The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party commemorated yesterday the 73rd anniversary of the Ponce Massacre, one of the foremost instances of political repression by United States governors in Puerto Rico in the first half of the 20th century. Before a gathering of about 150 supporters of the Nationalist Party who came ot Marina Street in the southern city of Ponce, the site of the massacre, the president of the Party, Rosa Meneses Albizu-Campos, acknowledge that the independence ideal had failed to move Puerto Ricans towards working for a joint political project and expressed her fears that the continued focus on the island’s political status could end up pushing the nation towards a new and more dangerous colonial situation. “The nation is slipping through our fingers and history is going to leave us behind while we continue to be absorbed by unimportant conflicts, she said, adding that it is necessary that all those inclined towards supporting independence sit down for a dialogue, respecting ideologies, tactics and strategies, to create a National Development Plan to move towards independence.
The commemoration was dedicated to Antonio (Toñito) Cruz Colón, a former Nationalist prisoner freed in 1972 by then-governor Luis A. Ferré, after spending 22 years jailed for his part in the 1950 Jayuya insurrection. “This is another step in the defense of the nation,” he told Inter News Service (INS). Wilson Cortés, the keynote speaker, described the Massacre as “the greatest criminal act committed by the government of the United States,” an attach with machine guns, rifles and pistols against unarmed militants and innocent bystanders just returning home from Sunday mass.
Former political prisoner Lolita Lebrón sent a message in which she underscored that although material conditions are different today than they were in 1937, she was not “calling to the people to spill their blood, but simply to awaken to its political reality.”
As is customary, the group marched to the Our Lady of Guadalupe cathedral and from there to Ponce’s Civil Cemetery for the placing of the traditional wreath at the mausoleum that holds the martyrs of the Nationalist Movement.
The Ponce Massacre took place on March 21, 1937, a Palm Sunday, when the Nationalist Party organized a march to commemorate the end of slavery in 1873 and protest the jailing of Nationalist leader Pedro Albizu Campos by U.S. authorities on the island. A hundred people were wounded, nineteen of whom died, together with two policemen shot by fellow police officers in the crossfire. No police officer was punished for the massacre nor were the wounded or dead offered apology or compensation.
The activity counted with the support of the Museo de la Masacre, open to visitors on weekends.
For more from the original report, in Spanish, go to http://www.primerahora.com/diario/noticia/politica/noticias/partido_nacionalista_conmemora_el_73_aniversario_de_la_masacre_de_ponce_convocando_a_la_unidad_independentista/375875