“When tyranny is law revolution is order.” – Pedro Albizu Campos, 1932
In the 1930s and 1940s, the moment in Puerto Rico’s history when independence was truly within reach, the United States government set out to undo any sense of Puerto Rican national identity, suppressing any pro-independence expression, framing and imprisoning independence leadership and targeting its leader, lawyer and poet Pedro Albizu Campos. Who is Albizu? is a feature length broadcast documentary that sheds light on this period through the revolutionary life of Albizu Campos.
In the social and political history of Puerto Rico and the United States, no figure has been more controversial, more polarizing, and yet more unifying than Pedro Albizu Campos.
His name evokes violence: terrorism for some, revolutionary struggle for others. For some, he was a man out of touch with reality, a mad man with a messianic complex, a man bent on violently sabotaging a crucial economic relationship with the emerging great power of the free world, the United States.
To many others, he was a hero, the most important crusader for the independence of Puerto Rico, the father of the Puerto Rican nation and a martyr whose demise was hastened by the interests and power of American domination. Had independence been achieved, he could have been Puerto Rico’s George Washington.
To the United States government, Albizu Campos was a threat. In 2000, the FBI declassified over one million pages on its activities in Puerto Rico between 1936 and 1995. Of those, at least 4,700 pages tell the story of the surveillance, infiltration and imprisonment of Albizu Campos, who spent over 25 years in prison on charges of sedition, attempted murder and conspiring to overthrow the government.
J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI not only kept a watchful eye, but harassed and framed the nationalist leadership in “efforts to disrupt their activities and compromise their effectiveness.” The domestic surveillance program, known as COINTELPRO, was indeed effective in sabotaging, discrediting and criminalizing pro-independence activities, and Puerto Rico served as a testing ground for methods later used against leaders of the civil rights movement.
Despite the immensity of Albizu Campos’ legacy and the impact that he had in the United States and Puerto Rico, there are no English language books currently in circulation about the subject. This project will be a main source of information for an entire generation of English speaking Latinos, public school educators, and political science, history and sociology students of every level.