Puerto Rican Nationalism, an essay by Pedro Albizu Campos
Puerto Rican Nationalism
The republic was founded sixty-eight years ago. When on September 23, 1868, our ancestors proclaimed our independence from Spain, they solemnly affirmed that the revolution was founded on no complaint against our motherland.
Puerto Rico was rich in name and in reality. Our Christian heritage had created a model family and a solid society. The nation was in the vanguard of modern civilizations.
Great men in all fields of human conquest brought honor to the land of their birth. Privileged intellects like Stahl and Tanguis in the natural sciences; Morel Campos, the musical genius; Oller and Campeches, masters of painting; great thinkers like Hostos; poets inspired by pure spirituality like Gautier Benitez; great seamen like Admiral Ramon Power; fighters for the freedom of the new world like Marshal Valero and General Rius Rivera; noble statesmen and patriots like Betances; and spiritual leaders of a generous, hospitable and peaceful nation like Bishop Arizmendi.
It was these prestigious figures from among the legions of great men and women of a nation who, for three centuries, served as a foundation for the expansion of Christian civilization in the Americas.
It must not be forgotten that an expedition from Puerto Rico under the command of Ponce de León planted the cross on the North American continent in 1531, a hundred years before the founding of Jamestown, Virginia.
The founders of the republic in 1868 fought only for the principle that no nation shall be master over the destiny of another nation.
This principle is the basis of international law and universal civilization and cannot be violated under any pretext.
It is the principle of human dignity formulated so that it applies to the family of nations.
Spain, the motherland, the founding hidalgo of modern universal civilization, recognized this fundamental principle of international relations as our forefathers of 1868 explained it, and conceded to Puerto Rico the Autonomous Magna Carta by virtue of which relations between Spain and Puerto Rico were to be regulated through treaties, thus recognizing our country as a sovereign, free, and independent nation.
This recognition of our place in the family of free nations was irrevocable and binding on all powers and could never be placed at the mercy of the vicissitudes of our motherland’s or any other wars.
The Treaty of Paris, imposed by force on Spain by the United States on April 11, 1899, is null and void as pertains to Puerto Rico. For this reason, the military intervention of the United States in our fatherland is simply one of the most brutal and abusive acts perpetrated in contemporary history.
We demand the withdrawal of the armed forces of the Untied States from our soil as the natural and legitimate defense of Puerto Rican independence.
We are not as fortunate as our forefathers of 1868. They fought for the pure principle of national sovereignty. They had no complaint against the motherland, Spain.
We must make demands against the United States of North America, such as indemnification for the enormous damages systematically and cold-blooded perpetrated against a peaceful and defenseless nation.
Puerto Rico’s favorable commercial balance during the thirty-five years of North American military intervention is approximately $400,000,000. According to this imposing figure Puerto Rico should be one of the planet’s richest and prosperous countries. In fact, poverty is our patrimony. This money is in the power of the citizens of continental North America.
If we calculate conservatively the financial value of the commercial monopoly forcibly imposed on us by the United States by virtue of which we are forced to sell our merchandise to the North Americans at the price they set, and add what we must pay for North American merchandise at whatever price the North Americans want to impose on us, we arrive at a figure of no less than $50,000,000.
The result of this pitiless exploitation and the abuses perpetrated against our nation are made evident through the universal poverty, the illnesses and the elevated mortality rates of our population, the highest in the Americas.
Seventy-six per cent of our national wealth is in the hands of a few North American corporations for whose benefit alone the present military government is maintained.
A stupid assault has been made on our Christian social order in a brutal effort to dissolve our family structure and destroy the morality of a noble race, imposing via governmental agencies the spread of prostitution under the deceitful banner of birth control; the ridiculous effort to destroy our Hispanic civilization with a system of public education used in the United States to enslave the masses; the mad arrogance of claiming to spiritually guide a nation whose soul was forged in the purest Christianity: these are our most serious complaints.
In Puerto Rico the United States of America is confronting face to face the spirit of Lexington, of Zaragoza, of Ayacucho.
The present imperial policies by which they want to dissolve nationalism through terror and assassination is a provocation and an act of imperialist foolishness aimed at satisfying a handful of North American corporations.
The people of the United States, if they have not become totally insensitive to the principles that allowed them to be a free nation, must show common sense, must be guided solely by their national interests.
This national interest is guaranteed to respect Puerto Rico’s independence.
These are the aspirations of Puerto Rican nationalism.