“It is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves;
for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give all of you into our hands…
So David triumphed over Goliath with a sling and a stone;
without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.”
– 1 Samuel 47-49
GUNFIGHT AT SALÓN BORICUA
Vidal Santiago Díaz was the proud owner of the Salón Boricua barbershop. He was also a committed Nationalist and the personal barber of Pedro Albizu Campos. On October 31, 1950, when he heard that the U.S. National Guard had surrounded Albizu Campos’s home in San Juan, Vidal called the office of Attorney General Geigel Polanco and offered to mediate the surrender of Albizu Campos.
Polanco never responded. Instead, forty US National Guardsmen and Insular Policemen surrounded the barber shop and attacked with revolvers, rifles, carbines, and a Browning M1919A4 machine gun. They set up a line of fire on Calle Colton, and started shooting at the barbershop.
U.S. National Guard assault the Salón Boricua
The gunfight lasted three hours. Over a dozen radio stations rushed to the scene, for a live broadcast of the entire battle. It was the first live island-wide radio broadcast in the history of Puerto Rico, with reporters from San Juan (WIAC, WITA), Ponce (WPRB) Arecibo (WCMN) and ten other towns. Even Mayagüez (WECW) sent a news crew, form the other of the island. At one point Luis Enrique “Bibí” Marrero from Radio WIAC, who had grown up with Vidal in Santurce, got close enough to talk to him.
“Oye Vidal,” he yelled.
“It’s me, Bibí. How you doing in there?”
“I’m all fucked up.”
“¡Coño Vidal, te ha’ hecho famoso! Every radio station on the island is here.”
“I got a radio too. It’s got all this American crap.”
“Do you need anything?”
“Yeah, a ticket to Cuba.”
“Maybe we can arrange it. How many of you are -”
But the National Guard started shooting again. The battle was ferocious; everyone estimated that at least twenty Nationalists were hidden and firing from the barber shop.
Soldiers scramble around the Salón Boricua barber shop
A lieutenant grabbed a bullhorn and shouted toward them.
“Vidal Santiago…we don’t want to hurt you.”
“Tell that to my leg, pendejo,” yelled Vidal. “You shot it pretty good.”
“You and your friends…come out with your hands up, and no harm will come to you.”
“I don’t have any friends.”
“What you do have, is one minute. Come out or we’re coming in.”
But three Molotov cocktails sailed out from the second floor of the barber shop, and the battle raged again.
National Guard and policemen take cover from the barber's gunfire
Vidal fired a M3A1 submachine gun from several windows, and even appeared like a madman at the front door. They shot his leg, they shot his thumb off, they shot three fingers off his left hand – but like a brave bull goaded to renewed savagery, Vidal fought ceaselessly, against all odds. The gunfight continued and hundreds of Puerto Ricans watched breathlessly, as if it were an action film.
After three hours, the Browning machine gun had vaporized the barber chairs and shattered every mirror. A staircase finally collapsed on Vidal’s head, and the gunfire stopped.
The battle of Salón Boricua was over.
Vidal Santiago Díaz, buried under the stairs
A squad of soldiers secured the barber shop and were shocked to find only one man under all the rubble, instead of twenty. How could one barber hold off forty heavily armed soldiers and cops for three hours?
National Guardsmen inspect the barber shop
The soldiers took no chances. They shot him in the head at point blank range and hauled him out of the shop. As they dragged Vidal’s corpse into the street with radio announcers swarming all around them, the soldiers had one last shock.
The corpse opened its eyes.
He’s alive! He’s alive!
Vidal was still alive. The radio reporters went into a frenzy announcing the news all over Puerto Rico. In that very instant, when he opened his eyes, Vidal Santiago Díaz became the second-most famous Nationalist in Puerto Rican history – second only to Albizu Campos himself.
He was the barber who defied an empire, with a bullet in his brain.
An eyewitness account of the Gunfight at Salón Boricua, and the titanic battle waged by this one barber, is given in…
Its just horrible how power and money can buy these hired assassins ( Isular Police) to mame, kill, massacre, the Puerto Rican people (their owe people). Its a crime that went on in silence from mainland american presidency.
USA, give us statehood or independence now.
We The Boricua People, Brown People, Humble Poor/Rican Brown Humble People…WHEN WE FIND OURSELVES BETWEEN THE SWORD AND THE WALL…WE WILL DEFEND ! WE WILL FIGHT UNTIL OUR LAST BREATH. LOOK AT EL COMANDANTE, FILIBERTO OJEDA RIOS. HE DIDNT SURRENDERED. FOR A BORICUA WARRIOR SURRENDERING IS NOT AN OPTION. VIDAL Y FILIBERTO…THESE ARE ONLY TWO OF THE MANY BRAVES ONES THAT OUR ISLAND IS BLESSED TO HAVE. WHEN WE CRY OUT…”GUASABARA!” THE BOLD EAGLE SHOULD BE READY FOR THE FIGHT. THE SAME WAY OUR PITIRRE PUTS UP A FIGHT WITH THE GUARAGUAO…AT THAT BOLD AMERICAN EAGLE IN TIME WILL DEFEAT!
The bulk of my family is professional. We promote education and move into their suburbs and become their neighbors. Everyone is in the U.S.A. America is like a sinner who has planted seeds of greed, hate, and arrogance who is now starting to reap the ill fruits of his labor. America has a huge problem because they love meddling in distant lands, stealing resources and blowing people up including children….America is now dealing with Radical Islam. Thanks majority for meddling once again and imposing this calamity on us all. Puerto Rico I love you and admire the strength of our people. It saddens me that we live in such a world but make no mistake, the English man now deals with minorities impregnating their women, they deal with their younger generation idolizing minority celebrities, they deal with social ills that the U.S government and Wall Street vultures created. America is in debt to China and God knows who else. We have a creator who when He is all said and done, no stone will be left unturned. America’s children are not the best educated as they once were, they are obese for the greed in this country is disgusting… I know one thing is for certain, God punishes the wicked; therefore, I know that every individual in the timeline of history who has done evil deeds was repaid in full.
I alway said that the Puerto Rican solders were the best warriors in the American army .How can one man fight by himself and hold off for over 3 hour a well train military . US veteran .
I have never seen a little island as small as our being fruitful, there will be a lot of rich people and a whole lot of poor people working the finger to the knuckle, to be able to feed their family. the best we can do is be part of the greatest nation of USA.
Yo ,fui testigo del tiroteo a Fortaleza, en el a~o 1950. Esto fue motivo de la cogida de bobo que Luis Munoz Marin, le dio a los independentista, al decirle que la independencia de Puerto Rico, estaba a la vuelta de la esquina en la cocina de sus casa, y ellos le creyeron y votaron por el.
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Don Tommy Muniz had Mr.Vidal Santiago Diaz on one of his shows; this back in the late 60s or early 70s, I remember that Mr. Vidal Santiago personified dignity during this interview, just as good as he personified bravery. He was Don Pedro Albizu Campos barber.
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Wow, while I was reading this I imagined myself there. There were lots of brave Puerto Rican men and women who fought for the freedom of an Island. It was there right to do so. Albizu Campos whom I studied in Puerto Rico in school was a lover of everything Puerto Rican.
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