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


The illustrious ponceño.

Pedro Albizu Campos, the historical personage is, in reality, contemporary Puerto Rico's history. With the elapsing of the time the real meaning of his patriotic management is enlarging and the force of his thought and his action starts already to be outlined in a definitive way in the conscience of our youths. His shade today is extended not only on his island but acquires continental and universal functions. And it couldn't be otherwise. Because beyond his martyrdom on behalf of Puerto Rico's independence, is found Albizu Campos the bearer and executor of a principle that it has collected universal validity in this century that we live: the principle of the fact that colonialism is condemned to disappear and the fact that all the peoples of the world have the right to be free. In that sense the illustrious ponceño was an early, a harbinger of the social forces that nowadays fight all over the world against colonialism and neocolonialism. In our people's national conscience development in the XX century, is located as a continuer of De Diego's great patriotic work and rescues the struggle for our independence and our nationality from the oblivion in which it had been sunk by the official politicians that were enjoying and yet enjoy the colonial allotment. The authentic national resistance spirit of our people will crystallize around his figure in the crucial decade of thirties. And then the sixth decade will find him in the role of waker-up that clamours in the desert created by those who had been exalted until power riding the comb of the independent wave for then to repeat, here; in Puerto Rico, the same follies and violations perpetrated in the metropolis by the ominous forces of the maccarthysm against evrything smelled like "left-wing" with the exception of the fact that those who were making such thing here were perpetrating it against those that were fighting for Puerto Rico's independence.

If the history of the peoples and their libertarian struggles would be written once and for all 'by whom certain historical and social circumstances have put on power positions, those that have made sacrifices and that have suffered persecution, jail and death for serving superior goals would be always relegated to the madmen and criminal roles. Fortunately the history of the peoples - as well as that of the humanity - are ready to be written. Many unpublished pages, many deliberate silences, many lies and half-truths we find daily in the official histories about those who have gone against the established order. But the historical claim does not delay in arriving. And it doesn't delay because the world that we live on is stage of the struggle between forces that intend to perpetuate humans exploited by humans and of some peoples over others and over those who work on behalf of the abolition of every system ;n of all system preached by such classes. Albizu Campos was spokesman and actor of these progressive forces, of those which nowadays represent the best interests in the immense most of the humankind. As far as Puerto Rico is also "part of the ball of the world", as De Diego used to say, our country is immersed in this fight to the death that has world projections. Albizu Campos as historiacl personage was the standard-bearer of all those forces within our society that conceived and yet conceive their interest solidarity with the underdeveloped third world peoples and against the world imperialistic system captained by the United States. It can be said in that sense that the nationalistic Albizu Campos ideology - as far as it's imperialistic at the same time - has an unquestionably internationalist dimension. Dimension that it's getting a greater meaning as far as time passes, Don Pedro Albizu after the radiations to which he was exposed to by the government of the USA specially when is compared with other figures managemet of current Puerto Rico.

Albizu Campos lives 73 years. It's a really extraordinary life and full of vicissitudes. In that life that starts on September 12th, 1891, in Ponce, we see reflected the dilemma and the destination of our people. Since it's in the case of the exceptional ability men as the Nationalistic Master that programs and perspectives of a society achieve to collect a more acute character, clearer. Albizu Campos dilemma is substantially our country's dilemma under North American domination: collaboration or no collaboration, turn over or resistence, cultural asimilation or assertion, colonialism or independence. Great sensibility man and with an acute intellect captures with perfect clarity that mystification and deceit prevent others to watch. His existential commitment with Puerto Rico's independence struggle is one of radical chacracter. His words: "In jail or in front of death we renew our votes of consecrate the cause of the country independence", published in the Puerto Rico magazine in September 1945, can serve as a means of summary concerning his commitment with the cause served him as the north of his life.

What Manrique Cabrera has called "the 98 trauma" and Pedreira the begining of the "indecision and transition" period in our history happens when the young Albizu Campos has seven years old. Without dubt he was too young in those days to know about Betances insurrectional labor, about Martí antillana solidarity, about Hostos fervently revolutionary genius. He couldn't neither know Muñoz Rivera oportunism, Barbosa y de Iglesias wormed anexionism, and the colnialistic surrender he would happily accept the new domination without realizing that, as Martí said;a Martí, "changing owner doesn't mean to be free". Albizu Campos had had Eugenio María de Hostos clamor when occurring what today some people designate with the euphemism of "sovreignty change" and that it wasn't nothing else but the beginning of the new colonization process of our country by the American empire. Hostos says in his Daily:

I felt towards it and with it its beauty and its misfortune. I was thinking about what noble might have been seen it free by itself, and in how sad and overwhelming and shameful is seeing to leave as owner without being of itself, and go from sovereignty to sovereignty without using its own... I was missing that fervent pleasure with which in the early days I breathed what I used to call breeze of the country, that seemed to me the most pure, the most regenerator, the most restoring of breezes: I missed the affection force with which I was loving my land: in reality, I was missing the fatherland. It wasn't, by the way, on account of the spanish flag, symbol that I had no lack; neither on account of the North American flag, symbol that, limited by time to represent the stability of live law, I wouldn't see without devotion; but it was because I wouldn't see in the things neither in the men the symbols and the national personality and of the social dignity feeling that I havn't seen fall, !!me, unhappy!, at the same hour in which after years of efforts, when I thought to see lifted by the force of the innate society, I see them fallen by faint of the force with which I had counted on.


Nevertheless, Albizu Campos doesn't delays in realize the problem planted by Hostos. His adolescence passed in Ponce. An anecdote of his youthful days says that when one of his high school teachers suggested a discussion about the independence Albizu replied: "Independence is not discussed, is made". Without doubt that was the beginning of his outlined revolutionary character. Later and as an award to his intellectual abilities he receives a scholarship from Ponce's Dawn Lodge ("Logia Aurora") to study in Vermont University. Upon exploding World War I, the illustrious ponceño or serves in the United States forced armies with the officer range. Later he arrives to Harvard where he studies his career of law. Returns to the island around the beginning of the third decade and inmediatly gets started into the public palaestra. Even since his Harvard years, the young Albizu conceives the need of Puerto Rico's independence. He had been influenced by the independent struggle of Ireland. Jorge Mañach describe us Albizu the following way:

He was a young man, of obscure complexion, extraordinarily cloudless and noble factions. Gently undulated hair, high cheekbones, a little moustache over the generous lip, a very labeled dimple in the chin... He had very brilliant eyes. He laughed very often, with a sound laugh that discovered a splendid denture... He had a natural counselor authority, sometimes, I must say it, a little too sure of himslef, too dogmatic. He discuted with an inflexible, accelerated logic, that I often found irritant because it seemed to me that he let the values zones most sensibles to aesthetics...

He was disciple of Betances, of Hostos and, in smaller degree, because he knows less about him, of Martí. The same as our patrician, he said he would write Bolívar's last strophe, he indicated that he was not thinking more about Cuba, already free, but about his Puerto Rico... Puerto Rico, indeed, could not have more destination than that of escaping from that people that didn't deigned to consult its historical will, upon ending the war against Spain. It asn't only about more or less "freedoms"; it was about reconquering the right to the own personality. Albizu had the feeling then that the struggle was going to be long, hard, and bloody. But he was speaking enthusiastically of the example of Ireland, that by those years was releasing a heroic struggle against England.

Those first twenty-something of years of NorthAmerican domination had contributed to confirm the prophetic Betances' words when he adverted against the possibility of the fact that Puerto Rico would be swallowed by the "North American" minotaur. The ephemeral reforms of the 1897 Autonomous Court had been ignored and, the Foraker (1900) and Jones (1917) laws imposed a colonial condition to the puertorrican people that practically was repudiated by every puertorrican - with the exception of the new "unconditionals" represented by the Annexationist Republican Party. The Union of Puerto Rico Party, established in 1904, was since its foundation the defender of the puertoricanist interests and the most powerful political party in the island. The illustrious aguadillan José De Diego had reached the incorporation in the Union program Fifth Base the solution of independence for the political @@status of Puerto Rico, though along with the formulation of autonomy and statehood as alternatives. Therefore De Diego - and later Matienzo Cintrón - carried on the singing voice of the fatherland independence opposite to the Muñoz Rivera fickle politics within the Union and opposite to the ultra annexationism represented by Barbosa. De Diego imposed to the imposition of the NorthAmerican citizenship over puertorricans contained in the Jones Law and maintains alive the independentist leadership opposite to the muñocista opportunism . But upon dying the illustrious aguadillan in 1918 the independent cause became orphan of its most firm leader and relapses in the power heir insecure hands within the Unión, once dead Muñoz Rivera: Antonio R. Barceló.

Return to Puerto Rico .

When Albizu Campos returns to the island he finds out that Barceló has discarded the independence of the Union Fifth Base and has embraced to a new concept called "Associate Free State". Moreover, he had given in to the purposes of governor Mont Reilly when this decided to deprive every independentist off their public posts. As consequence of this Barceló's action a group of unionists had abandoned the Union in order to found a new party: the Nationalistic Puerto Rico Party, founded in the New Theatre, of Rìo Piedras, September 17th, 1922. In certain moment Albizu Campos joins the Unionist Party but he abandoned it a little after and joined the Nationalistic Party. In this way, he'll explain his decision in an interview conceded to Los Quijotes (1926).

I have always believed in an open opposition to the colonial government and as none of the political parties, until 1921, didn't follow no cooperation tactics, I abstained me of taking part in any factional activity. Reilly (the colonial governor) provoked a general rebellion in the country, when he deprived the unionists of their posts in the government. I thought possible then the organization of a group that could openly combat the colonial regime. In memorable night, when the Central Board of the Unionist Party, I was peregrinating seeking the support of every good puertorrican opposite to the assaults of governor Reilly and those of the traitors of the Party, and when this collectivity couldn't have no one public post, I joined its ranks in order to reinforce its rebelliousness...

When the Party leadership, soon afterwards my entrance, resolved to respect the Northamerican government will, so that I wouldn't campaign more agaisnt separatism in Puerto Rico, I immediately withdrew and contributed to the foundation of the Nationalistic Party, integrated by the few patriots detachings there were in the unionists members.

It can be captured in this passage already with all clarity what would be the invariable norm of the nationalistic leader: war against colonialism, no cooperation with the regime.

Since that moment in future we could say that Albizu Campos returns De Diego's flag and lifts the independent cause of the place where the colonialists politicians by trade left it fall. Upon lifting once more time the independence cause of the place where it was relegated by those who didn't know how to continue the dieguista work, the Nationalistic Master established the essential continuity of the libertarian effort that had been sparked off by the first time the Father of the Fatherland, Dr. Ramón Emeterio Betances, upon leading the glorious geste that crowned with the Grito de Lares , September 23th, 1868.

It's a necessity to have clear that in that historical moment the Nationalistic Party is an organization created by a group of intellectuals concerned about the problem of cultural asimilation in Puerto Rico. Little afterwards the puertorrican Alliance - compound by the Union Party and the republicans that were following to Tous Sot - would go to the 1924 elections and would stay in the colonial power until 1932, when a Republicans Coalition called pure ( Martínez Nadal followers) and the Santiago Iglesias socialists wins the elections. It's not until, once the Alliance is dissolved, Barceló founds the Liberal Party (1931) that the independent cause comes back to be sustained by one of the principal political parties of the island. In a way such that during these two five-year periods(1921-1931) the Nationalistic Party would be the only one political organization defending the independence of our existing fatherland in the island.

Through America.

In 1925 Albizu Campos had been elect vice-president of the Nationalistic Party. It was determined that he had to depart in a periplus by the Latin America in order to receive help and support for Puerto Rico independence cause. Continuing the Betances, Hostos, Martí and De Diego antillan tradition , Albizu Campos is going to Santo Domingo, Haiti and Cuba. He interviewed there with the most prominent nationalistic and anti-imperislistic leaders. He knows of first hand the ignominy of the yankee military interventions that were suffering those peoples. It is not escaped to him/her/you the real nature of the calls "protectorados" American. Attentive what today it is designated "nationalism", will write then in The Nationalist their/its/your/his judgment: "Protected nation. Nation assaulted by the supposed protective. Such is the aphorism of the international life".

In Cuba pronounces a fiery speech against dictator Machado. He's forced to seek asylum in the Ambassy of Mexico and abandons the country. Juan Marinello, the great cuban writer describe us Albizu remembering his appearence of great orator:

It was in front of the masses when that small and fragil man enlarged his figure, and suddenly everybody became prisoner in the harangue. The powerful and original reasoning, in which which many readings, editions and nigth studies were discovered, has sustained in the passionate diction. The voice, that was intimately peaceable and evocative, should acquire in the tribune a metallic and vibrant tone arrived to the most distant listener as an orders bugle of which no one could appart. And as long as it was the speech, the tone remained the same, as a clamor that was starting of beyond; from the body in which it was born.

From Mexico he would go then to Peru. He seeks to establish contacts in Argentina. Just before the fourth decade returns to Puerto Rico. Returns with the knowledge of the fact that the struggle against the NorthAmerican imperialism must be a fight to th death. His meridian antiimperialist posture can already be noted in the interview conceded to the magazine Los Quijotes (1926) to which I have refered previously. A large extent it can be said that Albizu Campos is one of the harbingers of the Latin American antiimperialism and has a perfect clarity about such system nature much before than other thinkers of the hemisphere. At the same time, we emphasize the fact that Haya de la Torre and Maríategui in Peru, Vasconcelos in Mexico, the "generation of the 28" in Venezuela, Guiteras in Cuba, just to mention some few that I got on my mind, they were also diagnosing the alluded phenomenon and calling it by its name. As well as in the Nicaragua mountains the glorious soldier Augusto César Sandino was fighting, with the weapons in the hand, against the military occupation of his fatherland by the American naval infantrymen.

Albizu Campos had a perfect lucidity respect to the problem of colonialism and neocolonialism in the hemisphere - as well as in the topics concerning to the peculiar Puerto Rico situation within such context - and that's attested by the following statements made by him for the cited magazine:

Puerto Rico and the others Antilles constitute the battlefield between the yankee imperialism and the iberoamericanismo. The Ibero-American solidarity demands to cease any yankee meddling in this archipelago to restore the continental balance and to assure the independence of all the Columbian nations. Within this supreme need is indispensable our independence.

Our painful situation under the United States empire is the situation that NorthAmerica intends to impose to all the peoples of the continent. Our cause is the continental cause. The Ibero-American thinkers see clear the joint problem of Iberian America front to the yankee imperialism. If the NorthAmerican absorption in our land triumphes, the yankee conquest spirit will not have stop...

If the empire triumphes in our ambient it would be a strong blow for the Ibero-American race. It would be gravely injured its prestige and it would attract a yankee inasion, without moderation and to the death...

The Ibero-American preoccupation is not to defend Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, or any other republic of our blood. The continental preoccupation is to rip off the yankee boot of all the positions that occupies in the Caribbean.

              Español. More...

Most recent revision: Feb. 26, 2002.