Troops_in_Jayuya.     The National Guard, commanded by the Puerto Rico Adjutant General Major General Luis R. Esteves and under the orders of Gov. Luis Muñoz Marín, occupy Jayuya

Troops_in_Jayuya. The Nation­al Guard, com­mand­ed by the Puer­to Rico Adju­tant Gen­er­al Major Gen­er­al Luis R. Esteves and under the orders of Gov. Luis Muñoz Marín, occu­py Jayuya

The Jayuya Upris­ing, also known as the Jayuya Revolt or El Gri­to de Jayuya, refers to the revolt against the Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment which occurred on Octo­ber 30, 1950 in var­i­ous local­i­ties in Puer­to Rico, but most­ly based in the town of Jayuya, Puer­to Rico.

P. R. National guardsmen and undercover police fire back at Nationalists.

P. R. Nation­al guards­men and under­cov­er police fire back at Nation­al­ists.

Events leading to the revolt

On Sep­tem­ber 17, 1922, the Puer­to Rican Nation­al­ist Par­ty was formed. Jose Coll y Cuchi, a for­mer mem­ber of the Union Par­ty, was elect­ed its first pres­i­dent.  He want­ed rad­i­cal changes with­in the econ­o­my and social wel­fare pro­grams of Puer­to Rico.  In 1924, Pedro Albizu Cam­pos, a lawyer who once served in the U.S. Army dur­ing World War I as a Sec­ond Lieu­tenant, joined the par­ty and was named its vice pres­i­dent.  He believed that Puer­to Rico should be an inde­pen­dent nation even if it meant an armed con­fronta­tion.

By 1930, Coll y Cuchi depart­ed from the par­ty because of his dis­agree­ments with Albizu Cam­pos as to how the par­ty should be run.  On May 11, 1930, Albizu Cam­pos was elect­ed pres­i­dent of the Nation­al­ist Par­ty.

In the 1930s, the Unit­ed States-appoint­ed gov­er­nor of Puer­to Rico, Blan­ton Win­ship, and police colonel Rig­gs applied harsh repres­sive mea­sures against the Nation­al­ist Par­ty.  In 1936, Albizu Cam­pos and the lead­ers of the par­ty were arrest­ed and jailed at the Prince­sa Jail in San Juan and lat­er sent to the Fed­er­al Prison at Atlanta, Geor­gia.  On March 21, 1937, the nation­al­ists held a parade in Ponce and the police opened fire on the crowd in what was to become known as the Ponce Mas­sacre. Albizu Cam­pos returned to Puer­to Rico on Decem­ber 15, 1947 after spend­ing 10 years in prison.

jayuya-1950-4On June 11, 1948, the Unit­ed States appoint­ed Gov­er­nor of Puer­to Rico, Jesus T. Piñero, signed the infa­mous “Ley de la Mor­daza” (Gag Law) or Law 53 as it was offi­cial­ly known, passed by the Puer­to Rican leg­is­la­ture which made it ille­gal to dis­play the Puer­to Rican Flag, sing a patri­ot­ic song, talk of inde­pen­dence and to fight for the lib­er­a­tion of the island.  It resem­bled the anti-com­mu­nist passed in the Unit­ed States. On June 21, 1948, Albizu Cam­pos gave a speech in the town of Man­ati where nation­al­ists from all over the island and Jayuya were gath­ered in case there was an attempt by the police to arrest him.  Lat­er that month Cam­pos vis­it­ed Blan­ca Canales and her cousins Elio and Grise­lio Tor­reso­la, the nation­al­ist lead­ers of the town of Jayuya. Grise­lio soon moved to New York where he met and befriend­ed Oscar Col­la­zo.

Uprising

From 1949 to 1950, the nation­al­ists in the island began to plan and pre­pare an armed rev­o­lu­tion.  The rev­o­lu­tion was to take place in 1952, on the date the Unit­ed States Con­gress was to approve the cre­ation of the polit­i­cal sta­tus Free Asso­ci­at­ed State (“Esta­do Libre Asso­ci­a­do”) for Puer­to Rico.  The rea­son behind Albizu Cam­pos’ call for an armed rev­o­lu­tion was that he con­sid­ered the “new” sta­tus a colo­nial farce. Albizu Cam­pos picked the town of Jayuya as the head­quar­ters of the rev­o­lu­tion because of its loca­tion.  Weapons were stored in the Canales res­i­dence.

On Octo­ber 26, 1950, Albizu Cam­pos was hold­ing a meet­ing in Fajar­do when he received word that his house in San Juan was sur­round­ed by police wait­ing to arrest him.  He was also told that the police had already arrest­ed oth­er nation­al­ist lead­ers. He escaped from Fajar­do and ordered the rev­o­lu­tion to start.  On Octo­ber 27, the police in the town of Peñue­las, inter­cept­ed and fired upon a car­a­van of nation­al­ists, killing four.  On Octo­ber 30, the nation­al­ists staged upris­ings in the towns of Ponce, Mayagüez, Naran­ji­to, Areci­bo, Utu­a­do , San Juan Nation­al­ist attack of San Juan, and Jayuya.  The first bat­tle of the nation­al­ist upris­ings occurred dur­ing the ear­ly hours of the day of Octo­ber 29th, in the bario Macana of town of Peñue­las.  The police sur­round­ed the house of the moth­er of Meli­ton Muñiz the pres­i­dent of the Peñue­las Nation­al­ist Par­ty, under the pre­text that he was stor­ing weapons for the Nation­al­ist Revolt.  With­out warn­ing, the police fired upon the nation­lists and a fire­fight between both fac­tions ensued, which result­ed with the death of two nation­al­ists and six police offi­cers wound­ed.

In Jayuya, Canales and the Tor­reso­las led the armed nation­al­ists into the town and attacked the police sta­tion. A small bat­tle with the police occurred and one offi­cer was killed and three oth­ers wound­ed before the rest dropped their weapons and sur­ren­dered. The nation­al­ists cut the tele­phone lines and burned the post office. Canales led the group into the town square where the light blue ver­sion of the Puer­to Rican Flag was raised (it was against the law to car­ry a Puer­to Rican Flag from 1898 to 1952).  In the town square, Canales gave a speech and declared Puer­to Rico a free Repub­lic. The Unit­ed States declared mar­tial law in Puer­to Rico and sent the Puer­to Rico Nation­al Guard to attack Jayuya. The town was attacked by air by U.S. bomber planes and on land by artillery. Even though part of the town was destroyed, news of this mil­i­tary action was pre­vent­ed from spread­ing out­side of Puer­to Rico.  It was called an inci­dent between Puer­to Ricans. The town was held by the nation­al­ists for three days.

Grise­lio Tor­reso­la was in the Unit­ed States where, togeth­er with fel­low nation­al­ist Oscar Col­la­zo, he decid­ed to assas­si­nate Pres­i­dent Har­ry S. Tru­man.  On Novem­ber 1, 1950, they attacked the Blair House where Tor­reso­la and White House police offi­cer Leslie Cof­felt lost their lives.

P. R. National Guard return fire at Nationalists in Jayuya.

P. R. Nation­al Guard return fire at Nation­al­ists in Jayuya.

Aftermath

The top lead­ers of the nation­al­ist par­ty were arrest­ed, includ­ing Albizu Cam­pos and Blan­ca Canales, and sent to jail to serve long prison terms. Oscar Col­la­zo was arrest­ed and sen­tenced to death. His sen­tence was lat­er com­mut­ed to life impris­on­ment by Pres­i­dent Tru­man, and he even­tu­al­ly received a pres­i­den­tial par­don. The City of Jayuya con­vert­ed Blan­ca Canales house into a his­tor­i­cal muse­um.

The last major attempt by the Puer­to Rican Nation­list Par­ty to draw world atten­tion to Puer­to Rico’s colo­nial sit­u­a­tion occurred on March 1, 1954, when nation­list leader Loli­ta Lebron togeth­er with fel­low nation­al­ists Rafael Can­cel Miran­da, Irv­ing Flo­res and Andres Figueroa Cordero attacked the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Lebron and her com­rades were charged with attempt­ed mur­der and oth­er crimes.

Uploaded on Oct 29, 2010

Octo­ber 30 is the six­ti­eth anniver­sary of the 1950 Inde­pen­dence Revolt in Puer­to Rico by the island’s Nation­al­ist Par­ty. It marked the most sig­nif­i­cant attempt at armed rev­o­lu­tion in Puer­to Rico since the late nine­teenth cen­tu­ry. Democ­ra­cy Now! co-host Juan Gon­za­lez, who’s writ­ten exten­sive­ly on the upris­ing, dis­cuss­es its sig­nif­i­cance.