Puerto Rican Nationalist Party

Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
PresidentAntonio (Toñito) Cruz Colón
FoundedSeptember 17, 1922
Armed wingCadets of the Republic
IdeologyPuerto Rican independence
ColorsBlack and White

Notable past presidents
*José Coll y Cuchí
*Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos

The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party (Spanish: Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico, PNPR) is a Puerto Rican political party which was founded on September 17, 1922. Its main objective was to work for Puerto Rican independence. The election in 1930 of Pedro Albizu Campos as its president of the Nationalist Party brought a radical change to the organization and its tactics.

In the 1930s, intimidation, repression and persecution of Party members by the government, then headed by a U.S. president-appointed governor, led to the assassination of two government officials, the attempted assassination of a federal judge in Puerto Rico, and the Rio Piedras and Ponce massacres. Under the leadership of Albizu Campos, the party abandoned the electoral process in favor of direct armed conflict as means to gain independence from the United States.

By the late 1940s, a more US-friendly party, the Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico, had gained an overwhelming number of seats in the legislature and, in 1948, it passed "Puerto Rico's Gag Law", which attempted to suppress the Nationalist Party and similar opposition. The Puerto Rican police arrested many Nationalist Party members under this law, some of whom were sentenced to lengthy prison terms. With a new political status pending for Puerto Rico as a Commonwealth, Albizu Campos ordered armed uprisings in several Puerto Rican towns to occur on October 30, 1950. In an related effort, two Nationalists also attempted to assassinate US President Harry S. Truman on November 1, 1950, in an effort to call international attention to issues related to Puerto Rico's political status, but the attempt failed. The last major armed event by the Nationalists occurred in 1954 at the US House of Representatives when four party members shot and wounded five Congressmen.

After Albizu Campos's death in 1965, the party dissolved into factions and members joined other parties, but some continue to follow the party's ideals in one form or another, often informally or ad hoc, to this day.[1]

Historical context

Charles Herbert Allen, the first sugar baron of Puerto Rico

After four hundred years of colonial domination under the Spanish Empire, Puerto Rico finally received its sovereignty in 1898 through a Carta de Autonomía (Charter of Autonomy). This Charter of Autonomy was signed by Spanish Prime Minister Práxedes Mateo Sagasta and ratified by the Spanish Cortes.[2] Despite this, just a few months later, the United States claimed ownership of the island as part of the Treaty of Paris which concluded the Spanish–American War.

Opponents to the colonial government argued that the profits generated by this arrangement were one-sided, enormous for the United States.[citation needed]

When the war ended, U.S. President McKinley appointed Charles Herbert Allen as the first civilian governor of Puerto Rico. Though Allen had a business background, his financial administration of Puerto Rico was strikingly unsound. He ignored the appropriation requests of the Puerto Rican House of Delegates, refused to make any municipal, agricultural or small business loans, built roads at double the costs of preceding administrations, and left 85% of the school-age population without schools. Rather than making these requested infrastructure and education investments, Allen's budget raided the Puerto Rican treasury. His administration re-directed tax revenues to no-bid contracts for U.S. businessmen, railroad subsidies for U.S.-owned sugar plantations, and high salaries for U.S. bureaucrats in the island government.[3][4]

Allen's financial acumen improved considerably when he returned to the U.S., and resumed his own personal business interests. In 1901, Allen resigned as governor and installed himself as president of the largest sugar-refining company in the world, the American Sugar Refining Company. This company was later renamed as the Domino Sugar company. In effect, Charles Allen leveraged his governorship of Puerto Rico into a controlling interest over the entire Puerto Rican economy.[5]

In 1914, the Puerto Rican House of Delegates voted unanimously for independence from the United States. In 1917, the US Congress passed an act by which it granted citizenship to Puerto Rican residents. This was overwhelmingly opposed by the island's political leaders. Critics said the US was simply interested in increasing the size of its conscription pool to get soldiers for World War I.[6]