Biography of Don Pedro - Social Justice Wiki
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Biography of Don Pedro

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"The political personality of Pedro Albizu campos is, in reality, the contemporary history of Puerto Rico...His shadow today rests not only upon his beloved island but takes on a continental and universal significance." -Manuel Maldonado Denis


Early Years

Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was born in September 1891 in Barrio de Tenerias, a rural arean of Ponce, Puerto Rico. Son of Alejandro Albizu and Juana Campos, Don Pedro was seven years old when United States troops invaded his native city in late July, 1898.

Don Pedro was educated in both the United States and Puerto Rico, receiving his early education in the public schools of Ponce. As an exceptional student in high school he received a scholarship enabling his attendance at the University of Vermont and Harvard, where he earned a degree from Harvard's College of Sciences and Letters and Harvard Law School. While at Harvard his exchanges with Irish nationalist sympathizers furthered his understanding of models of nationalist independence.

Though arguably at the cost of ignoring issues in his own country, Campos found it necessary to gain support for Puerto Rican independence throughout the globe and engaged in speaking tours throughout Latin American countries for the liberation of not just Puerto Rico, but also the Caribbean. He argued that the United States should be “booted out of the Caribbean,” and made direct connections between his struggle and those in other Latin American countries.

A Revolutionary and Political Prisoner

Armed resistance, like that of the Irish Nationalist struggle, was a substantial aspect of the Pedro Campos’ philosophy. Arguing against electoral politics, which he deemed “a periodic farce to keep the Puerto Rican family divided.” The Nationalist distain for electoral politics and belief in armed struggled materialized in 1950 with a seventy-two hour attempt to seize state power and then later in March of 1954 when two Puerto Rican Nationalists attempted to assassinate President Harry Truman.

Albizu Campos served as an officer in the Untied States Expeditionary Force during World War I, which at that time was racially segregated. This experience proved to be central in Albizu Campos's politicization.

After the war, Albizu Campos became committed to making the colonial status of Puerto Rico an international issue. Thus before becoming president of the Nationalist party, Don Pedro traveled throughout Latin America seeking support from countries like Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Peru.

At 39, Albizu Campos was a popular figure amoungst student activists when he was elected president of the Nationalist party. During his presidency, he responded to the call to oratorically lead sugarcane laborers during a general strike in 1934--one of the largest working-class demonstrations to occur in the history of Puerto Rico.

Albizu Campos's active participation in Puerto Rico's independista movement, his fierce rhetoric that criticized the U.S. imperial project in Puerto Rico, and his call for armed struggle against the U.S. made him a prime target of the U.S. state's repressive forces. Albizu Campos would spend at least 25 years of his life in prison on various charges.

Death of a National Hero

Don Pedro Albizu Campos died in prison on April 21, 1965. He was 74 years old and serving time for conspiracy to overthrow the quasi-colonial government of Puerto Rico. Over 75,000 Puerto Ricans witnessed his burial in the Old San Juan Cemetery. Since his death, Albizu Campos has proved to be the most salient personification of Puerto Rican nationalism and is considered the father and most lionized martyr of the Puerto Rican Independista Movement.