will not be until December of 1947 when he will return to Puerto Rico. During that short lapse from 1930 to 1936 his labor on behalf the crystallization of the Puerto Rican national conscience was really titanic. In certain moment he became the conscience of this people, in its more relentless investigator. Upon creating a national movement of revolutionary character he contributed to clear the illusions with respect to the possibility of the fact that independence would be, not an achievement of our struggle, but a mere grant of vlition of the empire that govern us.

Upon incarcerating all the high nationalist leadership together with its maximum leader, the empire was removing one of the greatest reefs interposed to achieve its attempt of breaking definitely the national resistance of the Puerto Rican people. The other independent sector, of reformist wing, remains once Barceló is dead in hands of Luis Muñoz Marín. The turning toward right of the formerly independentist starts to be outlined already in a definitive way with the foundation of the Democratic Popular Party in 1938. With the slogan: "the status is not in 'issué' in the 1940's elections", Muñoz Marín attracts a lots of independentists who interpreted his words as a mere postponement of the problem for a future occasion. When the time passed away, however, the turn is made more evident. And with the popular surround of 1944 the luck of the independentists within Popular Party is thrown. While Albizu Campos stagnates in the porridges of Atlanta, Muñoz Marín aims blow after blow against the forces that helped in preponderant form to achieve his access power.

Albizu Campos finally returns to Puerto Rico in December of 1947. In 1946 a group of Puerto Rican patriots had established the Puerto Rican Independentist Party. A great multitude is going to the port of San Juan to receive the patrician. With characteristic keenness answers the American official that queries him about if he brings some seed with himself: "The same seed that I carried is the one which I bring". And when a lady goes closer to him in order to tell him how much she has regretted his absence, the Master retorts: "The law of love and sacrifice does not admit absences. I have never been absent of Puerto Rico". And then in the park Sixto Escobar confirms once again in his insurrectionl thesis. As a greeting to the newcomer the undergraduates brought down the northamerican flag and hoist the Puerto Rican in the tower of the University.

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Most recent revision: Feb. 26, 2002.