A gentleman I’ve never met has called me a liar.
According to this man, named Luis Ferrao, my book War Against All Puerto Ricans contains at least 29 lies “and more will come.”
I was curious about these 29 lies, but even more curious about Ferrao. Who was this man who never met me, who never called or contacted me, before deciding to call me a liar?
My initial research revealed a mercenary academic. Ferrao declared Pedro Albizu Campos to be a “fascist” in his Ph.D. thesis, then quickly re-packaged it as a book.
The book went nowhere but Ferrao went to Paris – on a government-sponsored fellowship – and his academic appointments followed.
Ferrao founded his career by defecating on the grave of Don Pedro. Now he seeks a mid-career boost, by attempting the same with War Against All Puerto Ricans. He calls me a liar 29 times and follows it with his own resume – a curriculum vitae from here to the airport.
I cannot help Ferrao with his career insecurity. But I can disabuse him of his own lies. Let us now begin.
There was no “War Against All Puerto Ricans”
Ferrao claims there is “no sourcing” for the statement “War against all Puerto Ricans” by Police Chief Riggs…then conveniently omits multiple references which I provide in footnote #87 on p. 288 of my book, which specifically relate to Riggs’ declaration of “War to the death against all Puerto Ricans.”
If Ferrao is implicitly questioning the FACT that this war exists, then he can explain to us how the Ponce Massacre, the Rio Piedras Massacre, the Utuado Massacre, the arrest of 3,000 Puerto Ricans in November 1950, the bombing of Utuado and Jayuya, the infamy of Dr. Cornelius Rhoads, the Jones Act, the overpricing of US consumer goods, the denial of Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, the theft of Puerto Rican land, the de-valuation of Puerto Rican currency, the passage of Law 53 and Law 13, the maintenance of over 100,000 carpetas, the prison torture of Albizu Campos, the murder of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, and the 34-year imprisonment of Oscar Lopez Rivera…are the actions of a friendly nation.
Luis Muñoz-Marin was not a model student
I was being kind, when I wrote that Luis Muñoz-Marín flunked every class except modern literature. Since Muñoz-Marín had to repeat the entire tenth grade, that means he flunked every class. (See: Carmen Bernier-Grand, Poet and Politician of Puerto Rico: Don Luis Muñoz-Marín, p. 19; A. W. Maldonado, Luis Muñoz-Marín: Puerto Rico’s Democratic Revolution, p. 32).
Don Pedro was a model student
Sources clearly state, and show, that Albizu Campos completed grade school in 4 1/2 years and high school in 2 years. (See: footnote #5, p. 303).
Don Pedro was also the captain of a legendary high school debating team, and the recipient of scholarships to the University of Vermont, Harvard University, and Harvard Law School. In addition to graduating from Harvard with a degree in Chemical Engineering, Don Pedro found the time to learn six languages.
Ferrao forgets a footnote…then “forgets” five more
Ferrao contends I rely “exclusively” on one FBI report and dubious Cuban socialists for my sourcing…and conveniently omits a page-long footnote (#49 on pp.296-297) which cites three books (including LMM’s own memoir), multiple FBI Files, newspaper accounts, and a speech by Albizu Campos which you can hear on YouTube today.
He states that I claimed to “interview the Cubans into the 1980s and 1990s,” which is simply untrue, and never stated by me.
He offers no sources to specifically refute the four books (with page citations) in footnotes #33, #36, #37, #38, #41 on pp.295-296. Again, he pretends that those footnotes do not exist.
Puerto Rico bombed itself
Ferrao claims that “no US Air Force planes were used during the October 1950 revolt. Governor Muñoz (sic) relied exclusively on Air National Guard planes.”
Aside from Ferrao’s tragic admission that Luis Muñoz-Marín bombed his own people, this statement is a model of obfuscation.
The P-47 fighter planes that bombed Utuado and Jayuya were built in the US, hangared in US airfields, maintained with US equipment, flown by US-trained pilots who dropped US-made bombs, and all of it – the planes, the airfield, the pilots, the bombs – were financed by the US.
Yet Ferrao would have us believe that a decal saying “Air National Guard” means that Puerto Rico bombed itself.
According to Ferrao, the Caribbean Sea abuts the town of Guayama, but the Atlantic Ocean does not. Therefore one of my “29 lies” is to place the Atlantic Ocean anywhere near Guayama.
But the Caribbean Sea is a part of the Atlantic Ocean, just like San Juan is a part of Puerto Rico. If there is any lingering confusion on this point, please see the following:
Conclusive historical evidence…from YouTube
Ferrao espouses an adherence to the strictest international standards of historical proof. After all, he has a Ph.D. from Mexico and a Diplome d’Etudes Approfondies (DEA) de la Universidad de Paris 1-Sorbonne. Then he uses a YouTube clip to “prove” that Public Law 53 did not prohibit the ownership of a Puerto Rican flag.
But people were arrested all over the island for having flags in their homes. The Insular Police regularly engaged in Law 53 “flag busts.” Here are two of them:
Public Law 53 was signed into law by Gov. Jesus Piñero on June 10, 1948. It criminalized any speech against the U.S. government or in favor of Puerto Rican independence; or to print, publish, sell or exhibit any material intended to impair the insular government; or to organize any society, group or assembly of people with a similar intent. As you can see from the photos above, ownership of a Puerto Rican flag was deemed a “violation” of Law 53. Anyone accused and found guilty of disobeying this law could be sentenced to ten years imprisonment, a fine of $10,000, or both.
A YouTube clip from 1952, showing a public display of the flag to the accompaniment of La Borinqueña, does not vitiate the existence of Public Law 53, nor its application at the whim of Gov. Muñoz-Marín.
Ferrao needn’t be overly alarmed at the duplicity of Muñoz-Marin; political hypocrisy is a universal given. New York had a mayor who filed no income taxes from 1969 through 1972; a governor who snorted cocaine; and a congressman who, while serving as chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, had three illegal and undisclosed apartments in New York, and an undisclosed luxury villa in the Dominican Republic.
Prof. David M. Helfeld is the longest-serving dean of the University of Puerto Rico School of Law, and is currently a Professor Emeritus. The following monograph by Dean Helfeld, written while he was Dean of the UPR School of Law, is very explicit on the repressive usage of Law 53 from 1948 through 1957: Discrimination for political beliefs and associations, 25 Revista del Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico, 5 (1964).
“Peasants” and “illiterate sugar field workers” were “unaffected” by the 40% currency de-valuation in 1900
Ferrao does not dispute the 40% devaluation of Puerto Rico’s monetary currency in 1900. But, in his own words, the “peasants” and “illiterate sugar field laborers” were not affected by this de-valuation, since they were broke to begin with.
On what planet does Ferrao live?
Perhaps someone should explain to him that, when a Puerto Rican farmer loses their farm, everyone on that farm is suddenly unemployed, and their children suddenly go hungry.
When these farms were re-configured into sugar cane centrales, the wages were abominable. In the words of Samuel Gompers, president of the AFL-CIO, “the wages of the farm workers are now less than half of what they were, under the Spanish.”
We will choose our own heroes, thank you
Juan Antonio Corretjer stated that General Valero de Bernabé “tiene el honor de ser el padre de la lucha por la independencia de Puerto Rico.” (Jose Enríque Ayoroa Santaliz, Contracanto al Olvido: Patriotas, pp. 575-74).
“El Plan Para la Independencia de Puerto Rico del General Antonio Valero de Bernabé” appears in the Revista del Instituto de la Cultura Puertorriqueña (No. 18, January-March 1963).
Puerto Rico has honored the memory of General Valero de Bernabé by naming a school and an avenue after him. There is also a statue of Valero de Bernabé in the city of Fajardo, his native city.
Valero de Bernabé’s birthday is honored every year, with massive visits to his grave. Here is one on October 26, 1950:
Valero de Bernabé was a member of the honor guard at the burial of Simón Bolivar, and a lifelong crusader for independence from Spain: for Puerto Rico, and for the rest of Latin America.
Ferrao attempts to dismiss all this, and to call me a liar, with the snide comment that “Valero could not possibly have been a nineteenth-century hero of Puerto Rican independence for there was no such independence.”
I respectfully disagree.
Getting the dates straight
The Cadets of the Republic, the youth branch of the Nationalist Party, were officially created in a public assembly in the Victoria Theater in Humacao, on December 17, 1932. By that time, the Cadets had already marched in a few towns, prior to the December 17 meeting.
In an excess of historical “gotcha,” Ferrao asserts the earlier marches as proof that the cadets were not “created” on December 17, the date of their official recognition in Humacao.
Ferrao then counts this as one of my “29 lies.” I respectfully disagree.
Getting the dates straight again
Ferrao claims that in 1935, when Ramón Pagan was assassinated in the Rio Piedras Massacre, “Aguedo Ramos Medina was the treasurer” of the Nationalist Party. Yet Ferrao knows this is only half-true.
Medina was the treasurer in early 1935. But Medina was also an FBI informant, and was caught in an assassination plot against Albizu Campos. By August ‘35, Ramón Pagan had replaced Medina as Nationalist Party Treasurer (See: Marisa Rosado, Pedro Albizu Campos: Las Llamas de la Aurora, p. 218).
On October 6, 1935, he was unanimously expelled from the Nationalist Party (See: Rosado, p. 223). On October 22, two days before the Rio Piedras Massacre, Medina published an editorial in El Mundo titled “Por que Albizu Campos me expulsó de la tesoría del Partido Nacionalista”.
A steady drumbeat of “gotcha”
And so it goes…
Ferrao seeks any arguable discrepancy, and magnifies it into a Major Historical Issue. Don Pedro graduated from high school “in three years, not two.” Don Pedro was “not the first Puerto Rican to attend Harvard and Harvard Law School.” Carpetbaggers were “willing to invest” in the future of Puerto Rico. Ponce de Leon shot “less than 6,000” Tainos. Muñoz-Marín did “publish” his father’s memoirs…in Spain! The police did not “raid” a student rally in Rio Piedras; they merely “surrounded” it with machine guns, then murdered four Puerto Ricans in broad daylight. The FBI was “created” in 1935, but before that it had a different acronym (BOI). Don Pedro’s father “was not Basque,” only his grandfather was.
All of these are arguable and petty. But this never deters an aging academic – with too many overdue bills, and too much free time on their hands – from seizing a personal opportunity.
“J’accuse!” yells Ferrao, all the way from Paris. “J’accuse!” he yelps, even in his sleep. There is an odd grandeur to his manic attack: enough sophistry for two history professors, enough pettiness and pedantry for an entire department. By the end, I am left with this image from Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift:
A terrible thing arrives in Puerto Rico. It upsets all the major politicians, and many of their hired historians.
The politicians and their historians convene a committee, to plan a defense against this terrible thing.
After much debate, they arrive at a plan: “Tie up that terrible thing!”
Unfortunately for Ferrao, and his committee of hired historians, that “terrible thing” is not me.
It is the people of Puerto Rico.
And they are waking up.
My fondest wish is that the committee of hired historians, of which Ferrao is a leading member, will be the ones who pay Puerto Rico’s debt of $73 billion.
They’ve been eating in very fine restaurants, for a very long time.
Some of those restaurants are in Paris.
It is time for them, to pay the bill.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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