[Ppnews] Lolita Lebron: 'I am a Revolutionary'
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Aug 4 20:28:13 EDT 2010
Lolita Lebron: 'I am a Revolutionary'
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
By: Monica Ruiz and Javier Lavoe
Puerto Rican freedom fighter dies as age of 90
Lolita Lebron, Puerto Rican nationalist leader
and revered icon of independence, died on August
1 at age 90. She suffered from a cardiopulmonary condition.
Being taken into custody, March 4, 1954
Amidst a sea of Nationalist and Puerto Rican
flags, hundreds of people showed up to pay their
respects to Lebron who was lying in wait in the
islands capital. A mass and a commemoration took
place where political figures, ex-political
prisoners and independence fighters, as well as
the public at-large, expressed their love and
respect for the woman who some are now calling
the mother of Puerto Rican nationalism. People
sang the nationalist anthem at various points and
chanted Lolita Lebron, example of courage!
Among the prior political prisoners present were
Alicia Rodriguez, Carmen Valentin, Juan Segarra
Palmer, Adolfo Matos, Elizam Escobar and, the
most recently released political prisoner and
independence fighter, Carlos Alberto Torres.
While people waited in line to see Lolita,
constant chants of Que viva Puerto Rico libre!
could be heard, along with the response: Que viva!
Many speakers reflected on how Lebrons life
influenced them personally and the struggle for
Puerto Ricos independence. The Macheteros sent a
statement vowing to continue the fight for
independence. Her widower, Dr. Sergio Irizarry,
said to the crowd present: Don Pedro (Albizu
Campos) and Lolita are figures made of the same
stuff, made with the fire of patriotic passion
that raises the people. The date of our
independence is marked on the calendar; sooner or later we will be free.
The legislature, on behalf of Don Pedro Albizu
Campos daughter, Laura Albizu, is petitioning
the governor for an official three-day mourning period for the whole country.
On Aug. 2, dozens of people attended a memorial
for Lolita, which was held in Spanish Harlem next
to a mural of Don Pedro Albizu Campos and Che
Guevara. Those in attendance remembered Lolita's
courage, the campaign to win her release and her
days in New York after she was released.
Colleagues, friends and longtime members of the
independence movement spoke of her indomitable
strength in prison, and her profound impact on
the struggle for independence. Hiram Rivera, vice
president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist
Party-NY, said, Lolita will live in the hearts
of those Puerto Ricans who believe in the freedom
of our nation. A group of artists will be
working on a new mural dedicated to her in the next few weeks.
The attack on Congress and Lolitas release
Doña Lolita, as she is singularly known in Puerto
Ricono last name necessarybecame a nationalist
hero in 1954 when she organized an assault on the
U.S. Congress with her comrades Rafael Cancel
Miranda, Irving Flores and Andres Figueroa.
On March 1, 1954, Lolita and her three comrades
calmly entered the Capitol, walked through the
lobby and up to the visitors gallery above the
chamber in the House of Representatives, which
was in session. Shortly thereafter, Lolita gave
the order, the Nationalists unfurled the Puerto
Rican flag, Lolita stood up and shouted Que Viva
Puerto Rico Libre! and within seconds they opened fire on the U.S. Congress.
Five congressmen were wounded in the attack. All
four Nationalists were immediately arrested. Soon
after the attack, the mass media launched a
campaign to demonize the Puerto Rican independence movement.
But Lolita was not intimidated: I am not sorry!
I am not sorry to come and demand freedom for my
country in any place. As she had written on a
note in her purse the day of the attack: My life
I give for the freedom of my country. This is a
cry for victory in our struggle for independence.
. . . The United States of America is betraying
the sacred principles of mankind in their
continuous subjugation of my country. The four
were soon convicted and given life sentences.
During the social upsurge of the 1960s and 1970s
in Puerto Rico and the United States, more and
more people raised the demand for the immediate
release of the four as political prisoners and
combatants in a just war of self-determination.
An international campaign arose, which gained
steam with the diplomatic and political support
of revolutionary Cuba. The pressure paid off in
1979, when President Jimmy Carter granted amnesty
to Lolita Lebron, and the other nationalists,
after spending 24 years in prison.
A living legacy
The action taken by Lolita Lebron and her
comrades shocked the imperialists in Washington
and helped stimulate the independence movement in
Puerto Rico. Her life-long dedication to the
cause serves as an inspiration for the next
generation of activists and revolutionaries to
pick up the torch of independence. With the
recent victory of the student strike in Puerto
Rico, and the militancy of the labor movement,
there exists the basis for a resurgent anti-colonial struggle.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation raises
unconditionally the banner of independence for
Puerto Rico, regardless of the tactics the
national liberation movement employs to expel the
reigns of foreign oppression from its homeland.
What Lolita and her comrades did reflected the
fury of the colonized Puerto Rican nation and
every subjugated people that strives for a world free of oppression.
The PSL honors the legacy of Lolita Lebron and
sends our regards to her family and comrades
during these hard times. As revolutionaries here
in the colonizing country, we have a special
responsibility to the Puerto Rican independence
movement: to weaken imperialism from within, and
ultimately overthrow it. We pledge to continue
this struggle and forever raise the banner of Puerto Ricos independence.
What Lolita yelled that day in 1954 still
resonates today: Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre!
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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