Nationalist Party Leadership, 1930-1937

In the 1930s Don Pedro solidified his place as the most impactful leader of Puerto Rico’s independence movement. During this time Don Pedro would organize a movement that seriously challenged U.S. control over Puerto Rico, inspiring both widespread popular support and open colonial opposition — it would also spark the revitalization of the people’s national identity and dignity.

The importance of this period of Don Pedro’s life is profound considering the impact it had on Puerto Rican society — an impact felt and seen today. Much of what took place during this period, whether it be Nationalist Party activities or colonial authority reactions, were significant in scale. The sensational nature of some of these events, particularly in the year 1936, have also caused some aspects of Don Pedro’s leadership to be underrepresented if not overlooked.


The Start Of A New Era

Marking A New Era Of Struggle Returning to Puerto Rico on January 4, 1930 without fanfare, Don Pedro set to work reestablishing his law practice and reorganizing El Nacionalista de Puerto Rico, which had stopped being published in his absence. He also resumed his political work, attending meetings and conferences, conducting interviews, and writing articlesContinue reading “The Start Of A New Era”

Two Notable Events Of 1932

The Nefarious Dr. Rhoads In the middle of the electoral campaign, Puerto Rico became the site of a medical scandal brought to public attention by Don Pedro. On November 12, 1931 the young nationalist Luis Baldoni Martínez reported early to his job as a laboratory assistant in the Presbyterian Hospital located in San Juan andContinue reading “Two Notable Events Of 1932”

Leading A Principled Movement

Complete Non-Collaboration With The Empire Following the 1932 elections Don Pedro would refocus the Nationalist Party under the principle of non-collaboration with the colonial regime. In actuality, he had promoted this principle as soon as he returned to Puerto Rico from his university studies. It was his belief in non-collaboration with the regime that broughtContinue reading “Leading A Principled Movement”

Organizing A Nation

Building A National Movement The Nationalist Party under the leadership of Don Pedro would become a bona fide national movement. As he traveled across the territory of Puerto Rico educating the masses about their colonial situation, the heroes and symbols that are to be found in their history, and the actions they must take toContinue reading “Organizing A Nation”

The War Against Nationalists

Developing A Military Regime When strikes across several industries in Puerto Rico broke out in 1933, the U.S. government was put on high alert. In response, the U.S. administration, headed by President Roosevelt, made a number of appointments intended to take control of the situation and enforce order. The first appointment would be that ofContinue reading “The War Against Nationalists”

Responding To Colonial Violence

Reactions To The Río Piedras Massacre The reactions to the Río Piedras Massacre were significant. The wake for the fallen nationalists was attended by as many as 8,000 people. At the wake, Don Pedro delivered a passionate speech, denouncing the massacre and pointing to Chief of Police Riggs as responsible for ordering policemen to theContinue reading “Responding To Colonial Violence”

Months From Independence

The Widespread Movement For A Constitutional Convention Though the Tydings Bill was written with severe consequences, when it was introduced on April 23, 1936 a nation-wide conversation on independence began. Even Rafael Martínez Nadal, the pro-statehood leader of the Republican Union Party, was quoted in El Mundo on April 25 saying “Rather than lifelong slaves,Continue reading “Months From Independence”

Prison And The Ponce Massacre

Imprisoning National Leadership By the time Don Pedro and eight other Nationalist Party members were indicted on April 3, 1936 for seditious conspiracy and other charges, one of the accused had already begun serving a one-year sentence for contempt. Ordered to produce all of the Nationalist Party’s internal documents of the previous four years byContinue reading “Prison And The Ponce Massacre”