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Puerto Rican Political Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MSS 0560

Scope and Content

The collection contains posters, newsletters, newspapers, and documents related to the struggle for Puerto Rican independence. Most of the materials are related to different organizations in the United States that demand the release of Puerto Rican political prisoners and support the independence of Puerto Rico. The organizations included are:

Puerto Rican Solidarity Committee - Founded in 1975 as a national anti-imperialist organization dedicated to building support within the United States for Puerto Rican independence and their right to self-determination.

Carlos Feliciano Defense Committee - Carlos Feliciano was a former member of the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico and a political prisoner accused of 41 bombings in New York in the 1970s.

National Committee to Free Puerto Rican Prisoners of War - Main Puerto Rican organization in the United States to mobilized in support of prisoners of wars during the 1980s.

Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa, and Latin America (OSPAAAL) - Established in 1966, following the Tricontinental Conference held in Havana. The organization advocated for social justice and solidarity with various oppressed countries.

The collection contains a bilingual newspaper published by the Young Lords called "Pa’lante". The Young Lords was a Puerto Rican political and social action organization that began on the streets of Chicago and New York City in the late 1960s. Their main objective was to improve the social conditions of Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and other historically oppressed people in the United States, as well as to support Puerto Rican independence.

The collection also includes one poster from the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. The institute was created in 1955, its mission is to research, preserve, promote, enrich and diffuse Puerto Rican culture.

Dates

  • 1954-1991

Language of Materials

Includes materials written in Spanish and English.

Access

The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Puerto Rico was colonized by Spain in 1493, and in 1898 the United States invaded the archipelago. Throughout its 500 years of colonization, there have been fights against oppression, the right to self-determination, and independence for Puerto Rico.

On September 23, 1868, one of the most significant rebellions against Spanish rule took place, known as El Grito de Lares or Lares Uprising, led by Dr. Ramón Emeterio Betances and Segundo Ruiz Belvis. In the revolt, hundreds of people took the city of Lares, imprisoned Spanish leaders and merchants, the flag of Lares made by Mariana Bracetti was raised for the first time, the Republic of Puerto Rico was declared and a government composed only of Puerto Ricans was appointed. Although it only lasted one day, this was the first major uprising of Puerto Ricans against Spain, and represents the highest expression of the national conscience of the Puerto Rican people.

In September 1922, the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico (Partido Nacionalista Puertorriqueño) was founded, their main purpose was the independence of Puerto Rico. In May 1930, Pedro Albizu Campos was elected its president, under his leadership, the liberation movement reached its national peak. Albizu Campos fought for the liberation of Puerto Rico and to end the colonial status imposed by the United States. As a result, the United States and the local colonial administration implemented severe repressive measures against Puerto Rican nationalists and the independence movement.

In October 1935, a student protest was held at the University of Puerto Rico in support of the workers' strikes. Five nationalist students traveling in a car were shot by the police. Four of them died, as well as an innocent bystander. The police claimed self-defense in this event, known as the Río Piedras Massacre. In March 1937, the Nationalist Party held a parade in the town of Ponce to commemorate the abolition of slavery, celebrate Palm Sunday, and protest the imprisonment by the United States of Pedro Albizu Campos on sedition charges. The government revoked the municipal permit they had to hold the parade and began firing into the demonstrators, killing 19 people and wounding 200 civilians, including women, children, and spectators. This event is known as the Ponce Massacre. In 1948, the Gag Law (Ley de Mordaza) was enacted, making it a crime to own or display a Puerto Rican flag, speak or write about independence, or hold any assembly in favor of Puerto Rican independence. During this time, the FBI carried out the Counter Intelligence Program (Cointelpro), a surveillance project called "carpetas", to monitor, infiltrate, discredit, and disrupt political organizations it classified as "subversive."

During the 1950s after years of persecution and oppression, the Nationalist Party started a series of armed revolts throughout various cities in Puerto Rico and the United States, calling for Puerto Rican independence and to end colonialism. On March 1, 1954, four nationalists: Lolita Lebrón, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Andrés Figueroa Cordero, and Irvin Flores Rodríguez, attacked the U.S. House of Representatives to call attention to Puerto Rico’s independence cause. Five members of congress were wounded. The four nationalists were tried and convicted in federal courts and sentenced to long prison terms.

As a result of colonialism, Puerto Ricans have migrated to the United States in large numbers since the 1950s to the present, mainly to survive the recurring crises. During the late 1960s and 1970s, Puerto Ricans in the United States established different organizations in support of Puerto Rican causes, such as the right to self-determination and independence of Puerto Rico. This diaspora has been essential in supporting Puerto Rican interests and human rights.

Extent

0.67 Linear Feet (2 boxes, 7 oversized posters)

Abstract

Posters, newsletters, newspapers, and documents related to the struggle for Puerto Rican independence.

Arrangement

The collection in arranged in alphabetical order.

Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

Purchased in 2020 and 2021.

Related Materials

Latin American and Caribbean Special Collections: Puerto Rico Radical Literature.

Ruth M. Reynolds Papers, at Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora, Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños Archives, Hunter College, CUNY.

Young Lords Newspaper Collection, at DePaul University Library, Chicago IL.

Palante (1970 - 1976), at New York University Library.

Title
A Guide to the Puerto Rican Political Collection
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid created by Nelissa E. Caraballo-Ramos
Date
January 2022
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

Contact:
George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America
352-273-2755