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

More repression.

1948 will be a very meaningful year in the Puerto Rican student struggles. As reprisal against the hoisting of the Puerto Rican flag that we have just alluded, governor Jaime Benítez suspends summarily the students Juan Mari Bras, Jorge Luis Landing and Juan Noriega Maldonado. Upon beginning the second semester 1947-48, the struggle between the rector and the students is intensified. The students decide to decree a strike. Benítez calls the policeman to the university campus and proceed to suspend a greater number of students. Some teachers could not renew their contracts. In conjunction with the university strike and the return of Albizu Campos, the Legislative Puerto Rico Assembly approves the Law 53, better known as the Gag Law. As the representative Benjamin Ortiz would confess at that time, this was not but a translation to Spanish of the oppressive Smith Law outstanding in the United States. With the aid of the police and the use of firm hand against students, principal Benítez achieves to conspire the crisis and emerges victorious through the virtual emasculation of the university student movement.

We already enter in the postwar era and the beginning of the called Cold War. The UN has been created and the traditional empires are too weak to retain their ancient colonies. The liquidations process of colonial government gets a great impetus. The United States emerge of the test as the world largest power, strengthening this fact by the atomic monopoly that enjoys. Meanwhile the world most popolous nation is seated in the Asian continent as the first socialistic country in that limit of the planet.

The colonial Puerto Rico situation creates a serious problem to the United States before the world public opinion. It's still a necessity that the imperial power yields reports about this dependent territory. As a means of avoiding the continuation of this undesirable situation, the American Congress approves the Public Law 600, that authorizes the Puerto Rican people to draft their own Constitution. A new term is created to baptize to the creature: "Commonwealth". Thus the United States could be presented before the international community not as a colonial power after that the Puerto Rican may have ratified their desire of continue being a colony. The independentists were not called to this deceit. The Puerto Rican Independent Party boycotted the called "Constituent Convention". Albizu Campos and the nationalists were yet further. In October 30th, 1950, there were several armed outbreaks in various parts of the island. And in November 1st, 1950, the nationalistic Griselio Torresola and Óscar Collazo assault the Blair House in a fruitless attempt of killing president Truman. Such action purpose was to dramatize before the world public opinion the real Puerto Rico situation and everything was made to conceal it. A massive force deployment is the response of the colonial government. Hundreds are arrested. The insurrected ones resist heroically but they are crushed by very superior forces. Albizu Campos is arrested and prosecuted under the arrangements of the Gag Law. He will go to judgement with many other nationalistic. He's found guilty and is stated again to a long prison penalty. Some of his companions will receive judgment sentence of more than 400 prison years. Already for that moment the Nationalistic Master has very bad health conditions. Governor Muñoz Marín pardons him answering to pressures of national and international type. Submitted to a constant alertness he's already captured definitely after that March 1st, 1954, the nationalistic Lolita Lebrón, Irving Flores Rodríguez, Rafael Cancel Miranda and Andrés Figueroa Cordero shoot the House of Representatives of the United States Congress. Such act - made in order to dramatize the problem of the recruitment of the Puerto Rican youngmen into the North American army is justified by Albizu with the following words:

Our fatherland has been suffering the United States military intervention from half century ago. The military intervention is the war in all its aspects: economic, politic, cultural, etc., because military interventions are carried out with an solely end that it's to destroy the busy nationality and to convert it into colony of the empire, exploitable into all its forms...

Our faith in law gave us an infinite patience to resist the misbehaviors of the northamerican occupant power. That patience has confused the United States leaders that catalogued us between the passive peoples of the Earth and carry them until the insolence of the fact that, being victims of their empire, intend to recruit our children by force with the purpose of serve at their imperialistic goals all around the world...

Thereafter the Nationalistic Master will acquire his freedom little before his death. Paralyzed as the result of a heart attack, he will live his last years incarcerated in the Presbyterian Hospital. There have passed more than twenty-five years of his life in jail. When the approach the moment of his death, governor Muñoz Marín decrees his pardon. In house of the unselfish Juanita Ojeda passes the last days of his life. But before the news of his death the puertorican patriot people answers crowdly. A huge multitude estimated in some 60000 persons attend his burial. Upon sounding the final puertorican conscience loud knock that meant his physical death, became patent the judgement of his disciple Juan Antonio Corretjer little before his death: "nothing neither nobody can already against Pedro Albizu Campos. The stoic challenger of all the pains came out to the immunity by the door of all the pains. The one who wants incarcerate him will see that can not kill him. The ones who killed him will realize that they can not kill him. The injured has reduced to the impotence to the almighty ones."

Albizu in action

The historical exact dimension of a personage is measured by his/her capacity to be perpetuated in the reports of the present and bycoming generations. Such capacity is found in function of the forces that determine the historical development and that impart to this a given course. In that sense there are also reactionary forces, forces that hinder the historical development instead of accelerating it. In the world in which we live the defender forces of colonialism and of neocolonialism are the reactionary forces that hinder the full achievement of the national liberation, while individuals, groups and classes that intend to achieve the eradication of such system are those which constitute the highest expresion of the interest of the humanity. Throughout our history as colonial people we find the struggle between these two trends. It's the struggle between Betances and Baldorioty, between Muñoz Rivera and De Diego, between Muñoz Marín and Albizu Campos. But more than the struggle of these men is the struggle of the interest by them represented. It's considered a world struggle, it's universal. It's Lumuba against Tshombe, Cao Key against Ho Chi Minh, Onganía against Che Guevara. It's indeed, the great conscience takeover of those sectors of humanity that, previously marginalized of the historical development, are nowadays their main actors. The greatness of men and peoples will depend substantially of the place of these with respect to the before mentioned forces. Little cares, in that sense, that the great libertors could say with the Apostle Martí: "Because I will not cover my house with the branches of the tree that I have cultivated". When what it has been planted is the tree of freedom, the future generations will know how to yield the just homage to who had the value of sowing it. That and not other thing is immortality.

Upon pronouncing his famous speech before the tombs of the immortal Hiram Beauchamp and Elías Rosado, Albizu Campos said that "when the man promenades calms and quietly over the shades of death, then is that the man enters into immortality". Upon pronouncing such words he was writing without knowing it his own apology. Since his name is registered as never before in the mind and in the hearts of the forefronts of our youth. Albizu Campos lives. He lives in his illustrious example and in his archetypical posture of defy and resistance to the empire that rule us. It was useless attempting to incarcerate him, to silence him, to murder him. A principle is not incarcerated neither murdered. A cause can not be silenced. Symbols will live beyond the physical existence those who sustained it.

In certain hystorical moment in which everything seemed to be lost for the patriotic struggle, Albizu Campos represented before the eyes of the humanity the propriety of this people. As the apostle Martí well said: "When there are many men without dignity, there are some few that have inside the dignity of many men. These are those which are revolted with terrible force against those that intend to rob men their freedom, that it's their dignity". Combatant, intellectual, brilliant. Tribune of freedom, marthyr and hero of our fatherland independence, is found just the Father of the Fatherland issuing from immortality the famous war yell of the caborrojeño: "The great ones are not great but just because we are on knees. Let us stand up".

San Juan of Puerto Rico, January of 1971.

Taken from: "La conciencia nacional puertoriqueña".
Don Pedro Albizu Campos
Siglo XXI Editores, SA


Most recent revision: Feb 26, 2002.