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Famous Afro-Boricua: 'Pedro Albizu Campos'

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  • multiracialbookclub
    Pedro Albizu Campos [Pedro Albizu Campos] Pedro Albizu Campos (September 12, 1891 – April 21, 1965) was born
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2006
      Pedro Albizu Campos

      Pedro Albizu Campos 

      Pedro Albizu Campos
      (September 12, 1891 – April 21,
      1965) was born in Tenerías Village in Ponce , Puerto Rico
      was the son of Alejandro Albizu and Juana Campos.

      He was also the nephew of Juan Morel Campos,
      one of Puerto Rico 's greatest composers of danzas.

      Albizu was the leader and president of the Puerto
      Rican Nationalist Party and avid advocate of Puerto
      Rican independence from the United States .…

      Albizu felt that Puerto Rico deserved the
      same right as the United States and other
      countries had to fight for independence.

      Known as an energtic orator he is known
      also as El Maestro ("The Teacher").

      In 1912, Pedro was awarded a scholarship
      to study Engineering, specializing in
      Chemistry at the University of Vermont .

      In 1913 he continued his studies at Harvard University .

      Lieutenant Pedro Albizu Campos (U.S. Army)
      Lieutenant Pedro
      Albizu Campos
      (U.S. Army)

      At the outbreak of World War I, Pedro volunteered
      in the United States
      Infantry … where he was
      assigned to an African-American unit.

      During this time he was exposed to the racism of the
      day which left a mark in his beliefs towards the
      relationship of Puerto Ricans and the United States .

      In 1919, Albizu returned to Harvard University and was
      elected president of Harvard's Cosmopolitan Club.

      He met with foreign students and lecturers, like
      Chandra Bose
      (Indian Nationalist leader with Gandhi)
      and the Hindu poet
      Rabindranath Tagore.

      He became interested in the cause of
      and helped to establish several
      centers in
      Boston for Irish independence.

      He met
      Eamon de Valera and later became a consultant
      in the drafting of the constitution of the
      Irish Free State.

      He graduated from
      Harvard University obtaining
      a Law degree as well as degrees in Literature,
      Philosophy, Chemical Engineering and Military Science.

      He was fluent in English, Spanish, French,
      German, Portuguese, Italian, Latin and Greek.

      At the time he received job offers as Hispanic
      representative for a Protestant church, as a legal
      aide to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in the U. S.
      State Department's diplomatic corps in Mexico ,
      yet Albizu opted to return to Puerto Rico .

      Nationalist Campaign

      In 1919,
      José Coll y Cuchí, a member of the Union
      Party, felt that the party wasn't doing enough for
      the cause of Puerto Rico and he and some followers
      departed from the party and formed the Nationalist
      Association of Puerto Rico in San Juan .

      During that time there were two other organizations
      that were pro-independence, they were the Nationalist
      Youth and the Independence Association.

      On September 17, 1922, the three political
      organizations joined forces and formed
      the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party.
      José Coll y Cuchí was elected president of the party.
      In 1922, Albizu married Dr. Laura Meneses, a
      Peruvian whom he had met at Harvard University .
      Two years later in 1924 he joined the Puerto Rican
      Nationalist Party and was elected vice president.

      On May 11, 1930, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was
      elected president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party.

      In 1932, Albizu publishes a manuscript in which
      he exposes Doctor
      Cornelius P. Rhoades.

      In the manuscript Doctor Rhoades admits to killing Puerto
      Rican patients and injecting many with cancer cells as part
      of a medical experimentation conducted in San Juan 's
      Presbyterian Hospital for the Rockefeller Institute.

      This letter revealed the racist vision that some
      Americans harbored toward people-of-color.

      The Nationalist Party obtained poor results in the 1932
      election, but continued with their campaign to teach
      and unite the people behind a free Puerto Rico .

      At the same time, continued repression from the
      United States against
      Puerto Rican independence
      was now met with armed resistance.

      In 1934, Albizu represented sugar cane workers as a
      lawyer against the U.S. sugar and utilities monopolies.

      In 1935, four Nationalists were killed by the police under
      the command of Colonel E. Francis Riggs, the incident
      became known as the
      Río Piedras Massacre.

      San Juan Federal Court ordered the arrest of Pedro
      Albizu Campos and several other Nationalists for
      "seditious conspiracy to overthrow the
      U.S. Government in Puerto Rico ."

      A jury of seven Puerto Rican and five
      Americans voted 7 to 5 not guilty.

      Judge Cooper called for a new jury, this time
      with ten Americans and two Puerto Ricans
      and a guilty verdict was achieved.

      In 1937, a group of lawyers, including a young
      Gilberto Concepción de Gracia tried in vain to
      defend the Nationalists but, the Boston court
      of appeals, which holds jurisdiction over federal
      matters in Puerto Rico , upheld the verdict.

      Pedro Albizu Campos along with other Nationalist leaders
      were sent to the Federal penitentiary in Atlanta , Georgia .

      On March 21, a protest march was held in Ponce
      in which police opened fire on the crowd.

      Twenty-one unarmed marchers and bystanders as well as
      two policeman were killed, and 200 others wounded in
      what has become known as the
      Ponce Massacre.

      In 1947 Albizu returned to Puerto Rico and it was believed
      that he began preparing, along with other members of the
      Nationalist Party, an armed struggle against the proposed
      plans to change
      Puerto Rico's political status into
      commonwealth of the United States .

      Pedro Albizu Campos would be jailed again after
      the revolt of 1950 when a group of Puerto Rican
      nationalists staged a revolt in the island, known
      as the
      Jayuya Uprising (El Grito de Jayuya) ….

      Albizu Campos was arrested at his home
      after a brief shoot out with the police.

      Subsequently 3,000 independence supporters were arrested.

      In 1951 Pedro Albizu Campos was jailed
      and sentenced to eighty years in prison.

      Albizu was pardoned in 1953 by then governor Luis Muñoz
      Marín but the pardon was revoked the following year after
      the 1954 nationalist attack of the United States House
      of Representatives, when four Puerto Rican Nationalist,
      led by Lolita Lebron opened fire from the gallery
      of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. .

      Some members of Congress were wounded,
      one seriously; but no one was killed.

      The shooters did not resist arrest, claiming
      the action was to attract the world's attention
      to the US military occupation of Puerto Rico .

      Albizu refused to allow the police
      to enter his home in San Juan .

      A shootout occurred but he was later placed
      into custody in an unconscious state and
      jailed again at La Princesa in San Juan .

      Later Years and Death

      While in prison, Pedro Albizu Campos' health deteriorated.

      In 1956, he suffered a stroke in prison and was transferred
      to San Juan 's Presbyterian Hospital under police guard.

      He alleged that he was the subject of
      human radiation experiments in prison.

      Officials "suggested" that Albizu was insane --
      although others who attended him believe that burns
      on his skin where consistent with radiation-exposure.

      On November, 1964 Pedro Albizu Campos was again
      pardoned by outgoing governor
      Luis Muñoz Marín.

      Pedro Albizu Campos died on April 21, 1965.

      In 1994, under the administration of President
      Bill Clinton,
      United States Department of Energy disclosed that
      human radiation experimentation was conducted
      without consent on prisoners during the 1950's-1970's.

      It is still unclear if Pedro Albizu Campos was
      among the subjects of such experimentation.


      The extent of Albizu's legacy is generally
      the subject of -sometimes passionate-
      discussion by both accolytes and detractors.

      His followers state that Albizu's political and military
      actions served (even unintentionally) as a primer for
      positive change in Puerto Rico, these being the
      improvement of labor conditions for peasants and workers,
      a belated yet more accurate assessment of the colonial
      relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States
      by the political establishment in Washington, and a set
      of social and political conditions that led to positive change
      in the political -and eventually economic- environment
      prevailing in the country (even if other politicians, such as
      Luis Muñoz Marín, were the ones who reaped the political
      benefit of these changes while essentially burying the
      Puerto Rican independence movement in the process).

      Detractors denounce Albizu as a radical fascist,
      whose actions only brought turmoil to Puerto Rico .

      Some claim that the weak following of the Puerto Rican
      independence movement in the present day can be traced,
      if not to Albizu, to the repression that his actions brought
      upon the movement (which, during Albizu's lifetime,
      attained its best acceptance levels in Puerto Rican history).

      Albizu can be definitely credited, however, with
      preserving and promoting Puerto Rican nationalism
      and national symbols, at a time where they
      were virtually a taboo in the country.

      The formal adoption of the Puerto Rican flag as a national
      emblem by the Puerto Rican government can be traced to
      Albizu (even while he denounced this adoption as the
      "watering-down" of an otherwise sacred symbol into
      a "colonial flag"); the revival of public observance
      of the Grito de Lares and its significant icons
      was a direct mandate from him as leader
      of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party.

      Albizu was the most vocal and visible
      Puerto Rican
      of African descent 
      of his generation; Afro-Puerto Rican
      leaders of other political extractions (such as Ernesto
      Ramos Antonini and Jose Celso Barbosa) attained
      similar status only after facing (and
      enduring) considerable bouts with

      Albizu, while not exempt from it, confronted it
      head-on, and vehemently denouncing it publicly.

      Albizu's diagnosis of the colonial relationship between
      Puerto Rico and the United States earned him prison time,
      yet modern scholars take surprise at how accurate the
      diagnosis is, even years after Albizu's death.

      Finally, his political philosophy persists to this
      day, synthesized in quotes and verbal images.

      An alternative high school in Chicago , called the
      Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School,
      is located in the Puerto Rican Cultural Center .

      There, students learn about Puerto Rican history and
      culture, in the context of local community development.

      Archives there include original letters, representations
      of Albizu Campos in sculpture and art, as
      well as other material related to his life.

      Additionally, five public schools in Puerto Rico
       are named after him, as well as numerous streets
      in most of Puerto Rico 's municipalities.

      In 1976, Public School 161 in Harlem in
      New York City was named after him as well.


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