Puerto Rican Nationalist Party

Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
President Francisco Torres
Founded September 17, 1922
Ideology Puerto Rican Independence
Official colors Black and White

Notable past presidents
*José Coll y Cuchí
*Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos
Puerto Rican Nationalist Party Series
Flag of Puerto Rico (Light blue).svg

Flag of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party.svg
Flag of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
Jose Coll y Cuchi

The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party was founded on September 17, 1922. Its main objective is to work for Puerto Rican Independence.

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 and he and some followers left it to form the Nationalist Association of Puerto Rico in San Juan. Under Coll y Cuchí's presidency, the Party was able to convince the Puerto Rican Legislative Assembly to approve an Act that would permit the transfer of the mortal remains of 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, Puerto Rico, on August 5, 1920, and a funeral caravan organized by the Nationalist Association transferred the remains from the San Juan to the town of Cabo Rojo where his ashes were interred by his monument. At that time there were two other pro-independence organizations in the Island: the Nationalist Youth and the Independence Association.

On September 17, 1922, these three political organizations joined forces and formed the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party and Coll y Cuchi was elected president and José S. Alegría (father of Ricardo Alegria) vice-president. In 1924, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos joined the party and was named vice-president. 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 abandon the party and return to the Union Party. On May 11, 1930, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was elected president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party.

Under Albizu's leadership during the years of the Great Depression, the party became the largest independence movement in Puerto Rico. However after disappointing electoral results and strong repression by the territorial police authorities, by mid 1930s Albizu opted against electoral participation and advocated violent revolution.


Nationalist Party during 1930–50

Nationalist Party partisans were involved in a variety of dramatic and violent confrontations during the 1930-50s:

  • 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 emblem used during the Grito de Lares. During a melée in the building, one partisan fell from a second floor interior balcony to his death. The protest was condemned by the legislators, Rafael Martínez Nadal and Santiago Iglesias; while the spirit of local empowerment found some support in unlikely places such as 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, killed 4 Nationalist partisans and one policeman. 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. The event is known as the Río Piedras massacre.
  • On February 23, 1936, the insular police chief, E. Francis Riggs, was murdered in San Juan as he exited the Cathedral on Cristo Street. The perpetrators, two Nationalists named Hiram Rosado and Elías Beauchamp, were arrested, transported to police headquarters, and executed within hours without trial. No policeman was ever tried or indicted for their deaths.
The Ponce Massacre. Police open fire on marchers and bystanders.
  • On March 21, 1937, a peaceful march organized in the southern city of Ponce by the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party turned into a bloody event when the Insular Police[1] ("a force somewhat resembling the National Guard of the typical U.S. state" and which answered to the U.S.-appointed governor Blanton Winship[2]) opened fire upon what a U.S. Congressman and others reported were unarmed[3] and defenseless[4] cadets and bystanders alike[5][6] killing 19 and badly wounding over 200 more,[7] many in their backs while running away.[8][9] An ACLU report declared it a massacre[10] 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.[11] Soon thereafter, the leadership of the Nationalist party, including Pedro Albizu Campos, was arrested. After a second trial, they were incarcerated for conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States.
External audio
You may watch newsreel scenes of the Ponce Massacre here
and view a portion of the Albizu Documentary Trailer made in English here.

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 Pinero, Emilio Belaval, Jose Davila Rice, Antonio Ayuyo Valdivieso, Manuel Diaz Garcia, and Franscisco M. Zeno, concluded that the events on March 21 constituted a massacre. The report harshly criticized the repressive tactics and massive civil rights violations by the administration of Governor Blanton Winship.[12]

After viewing the picture of the massacre taken by Carlos Torres Morales, Hayes in his report to the American Civil Liberties Union wondered why the government in its investigation did not use the photograph which was among two that were widely published. According to Hayes, in the photograph it can be observed that 18 armed policeman at the corner of Calle (Street) Aurora and Marina were ready to fire against a group of innocent bystanders. The image also showed the white smoke coming out of the barrel of a policemans revolver as he fired upon the people. His Committee was unable to understand why the pictured policeman and the others fired directly at the crowd and not at the Cadets.[13]

  • On July 25, 1938, the municipality of Ponce organized celebrations to celebrate 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, slaying Police Colonel Luis Irizarry, who was seated beside the governor. Despite total repudiation of involvement or support of the incident by Nationalist interim president M. Medina Ramírez, numerous nationalists were arrested and convicted of participating in the shooting. Soon afterward, two Nationalist partisans attempted to assassinate Robert Cooper, judge of the Federal Court in Puerto Rico.
  • On June 11, 1948, the U.S.-appointed governor of Puerto Rico, Jesús T. Piñero, under pressure from the United States signed the infamous "Ley de la Mordaza" (Gag Law) or Law 53 as it was officially known, passed by the Puerto Rican legislature which made it illegal to display the Puerto Rican flag, sing a patriotic song, talk of independence, or to fight for the liberation of the Island. It resembled the anti-communist Smith Law passed in the United States.[14]
External audio
You may listen to one of the speeches made in Spanish by Albizu Campos here
External audio
Newsreel scenes in Spanish of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party Revolts of the 1950s
Newsreel scenes in English of the assassination attempt on U.S. President Harry S Truman
Newsreel scenes in Spanish and in English of the attack on the U.S. Capitol led by Lolita Lebrón
  • On October 30, 1950, with Albizu now free, and the new autonomist Commonwealth status soon to be enacted, a Nationalist uprising occurred. It involved a dozen or so skirmishes throughout the Island. The first battle of the nationalist uprisings occurred during the early hours of the day of October 29, in the bario Macaná of town of Peñuelas. The police surrounded the house of the mother of Melitón Muñiz, the president of the Peñuelas Nationalist Party, under the pretext that he was storing weapons for the Nationalist Revolt. Without warning, the police fired upon the nationalists and a firefight between both factions ensued, which resulted on the death of two nationalists and the wounding of six police officers.[15] 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.[16] The Utuado Uprising culminated in the Utuado Massacre by the local police. There was an attempt by a handful of nationalists to enter the Governor's mansion, La Fortaleza, in what is known as the Nationalist attack of San Juan, intending to attack then-governor Luis Muñoz Marín. The five-hour shootout resulted in the death of four Nationalists: Domingo Hiraldo Resto, Carlos Hiraldo Resto, Manuel Torres Medina and Raimundo Díaz Pacheco and three guards at the compound seriously wounded. Various other shootouts took place throughout Island, including Mayagüez, Naranjito, Arecibo and Ponce where Antonio Alicea, Jose Miguel Alicea, Francisco Campos (Albizu Campos 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 violation of the Insular Firearms Law.[17]
  • On November 1, 1950, there was an unsuccessful attempt by Griselio Torresola and Óscar Collazo to assassinate U.S. President Harry S. Truman, then residing at the Blair House in Washington, D.C.
  • On March 1, 1954, Lolita Lebrón together with fellow Nationalists Rafael Cancel Miranda, Irving 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 Congressman, Alvin Bentley from Michigan, was seriously wounded. Upon being arrested, Lebrón yelled "I did not come to kill anyone, I came to die for Puerto Rico!".


After Albizu's death in 1965, the party split, and some factions opted to join with socialist movements. The New York Junta (board)[1] is an autonomous organ of the party that recognizes and is recognized by the National Junta in Puerto Rico. The vast majority of followers of independence movements in Puerto Rico belong to either the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) or other smaller organizations as the Hostosian National Independence Movement.

Photo gallery

See also


  1. ^ "Law Library Microform Consortium". Llmc.com. http://www.llmc.com/TitleLLMC.asp?ColID=3&Cat=136&TID=7037&TName=Ponce%20Massacre,%20Com.%20of%20Inquiry,%201937. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Civil Rights in Puerto Rico. The Commission, 70p, np, May 22, 1937". Llmc.com. http://www.llmc.com/TitleLLMC.asp?ColID=3&Cat=136&TID=7037&TName=Ponce%20Massacre,%20Com.%20of%20Inquiry,%201937. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Law Library". Llmc.com. http://www.llmc.com/TitleLLMC.asp?ColID=3&Cat=136&TID=7037&TName=Ponce%20Massacre,%20Com.%20of%20Inquiry,%201937. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  4. ^ Don Luis Sanchez Frasquieri, President of the Ponce Rotary Club at the time
  5. ^ "The "police riot" shot at the demonstrators as well as the crowd standing by". Llmc.com. http://www.llmc.com/TitleLLMC.asp?ColID=3&Cat=136&TID=7037&TName=Ponce%20Massacre,%20Com.%20of%20Inquiry,%201937. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  6. ^ "US Congressman Vito Macartonio". Cheverote.com. http://www.cheverote.com/reviews/marcantonio.html. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Over 200 were wounded". Cheverote.com. http://www.cheverote.com/reviews/marcantonio.html. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  8. ^ Antonio de la Cova. "Photos of police shooting with rifles (from positions previously occupied by marchers and bystanders) at bystanders running away". Latinamericanstudies.org. http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/ponce-1937.htm. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  9. ^ Five Years of Tyranny, Speech before the U.S. House of Representatives. The entire speech is contained in the Congressional Record of August 14, 1939. It is reported in the Cong. Rec., and various other publications elsewhere, that among those shot in their backs was a 7-year-old girl, Georgina Maldonado, who "was shot in the back while running to a nearby church"
  10. ^ "Report of the ACLU as echoed by U.S. Congressman Vito Marcantonio". Cheverote.com. http://www.cheverote.com/reviews/marcantonio.html. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  11. ^ Latino Americans and political participation. ABC-CLIO. 2004. ISBN 1851095233. http://books.google.com/books?id=CKf8_WF7ppEC&pg=PA105&dq=ponce+massacre&as_brr=3#PPA105,M1. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  12. ^ American Gunfight: The Plot to Kill Harry Truman—And the Shoot-Out That Stopped It. Simon and Schuster. 2005. ISBN 0743281950. http://books.google.com/books?id=5b2dnzu54ZEC&pg=PA179&dq=Ponce+massacre&as_brr=3. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  13. ^ ""Latino/A Thought: Culture, Politics, and Society"; by Francisco H. Vazquez; page 398; Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.; ISBN 978-0742563551". Google Books. September 1, 1993. http://books.google.com/books?id=w5mB2mY-ac4C&pg=PT441&lpg=PT441&ots=exXvLFyVsr&dq=Ponce+Massacre+photo+taken+by&ie=ISO-8859-1&output=html. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Puerto Rican History". Topuertorico.org. January 13, 1941. http://www.topuertorico.org/history5.shtml. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  15. ^ El ataque Nacionalista a La Fortaleza. by Pedro Aponte Vázquez. Page 7. Publicaciones RENÉ. ISBN 978-1-931702-01-0
  16. ^ http://nylatinojournal.com/home/puerto_rico_x/history/puerto_rico_s_october_revolution.html
  17. ^ "Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico-FBI files" (PDF). http://www.pr-secretfiles.net/binders/SJ-100-3_18_018_152.pdf. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 

Pagán, Bolívar. Historia de los Partidos Politicos Puertorriqueños 1898–1956. San Juan: Librería Campos, (1959).

External links

Flag of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party.svg  Gallery of notable Puerto Rican Nationalist Party leaders  Flag of Puerto Rico (Light blue).svg

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