16 December 2016

The Ponce Massacre – Palm Sunday March 21,1937

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

In support of jailed Albizu, the Nationalists had obtained parade permits. The street was full with nearly three hundred men, women, and children in their Sunday best, the men in straw hats and white linen suits, the ladies in flowery print dresses, and children playing all around. It looked like a festive afternoon in the park. The crowd cheered when eighty Cadets of the Republic, twelve Nurses, and a five-piece marching band arrived in support of the Republic of Puerto Rico.

Suddenly, the mayor of Ponce and the police captain jumped into the street and told everyone to go home; the parade was over. The permit had been revoked on the governor’s orders. The governor had also instructed to increase the police presence and prevent the demonstration by whatever means necessary.

Everyone started to march – permit or no permit. Then a shot rang out. Ivan Rodriguez Figueras crumpled like a rag doll, blood spurting from his throat with each dying heartbeat. Panicked screams and curses erupted as people ran in all directions, but they couldn’t escape. Two hundred men with rifles and Tommy guns were stationed all around them. They blocked every route and created a killing zone. They started firing.

A boy was shot on a bicycle. A father tried to shield his dying son and was shot in the back. In a contagion of panic and savagery, the police kept firing. They shot into several corpses again and again. They fired over the corpses. Bullets flew everywhere. The police climbed onto cars and running boards and chased people down the side streets, shooting and clubbing anyone they could find. They shot men, women, and children in the back as they tried to escape.

By the time they finished, nineteen men, one woman, and seven-year-old girl lay dead; over two hundred more were gravely wounded – moaning, crawling, bleeding, and begging for mercy in the street.

Ponce Massacre - Pedro Bull

No comments: