Remember the 1950 Uprising of
(also known as the Jayuya upraising)
by Carlos Rovira - "Carlito"
Reproduced by la Juventud Nacionalista
Puertorriqueña de Nueva York (JNP-NY)/ Puerto Rican Nationalist
Youth of New York
October 30th is the anniversary of the
1950 upraising (also know as Jayuya Uprising), a legacy of Puerto
Rican history in the 20th century. It was an armed battle that
began in the municipality of Jayuya and extended throughout Puerto
Rico, expressing the will of the people to fight for their national
liberation. Fighters of the Nationalist Party, determined to make
their dream of an independent republic come true, carried out
armed confrontations with U.S.-trained police and the National
Historic evidence shows us that the causes
for this event are rooted in the colonial presence of the United
States in Puerto Rico, which began with the U.S. military invasion
of the country 52 years previously. The Jayuya Uprising was the
response of the Puerto Rican people to the repression experienced
during this period. Brute force was used by the U.S. Government
to establish a colonial regime and to maintain its dominion over
The invasion and colonization of Puerto
Rico was motivated by the Economic interests of banks and corporations
owned by rich and politically powerful people in the United States.
During this period the United States and the other industrial
capitalist nations such as Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium,
the Netherlands, Denmark and Japan - maintained competitiveness
among themselves in the conquest for colonies. With the invasions
of the Philippines, Guam, Cuba and Puerto Rico, the U.S. became
an imperialist power. The Most economic and politically powerful
figures in the U.S. envisioned implementing a strategy for the
eventual control of the world, especially Latin America supported
by the Monroe Doctrine
This historical tendency did not proceed
unchallenged. Millions of people from all continents resisted
the savage exploitation by this system. In its beginning, the
imperialists did not realize they would have to face the resistance
of their victims, as millions of people from various lands rebelled
against foreign domination. The outcry for national liberation
was increasingly heard throughout world.
THE 1950 UPRISING (JAYUYA UPRISING)
Under the leadership of Dr. Pedro Albizu
Campos, the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, which advocated an
end to U.S. colonialism and the independence of Puerto Rico, gained
the respect and admiration of multiple sectors of the population.
Unlike its predecessor, the Unionist Party that advocated independence
early in its history but eventually withdrew that demand from
its program, the Nationalist Party unconditionally proclaimed
the inalienable right of the colonized people to independence.
The Nationalist Party also became known for advocating the right
of the colonized people to use any means necessary including the
use of arms, to win the independence of Puerto Rico. The revolutionary
impetus in Puerto Rico which is credited to the Nationalist Party
was the main target of the colonizers' repressive agencies as
they sought to destroy the independence movement.
Facing severe consequences, the Nationalist
party stood firm in its quest. When the progressive movement
in the U.S. experienced persecution in the late 1940's and early
1950's, the result of an anti-communist, anti-labor and racist
witch-hunts spearheaded by the notorious Senator Joseph McCarthy,
Puerto Ricans witnessed a more intense and brutal version of that
same repressive campaign. People in the United States hardly knew
that members of the Nationalist Party were systematically jailed
and assassinated in Puerto Rico. Laws were created that gave the
colonial police the "right" to gun down members of the
Nationalist Party in plain view, without provocation.
Although Washington wanted to give the
impression that these actions were executed exclusively by the
colonial government, that is, an "internal matter among Puerto
Ricans", the law mandated U.S. President Harry Truman to
take direct charge in all matters concerning Puerto Rico. In addition,
the presidential appointed colonial governor of Puerto Rico was
required to consult directly with the White House.
At the beginning of October 1950, the
intelligence of the Nationalist Party obtained information of
a secret government plan to eliminate the independence movement;
the tactics included banning the Nationalist Party, attacking
offices and homes, arresting all members of the party, especially
Pedro Albizu Campos. Washington officials sought to use "seditious
conspiracy" laws to silence the most militant individuals
with imprisonment and thus destroy the independence movement.
With knowledge of the imminent government
plan to repress its existence, the experience of the Massacre
of Río Piedras of 1935 and Ponce Massacre 1937, and having
no alternative but to demonstrate dignity and exercise their right
to self-defense, the Nationalist Party chose to take the initiative
in landing the first blow.
On the morning of October 30, 1950, a
young woman named Blanca Canales led an armed contingency of Nationalists
towards the city of Jayuya where they attacked the headquarters
of the colonial police. Once the Nationalists surrounded the police
station, a brief gun battle ensued. The civil employees of the
police were surprised and intimidated by the unexpected tenacity
of these patriots. The police were ordered to surrender their
arms and leave the building with their hands raised.
The people of Jayuya embraced the nationalists
with sympathy for their brave act. Surrounded by the residents
of the town, the freedom fighters raised the Puerto Rica flag
that was strictly prohibited by colonial law. With weapon in hand,
Blanca Canales prepared herself to address the crowd in the town
plaza. Canales began her speech, inspiring everyone by shouting
the solemn words of the historical fighter of Puerto Rico's independence,
"Que viva Puerto Rico libre!"She then defiantly declared
the independence of the Republic of Puerto Rico.
The decision to liberate Jayuya first
was due to its strategic location in the mountains at the center
of the island. It was thought that taking control of this municipality
first would cut the supply lines to the enemy and would slow down
troop reinforcements to the western portion of the island. Violent
clashes between the police and nationalists also occurred in Utuado,
Ponce, Mayagüez, Arecibo, Naranjito, Ciales, Peñuelas
and others towns. In San Juan, the police attacked the headquarters
of the Nationalist Party. Pedro Albizu Campos, Isabel Rosado and
others undertook an armed battle until they were overcome by tear
gas. The colonial government in San Juan imposed new repressive
measures throughout Puerto Rico, including martial law. Military
airplanes were deployed to bomb Jayuya in order to force the patriots
to surrender. 70 percent of the city was destroyed, the result
of the aerial bombing. The National Guard immediately pushed to
suppress the uprising and regain control of Jayuya.
Well aware of the potential political
impact news of the rebellion would have in the court of public
opinion throughout the world the U.S. government imposed a news
blackout of the situation in Puerto Rico. To silence the voice
of the emerging struggle, there was a gradual but intense effort
to twist the facts. In order to disguise the nature of events
Truman characterized the conflict as "between Puerto Ricans."
When Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola
were sent to the Blair House in Washington, D.C. by the Nationalist
leader Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos in order to assassinate President
Truman, it was indeed to refute the false notion of the nature
of the conflict before the world. Torresola was killed and Collazo
was critically wounded in a shootout with capital police and Truman's
THE MEANING OF JAYUYA
As Puerto Ricans rebelled with guns in
hand, anti-colonial struggles in Africa, Asia and Latin America
waged on. The Jayuya Uprising in Puerto Rico reflected the global
resistance of oppressed people who yearned for liberation as they
strove to break the domination of imperialism.
Although the efforts of the Nationalist
Party failed in expelling the colonial presence of the U.S. in
Puerto Rico, nevertheless a political victory was won, serving
as an example of revolutionary valor for generations to come.
This episode proved that colonial oppression will make popular
rebellion an inevitable outcome. It does not matter how great
the reach of the repressive arm of imperialism, it can never erase
from the minds of colonized people the pride of their national
identity and their revolutionary traditions.
What motivated the U.S. invasion and persistent
colonial domination of Puerto Rico was the desire to appropriate
the national wealth for the advantage of foreign corporative avarice.
The more U.S. capitalists invested into ventures in Cuba and Puerto
Rico during the 1890's, the louder the call for war with Spain.
This is why colonialism will show contempt
for the people it robs natural resources from; it is an international
system that can not prevent causing suffering to the inhabitants
in the lands it invades. The ambition to plunder wealth in former
Spanish colonies was also the driving force behind the U.S. military
invasion and occupation of Iraq today. But the injustices that
come with invasion and occupation by a foreign power will motivate
people to find ways to challenge the occupation. What else could
have been the cause for the fight that ensued in the island municipality
of Venues demanding an end to the bombing practices and the withdrawal
of the U.S. Navy?
One only needs to examine the chronology
of the atrocities committed by the U.S. government in Puerto Rico
to conclude that the abuses perpetuated by the U.S. Navy in Vieques
were just a continuation of colonial policy.
The U.S. government was apprehensive about
the great potential that the fight in Vieques had, to galvanize
the Puerto Rican people to rebellion. Such would explain why in
May of 2003 the U.S. Navy chose to shut down its target practice
range and other facilities on the island of Vieques. The hatred
that developed towards the U.S. Navy during that struggle is consistent
with the reasoning that many Puerto Ricans expressed towards the
U.S. colonizers at the hour of the Jayuya Uprising.
This is why the colonizers of Puerto Rico,
for their own reasoning of course, will also remember the Jayuya
Uprising. U.S. officials are well aware of the ability that colonized
people have. Puerto Ricans will apply the valuable lessons of
their history for an eventual struggle that will win their national
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