04 December 2016

Pedro Albizu Campos – Nationalist Party President - Speech January 1934

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

In 1930, Albizu became president of the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico. The Nationalists were dedicated to one overwhelming cause: achieving independence for Puerto Rico as quickly and unconditionally as possible. This included the reclamation of all Puerto Rican lands, the nationalization of all banks, the reinstatement of Spanish as the primary language of public school instruction, and the elimination of tariff payments to the United States.

This platform of unconditional independence became more compelling as the Great Depression swept through Puerto Rico, and hunger gripped the island. As the great Depression deepened, the US banks that controlled Puerto Rico’s sugar plantations cut wages all over the island. Starvation was rampant, and during the last six months of 1933, eighty-five strikes and protests erupted in the tobacco, needlework, and transportation industries. The bitterest conflict, however, was in the cane fields.

On January 11, 1934, Albizu, as head of the Nationalists Party, addressed a crowd of 6,000 people. Albizu spoke to the people for two hours about their work, their land, and their island. He recited “Puerto Rico, Puerto Pobre,” a poem by Pablo Neruda. El Emparcial ran his entire speech on its front page. When he finished, the crowd of 6,000 applauded for over five minutes and asked him to lead the workers through the bitter sugar cane strike. In a twentieth-century version of David versus Goliath, Albizu Campos and the Nationalists were waging a revolution against the most powerful nation in history.

Note: Google his speech, not easy to find, but worth reading once found.

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