06 December 2016

Albizu Meets Chief of Police Riggs – January 1934

War Against All Puerto Ricans by Nelson Denis, 2015, Excerpts

A few days after the speech, Colonel Riggs, the police chief of Puerto Rico, invited Albizu Campos to lunch at the El Escambron Beach Club. Albizu had already heard about Riggs, the heir to the Riggs National Bank fortune, a Yale-educated gentleman. Throughout Central America the Riggs National Bank was suspected of laundering money for right-wing dictators, bribing entire legislatures, destabilizing populist regimes, and financing military coups disguised as “revolutions” on behalf of the United Fruit Company. Riggs had just come from Nicaragua, where he’d been advising a budding dictator named Anastasio Somoza, who, one month later, on February 21, 1934, would assassinate Augusto Sandino.

Riggs tripled the size of the Insular Police force and armed its officers with grenade launchers, machine guns, carbines, and 12-guage shotguns. In addition, he recruited over a hundred FBI agents to follow Albizu all over the island and infiltrate the Nationalist Party.

On January 18, 1934, one week after his speech, Albizu met with Riggs. Riggs offered to donate $150,000 to the Nationalist Party, to ensure that Albizu won the Senate seat that year or in 1936, and to make Albizu governor of Puerto Rico within ten years. In exchange, Albizu would back down and lets Riggs take care of the strike. Albizu told him Puerto Rico was not for sale, at least not by him.

In January 1934, the Nationalist Party led an agricultural strike that paralyzed the island’s sugar economy for a full month. Alarmed US corporations and sugar syndicates cabled President Roosevelt that “a state of actual anarchy exists. Towns in state of siege, police impotent, business paralyzed.”

Note: Google Police Chief Riggs and it hits memorials of fallen law enforcement. The man was a brutal tyrant, not to be memorialized.

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