In Washington, Puerto Rican activists demand independence

Photo: El Frente

In the early hours of the morning of Sunday, Oct. 25, Puerto Rican independence organizations projected images on walls of emblematic places in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, with messages of “No to Statehood” and claiming “Freedom and Independence for Puerto Rico.”

One of the buildings onto which images were projected was the Trump International Hotel, located on Pennsylvania Avenue. The messages of “Free Puerto Rico,” “No to Statehood,” as well as “Independence for Puerto Rico,” among others, could be clearly read.

“The activity served a dual purpose. First, it is part of the Day of Celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Nationalist Revolution of Oct. 30, 1950, a historic event where the Republic of Puerto Rico was declared for the second time. This event was the result of a one-sided struggle carried out by the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico, led by Don Pedro Albizu Campos, against the United States government. 

“They sought to overcome colonialism and obtain independence for Puerto Rico, an unfinished feat that today has new social actors who have known how to pick up the flags of the struggle for national liberation, generation after generation,” said Jocelyn Velázquez of the organization Jornada Se Acabaron las Promesas.

“The insurrection of 1950, as it is also known, had different combat scenarios in the towns of Jayuya, Utuado, Arecibo, Peñuelas, Ponce, Mayagüez, San Juan and Santurce, among others. Also on Nov. 1 of 1950, fighting took place in the capital of the United States, when the Puerto Ricans Elio Torresola and Oscar Collazo attacked the Blair House, at that time the temporary residence of President Harry S. Truman. 

“The main mission was to draw the world’s attention to the situation of the colonial case of Puerto Rico, the repression that was unleashed against the Nationalist Party, the Independence Party and the entire set of the movement for national liberation and for social justice in Puerto Rico,” said John Meléndez Rivera, member of the El Grito collective from New York.

“The projections also have the purpose of carrying a clear message to the capital of the colonial power, that the people in Puerto Rico oppose colonialism, reject annexation and aspire to freedom, which can only be achieved by means of national independence, allowing us to join the community of free nations of the world and focus on building a new country, more supportive, just and equitable,” said Eric Ramos, president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Committee in New York.

“The heroic struggle of the Nationalists brought us here as a nation. The lack of respect, as Corretjer* said, of responding to Yankee imperialism with bullets from Jayuya to Washington in 1950, unleashed the cruelest persecution and barbarism imaginable. The fear created for independence is the reflection of the fear of imperial anger and the fury unleashed against our people. 

“Those who continued in the struggle, who were very few, took a long time and several new generations of Puerto Ricans to massify the rebellion. We are advancing along those roads 70 years later. The victory will be ours. We have a nation and we will have a free and sovereign homeland,” José Rivera Rivera, spokesman for the Socialist Front of Puerto Rico, pointed out.

The activity was coordinated by various organizations and fronts including the PIP New York Committee, Boricua Resistance Committees, El Grito, member organizations of the Frente Independentista Boricua of New York (El Frente), as well as the Socialist Front of Puerto Rico, the Jornada Se Acabaron las Promesas, the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement and the Revolutionary Party of Puerto Rican Workers-Macheteros. Projected images were created by graphic artist and member of El Frente, Luis Cordero Santoni.

*Juan Antonio Corretjer was a leader of the Nationalist Party and also recognized as Puerto Rico’s national poet.