Correa Cotto…the Serial Killer who Started a Revolution

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony


After Luis Muñoz Marín, the most famous criminal in Puerto Rican history is Correa Cotto. 

He started his criminal career as a child, amassed a long police record as a teenager, and was chased by the police all over the island, until his death in 1952. 

A $10,000 bounty was placed on his head – Correa Cotto, wanted dead or alive. Over 70 friends and family members were held for questioning, until the police finally caught him. 

Three movies were made about him.

At one point, a song became popular throughout the island:

They say that Correa Cotto

is looking for the other junkie

the junkie of Isla Verde

the junkie who every night loses

his sobriety and his dentures

in Harry Truman’s ass

The “other junkie” in the song was Governor Luis Muñoz Marín, who faced rumors of opium use and narcotics addiction throughout his career.

But Correa Cotto had an even more interesting link to the political history of Puerto Rico.

On October 28, 1950, Correa Cotto and an Army veteran named Pedro Benejam Alvarez led a revolt in El Oso Blanco, the largest prison on the island. Cotto started an argument during a morning baseball game in the exercise yard, and made sure that the argument spilled over into the lunchroom – with both teams fighting and throwing plates at each other.

Cotto used the chaos to slit a guard’s throat, grab his gun and keys, and lead a raid into the prison arsenal. A dozen armed prisoners followed him out to the main gate – where they killed a second guard, wounded four others, and shot their way to freedom.

Over 500 prisoners rioted and 110 managed to escape to all corners of the island.

It was a bold, unorthodox way to start a revolution. Instead of chasing Nationalists, the Insular Police now had to chase 110 fugitives all over Puerto Rico.

Within two days, the Nationalists attacked police stations in eight towns throughout the island. The Nationalist Revolution had begun.

Cotto then went on a killing spree.

He murdered 10 people over the next 17 months. After the largest manhunt in the history of Puerto Rico, the police shot and killed him in a sugarcane field on May 16, 1952.

He died with a gun in one hand, and a machete in the other.

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s ColonyBuy the book

3 Comments on “Correa Cotto…the Serial Killer who Started a Revolution

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