The Ponce Massacre, why is it important to remember?

10 Responses to “The Ponce Massacre, why is it important to remember?”

  1. Boricua Nation says:

    La Masacre de Ponce, March 21, 1937
    Juventud Nacionalista Puertorriqueña de Nueva York 

    The Puerto Rican Nationalist Youth of New York

    “El Nacionalismo es una escuela de honor y de valor

    Nationalism is a school of honor and valor”

    – Don Pedro Albizu Campos

    La Masacre de Ponce

    the Ponce Massacre

    The most brutal act committed by the colonial government in Puerto Rico against the Nationalist movement was the Masacre de Ponce (Ponce Massacre).

    On March 21 of, 1937 (Palm Sunday), the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico had requested permission from the mayor of the southern city of Ponce, José Tormos Diego to celebrate a march to commemorate the abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico and demanding the release of Puerto Rican political prisoners, including Albizu Campos. The activity was supposed to end in a rally.

    The mayor granted them permission, but the military governor General Winship opposed. Colonel Orbeta (chief of the insular police) traveled to Ponce that morning and convinced Mayor Tormos Diego to revoke the permit. The municipal permit was revoked at the last minute, just one hour before, the mayor demanded that the organizers cancel the event. The Nationalist decided to march anyway.

    The Nationalists rejected the request and refused to cancel the march. Many people had traveled from all over the island and made great sacrifices to participate. It was a pacific demonstration where not only the Cadets participated, but men, women and children.

    When the Nationalists began marching to the first chords of the national anthem, the police, under the command of Captain Sodevilla, indiscriminately opened fire with rifles and sub-machine guns, killing over 21 innocent people and injuring over 150 (many mutilated for life). The Ponce Massacre is an example of the repression and persecution against Nationalist movement by the colonial government.

    The Cadets of the Republic (Cadetes de la República) and the Daughters of Liberty (Hijas de la Libertad), official youth organizations within the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party had gathered in the city of Ponce for a peaceful demonstration organized by the Nationalist Party. As it is evident in the photographs taken by a journalist, the members of the Nationalist Party and the Cadets of the Republic (black shirts) were unarmed and trapped by the police who shot them at close range.

    This action was ordered directly by the imposed governor of the island at the time, General Winship. After this act of terrorism by the colonial government, the imprisoned nationalist leaders were transferred to Atlanta.

    During the ten to fifteen minute shooting at what is known as the Masacre de Ponce, the flag-bearer of the Cadets of the Republic was killed. Carmen Fernández tried to take the flag herself when she saw the flag-bearer of the Cadets fall, she was shot and gravely injured. At that point, Dominga Cruz Bacerril, a lady from Mayagüez who had already taken cover, saw the flag fall on the pavement. She ran up to the flag, picked it up, waved it and then ran with it towards a close by hospital without being harmed. When asked why she exposed herself to such danger, she calmly answered: “El Maestro (The Teacher) has told us that the flag must always be raised up high.” “The Teacher” she referred to was Don Pedro Albizu Campos.

    Bolívar Márquez, a Cadet, fell to the ground mortally wounded, dragged himself to the sidewalk and with his own blood wrote on the wall of a house:

    “Viva la República, abajo los asesinos”.

    “Long live the Republic, Down with the Murderers”

    For information regarding the Puerto Rican Nationalist Youth of New York contact us at “”.

  2. Tato says:

    Cadetes de la República/Cadets of the Republic
    Cadetes de la República/Cadets of the Republic

    The official youth organization within the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party was originally denominated as the Ejercito Libertador de Puerto Rico (Liberation Army of Puerto Rico) or Cadetes de la República (Cadets of the Republic). Not all cadets were members of the Nationalist Youth and not all members of the Nationalist youth were necessarily cadets.

    The uniform of the Cadets of the Republic consists of black shirt with black buttons and two pockets with flaps, white pants, black tie, white gloves and black military hat (overseas hat or beret), black belt and black shoes or boots. Officers wear a white jacket over the black shirt and tie, and a white officers hat.

    The black color of the shirts symbolizes the mourning of the Puerto Rican Nation in colonial captivity. The use of the color black was originally promoted by Patriot Ramón Emeterio Betances and inspired by the Carbonari, a secret political society, which played an important historical part, chiefly in France and Italy, during the first decades of the nineteenth century.

    Ramón Emeterio Betances

    In the early 30s, there were variations in respect to the relative aspect of the uniform used by the Cadets of the Republic. By the year 1934, the uniform was established as it is basically used today. But even today there are variations due to the lack of or availability of resources.

    The insignia of the Nationalist Party is worn by the cadets on the left side of the hats and on the left arm of the shirts. This consists of a round patch with a black background and a white cross known as the Cross Potent or Cruz Potenzada in the center. This is the same insignia, which appears on the Nationalist flag. The Cross Potent is a sign of Divine Light and Life, along with the eternal presence of Don Pedro Albizu Campos, is a most sacred and enduring symbol of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party.

    The Cross Potent or Cruz Potenzada has arms which end in the shape of a “T” or tau. This cross is often called the “Cross of Jerusalem” (Cruz de Jerusalén), “Tau” Cross (Cruz Tau) or Crutch Cross. The Cross Potent was used in seventeenth century alchemy as a sign for the crucible, the pot in which for instance, metals are melted (a melting pot).

    In the past the Cadets were only composed of male members. The female youth organization within the Party was composed of the Cuerpo de Enfermeras (Nurse’s Core) and/or Hijas de la Libertad (Daughters of Liberty) and their uniform was the same as that of the Cadets, except for the use of white skirts instead of pants.

    In the history of the struggle for Liberty, Independence and Sovereignty of our Nation, the Cadets of the Republic of Puerto Rico (Ejército Libertador de Puerto Rico), as the military body of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, has earned the highest honors. The Cadets of the Republic were the creation of Don Pedro Albizu Campos himself, and they represent the course of organization and discipline, which El Maestro instituted as the duty for the liberation of Puerto Rico and foundation of the Puerto Rican Nation, as it continues today.

    Don Pedro Albizu Campos

    “El Nacionalismo es la Patria organizada para el rescate de su Soberanía”

    “Nationalism is the Country organized for the rescue of its Sovereignty”

    – Don Pedro Albizu Campos

    The Cadets of the Republic as the military body of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party has its origins in the first two years of the 1930s. Our Consecrated and Illuminated Teacher, Don Pedro Albizu Campos provided their structure and military nature. For El Maestro, organization and discipline were the key to the victorious development of the struggle for the Independence of Puerto Rico.

    The complete story of Cadets of the Republic will not be told until our Nation has reached the supreme goals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. There are elements of the struggle, such as both the heroic merits of many, and the dishonor of some, which must, for now, inevitably remain in silence. One of the sacrifices which organization and revolutionary discipline imposes on those who submit to it, is that of discretion.

    During the decade of the 30s, many companies of the Cadets of the Republic were organized across the island. They all carried out important tasks of military organization and discipline as a method of training and development for the Nationalists.

    The offices of the National Committee (Junta Nacional) of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party were originally located at the following address: número 11 de la Calle del Cristo, Old San Juan. It was from there that military orders were regularly given by the high command (Estado Mayor). This central command (Estado Mayor) was held by the Presidency of the Nationalist Party.

    Marching drills were carried out in El Arsenal, in the sector known as La Marina. The military instruction was carried out by veteran militants of the ranking files of the Party. The type of military doctrine used varied. In the early 30s, there were also variations in respect to the relative aspect of the command, rank and military doctrine to follow by the Cadets of the Republic.

    The activities of the Cadets of the Republic across the island was not only limited to local training and disciplinary activities, there were also concentrations of companies in national acts. One such act was the celebrated 6th of April (José de Diego’s birthday) of 1934 in the plaza (town square) of Barrio Obrero in Santurce, where cadet companies from the towns of Utuado, Caguas and Mayagüez participated.

    After the incarceration of Don Pedro Albizu Campos in 1936, the development of the Cadets of the Republic as an open military organization was altered. The persecution carried out by the U.S. regime in the island forced the organization to carry out its military training with extreme discretion. During this time, the Cadets of the Republic only participated openly in public national celebrations, such as the commemoration of the Grito de Lares, José de Diego’s birthday, etc.

    An example of the repression and persecution against the organization was the incident occurred on March 21 of, 1937, Palm Sunday, when the Cadets of the Republic and the Daughters of Liberty (Hijas de la Libertad) gathered in the city of Ponce for a peaceful demonstration organized by the Nationalist Party. The police opened fire on the demonstrators and killed over 21 innocent people and injured over 150, this tragic act is known as La Masacre de Ponce (the Ponce Massacre).

    The Cadets of the Republic remained active until 1947, when Don Pedro Albizu Campos returned after having been incarcerated for 10 years in Atlanta, Georgia. The Cadets of the Republic had direct involvement in the military preparations for the armed uprising of October of 1950, known as La Insurrección del 50 (the Insurrection of 1950) or El Grito de Jayuya (the Cry of Jayuya) which ended with 25 dead patriots and Albizu’s arrest. After these events, where many brave cadets like Raimundo Díaz Pacheco, offered their lives, the Cadets of the Republic ceased to function as an officially organized military organ of the Nationalist Party.

    In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Cadets of the Republic were reorganized in Puerto Rico, now composed of a single body composed of both male and female cadets. As of 1980, the organization already had two companies, one in Arecibo and one in Vega Baja. The New York City Committee (Junta) of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party is currently reorganizing its own body of Cadets of the Republic.

    The Cadets of the Republic participate in official ceremonies of the Nationalist Party, such as parades, funerals and commemorative acts. Cadets in the past carried wooden drill rifles and officers carried ceremonial military sabers (swords). The Cadets always bare the Nationalist symbols, such as the Puerto Rican flag, the Lares flag, and the Nationalist flag. Their weapon today is to be the knowledge of themselves.

    “Los jóvenes tienen el deber de defender su Patria con las armas del Conocimiento.”

    “The youth has the duty to defend the Homeland with the weapons of Knowledge.”

    – Don Pedro Albizu Campos

    For information regarding the Puerto Rican Nationalist Youth of New York contact us at “”.

  3. Diego says:

    What caused it is still a problem
    The Ponce Massacre remains one of the most graphic and popular examples of Puerto Rico’s colonial affliction. But we’re singing to the choir in here, aren’t we? We need to start taking these messages to the masses.

    My question is, how many Puerto Ricans in US high schools know about the Pnce Massacre?

    That’s one of OUR problems, as the elders who know better.

    Time to get busy.


  4. Elizabeth Langston says:

    Hello my name is Elizabeth Langston( Correa). I am emailing you because my great-grandfather was killed during this time. His name was Genero Rodriguez and my great-uncle Ivan Rodriguez. I am checking my background of my ancestors and as I asked my mom she told of my great-grandfather and great-uncle. As I can see they were upstanding men fighting for there rights. If it is ok can you email me some pictures or send me any more information you may have on these two gentlemen. Such as where they were barried if possible why they were killed for no reason just because they stood for the independance of PR. Que Viva PUERTO RICO LA ISLA DE BORRINQUE.

  5. santurce says:

    The previous comments on the Ponce Massacre sounds like we have to put an NGO (educational/think tank) together that will bring back to the PuertoRican youth the hidden memory of what we are and what we were. What do you think? Explaining to Puerto Rican and Caribbean youths simple daily things with history, social history and cultural patterns.

    If it sounds good to my sisters and brothers, then email me; (Julio Ortiz)

    Un Abrazo



  7. Norma Serrano says:

    I am a student in 6th grade and I am working on a project called the Massacre De Ponce and I am trying to communicate with someone that had their family member or friend killed at that time. I am trying to get information for my history project. Please leave an email on my teacher’s email adress:

    Thank You in advance.


    Norma Serrano

  8. as a puerto rican i am upset that the history is not up dated, why is it that history books in america don’t tell the truth, i will envoice my oppinion now andlet every one know what ponce massacre is is time to start telling the truth in our history books. educate.

  9. Rosa M. Sanchez Auffant says:

    me alegro tanto ver que esta parte semi oculta de la historia de nuestro pais,Puerto Rico,pueda ser leida por muchos que tal vez ignoran la verdad de un grupo de hombres y mujeres con mucha dignidad, orgullo,y valentia,que estuvieron dispuestos a ofrendar hasta sus vidas por su patria.Yo soy hija de un CADETE DE LA REPUBLICA ,q.e.d.,el Sr. GUILLERMO SANCHEZ PACHECO que lucho,participo y fue preso por sus ideales. Mi padre murio cuando yo apenas era pre adolescente, pero recuerdo que unos meses antes de morir , me enseno una pagina de periodico y me pregunto que si conocia la persona que aparecia esposado,siendo empujado en la parte de atras de una “perrera” (una guagua donde transportaban a los presos ).yo le conteste que si, que ese era el,y entonces mi padre me contesto: “quiero que sepas que no hize nada malo,no cometi ningun crimen”. Para esa entonces no entendi nada,pero mas luego entendi que ere todo un hombre de honor .Con esto quiero decir que si,estoy muy orgullosa de mi padre .Honor a el y todos aquellos valientes que lo que les faltaba de riqueza….les sobraba de valor y dignidad.

  10. javier alvarez montalvo says:

    quiero servir ala republica lo llevo en la sangre naci servir ala nacion 347-338-4333

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