Puerto Rican Nationalist Terrorism

Puerto Rican nationalist terrorism was one of the four major domestic terrorist threats that faced the United States in the latter part of the 20th century, along with right-wing groups, militia groups, and single-subject special interest groups (e.g., antiabortion militants, radical environmentalists).

Militant Puerto Rican nationalism dates to the 1930s, when Pedro Albizu Campos became president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party (NPPR), a political group advocating that Puerto Rico become a free and independent republic. The charismatic and Harvard-educated Campos injected the movement with a “radical nationalism,” calling for “direct action” to achieve the goal of national sovereignty. He pledged that for every nationalist killed, a continental American would die—a promise he kept. Police fired into a student protest at the University of Puerto Rico in October 1935; in February 1936, members of the NPPR assassinated Colonel Frank Riggs, Puerto Rico's police commander.

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