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Isolina Rondón (April 11, 1913 – October 2, 1990) was a political activist. She was one of the few witnesses of the killing of four Nationalists committed by local police officers in Puerto Rico during a confrontation with the supporters of the Nationalist Party that occurred in October 24, 1935, and which is known as the Río Piedras massacre. Rondón joined the political movement and became the Treasurer of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party which staged various uprisings in Puerto Rico against the colonial Government of the United States in 1950.[1]

Isolina Rondón
Born April 11, 1913
Río Piedras, Puerto Rico
Died October 2, 1990 (1990-10-03) (aged 77)
New York City, NY
Monuments Puerto Rican Independence
Political party Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
Movement Puerto Rican Independence
Notes
Rondón was the Treasurer of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party from 1936 to 1946

Contents

Early yearsEdit

Rondón was born in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico and was raised by her upon her father's death. Her mother was a housekeeper and at times Rondón helped. after Rondón began her primary education in her hometown and after completing her eighth grade she attended a secretarial school.[2] She went on to study at the University of Puerto Rico where she worked in the office of the Dean of Social Sciences.[3]

Her cousin was a member of the faction of the Puerto Rican Union Party which believed in Puerto Rican independence. On September 17, 1922, three political organizations joined forces and formed the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. Her cousin followed José Coll y Cuchí, a former member of the Puerto Rican Union Party, and the founder of the nationalist Party. In 1924 Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos joined the party and was named vice-president.[4] Rondón was influenced by her cousins political ideals.[2]

NationalistEdit

Rondón attended the local Nationalist Party meetings with her cousin at the house of Albizu Campos in Río Piedras. Together with other devotees she made daily visits to the house. Eventually Rondon was asked by Albizu Campos to take notes at the meetings and it wasn't long before Rondón became his personal secretary.[2]

Río Piedras massacreEdit

On October 23, 1935, a group of students at the university began a signature collection campaign with the intention of declaring Albizu Campos "Student Enemy Number One". A protest against the group by the pro-nationalist faction of students in turn denounced Chardón and the Liberal Party as instigators and agents of the United States.[5]

A student assembly was held at the university on Oct. 24, where Albizu Campos was declared "Persona non-grata". Chardón requested that the governor provide and place armed police officers on the grounds of the university in case the situation turned violent. A couple of police officers spotted what they believed to be a suspicious looking automobile and asked the driver Ramón S. Pagán, secretary of the Nationalist Party, who was accompanied by his friend Pedro Quiñones, for his license. A fight between the men in the car and the police soon followed which resulted in the death of Pagán and Quiñones. According to the local newspaper "El Mundo" of Oct. 25th, an explosion, followed by gunfire, was heard resulting in the additional deaths of Eduardo Rodríguez Vega and José Santiago Barea.[5]

Rondón watched from her front door on Calle Brumbaugh, near the University of Puerto Rico, as the police shot into the car carrying the four Nationalists. Rondón, testified how she saw the police officers shooting at the victims and how she heard one police officer screaming "do not to let them escape alive".[2] However, her testimony, as to the incident which became known as the Río Piedras massacre, was ignored and there were no charges raised against the officers. They were instead given a promotion.[5] That same year, Albizu Campos was arrested and sent to Atlanta Penitentiary.[2]

Nationalist Party Revolts of the 1950sEdit

On May 21, 1948, a bill was introduced before the Puerto Rican Senate which would restrain the rights of the independence and nationalist movements in the island. The Senate at the time was controlled by the PPD and presided by Luis Muñoz Marín approved the Bill.[6] The Bill, also known as the "Ley de la Mordaza" (gag Law), made it illegal to display a Puerto Rican flag, to sing a patriotic tune, to talk of independence, and to fight for the liberation of the island. The Bill which resembled the anti-communist Smith Law passed in the United States, was signed and made into law on June 10, 1948, by the U.S.-appointed governor of Puerto Rico, Jesús T. Piñero and became known as "Ley 53" (Law 53).[7] In accordance to the new law, it would be a crime to print, publish, sale, to exhibit or organize or to help anyone organize any society, group or assembly of people whose intentions are to paralyze or destroy the insular government. Anyone accused and found guilty of disobeying the law could be sentenced to ten years of prison, be fined $10,000 dollars (US) or both. According to Dr. Leopoldo Figueroa, a member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, the law was repressive and was in violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution which guarantees Freedom of Speech. He pointed out that the law as such was a violation of the civil rights of the people of Puerto Rico.[8]

On October 30, 1950, on the orders of Albizu Campos, the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party staged various uprisings, in what is known as the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party Revolts of the 1950s, in various towns, among them Peñuelas, Mayagüez, Naranjito, Arecibo and Ponce, of which the most notable occurrences being in Utuado uprising, where the insurgents were massacred, Jayuya uprising, the town where the "Free Republic of Puerto Rico" was declared, and which was heavily damaged by the military in response to the insurrection, and in San Juan where the Nationalists made an attempt against then-Governor Luis Muñoz Marín at his residence "La Fortaleza". The uprisings failed and hundreds of Nationalists were rounded up and arrested.

On April 15, 1952, she was interviewed by the FBI in her Rio Piedras apartment in regard to the uprisings. She stated that she had been treasurer of the Nationalist Party from 1936 to 1946. Rondón also stated that any actions taken by the party were a result of the inspiration of Albizu Campos. On May 20, she was asked if Albizu Campos used any of the Party's funds for himself and she stated no, she also insisted that any questions in regard to the Nationalist Party should be directed at Albizu Campos, since he is the spokesperson of the party's ideals. She was then asked if Albizu Campos gave the order that resulted in the Nationalist Uprisings of October 30, 1950 and she responded that Albizu Campos was unaware of many of the actions which involved the Nationalists. She stated that to the best of her knowledge Albizu Campos had nothing to do with the uprisings.[9]

Later yearsEdit

Isolina Rondón continued to be active in Puerto Rico's Independent movement. She acted as the Secretary of the Nationalist Party.[2] She died on October 2, 1990 in New York City.[10]

There is a plaque, located at the monument to the Jayuya Uprising participants in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, honoring the women of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. Rondón's name is on the fourteenth line of the second (middle) plate.

 
Plaque honoring the women of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party

Further readingEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Bosque Pérez, Ramón (2006). Puerto Rico Under Colonial Rule. SUNY Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-7914-6417-5. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Isolina Rondón
  3. ^ Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico-FBI files
  4. ^ El Nuevo Dia Archived 2011-09-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b c "Puerto Rico Por Encima de Todo: Vida y Obra de Antonio R. Barceló, 1868-1938"; by: Dr. Delma S. Arrigoitia; Page 306; Publisher: Ediciones Puerto (January 2008); ISBN 978-1-934461-69-3
  6. ^ "La obra jurídica del Profesor David M. Helfeld (1948-2008)'; by: Dr. Carmelo Delgado Cintrón Archived 2012-03-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "Puerto Rican History". Topuertorico.org. January 13, 1941. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  8. ^ La Gobernación de Jesús T. Piñero y la Guerra Fría
  9. ^ FBI files
  10. ^ Social Security Records