[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.
Lolita Lebron

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 
island’s 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 Lebron’s life 
influenced them personally and the struggle for 
Puerto Rico’s 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 Lolita’s 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 visitor’s 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 Rico’s independence.

What Lolita yelled that day in 1954 still 
resonates today: “Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre!”

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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