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.

















constitution were crucial in the U.S. presentation to the U.N., the island electorate refrained from, or was not prodded into, voting heavily on the “constitutional referendum” of March 3, 1952. Turnout failed to reach 60% and, as on June 4, 1951, the question was settled by less than half of the total eligible electorate. The best way to evaluate the substance and impact of the constitutional arrangement “chosen” by the Puerto Rican people in 1952 is in light of the U.S. claims made in the U.N.

The Insular Police raided several dozen offices and homes, seized documents and recordings of Albizu’s speeches, and eleven days later arrested Albizu and eight other Nationalists. Lacking any evidence of murder or incitement to murder, the prosecution charged Albizu with conspiracy to overthrow the US government.37 The first jury of seven Puerto Ricans and five Americans failed to reach a verdict. Just before the retrial, at a cocktail party in the governor’s mansion, US Attorney Cecil Snyder

haircut, a loan, a drink, or a used refrigerator. They could do more business in the salón than in most banks. They would learn more there than from any newspaper. And they certainly had fun. During Vidal Santiago’s trial for treason, Governor Luis Muñoz Marín said, “Just open the door to this barbershop, and the lies pour out onto the street.”1 Vidal loved his salón, with its manly scent of pomades and neck powders and the pungent smells of witch hazel, Bay rum, and Lucky Tiger hair tonic. He

Ediciones Ciba, 2000). See also Letter to David Helfeld, Esq., Counsel to Human Rights Commission, “Information on Discrimination and Persecution for Political Purposes,” 1989, 49, as cited in Marisa Rosado, Pedro Albizu Campos: Las Llamas de la Aurora, 5th ed. (San Juan: Ediciones Puerto, 2008), 364. For information regarding the treatment of female prisoners in La Princesa, the Arecibo presidio, and the Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia, see Margaret Pour, “Puerto Rican Women

Research, and with his name appearing in all the contract documentation, Dr. Cornelius Rhoads bore professional responsibility for the protocols and results of this postirradiation syndrome study. However, a summary report for this project seems a model of deceit and denial. The report stated it was funded by US Army contracts DA-49-007-MD-533 and DA-49-007-MD-669, then by Armed Forces Special Weapons Project contract DA-49-146-XZ-037. The report then states that patients “received total body

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