ⓘ Puerto Rican Independence Party

Puerto Rican Independence Party

ⓘ Puerto Rican Independence Party

The Puerto Rican Independence Party is a social-democratic political party in Puerto Rico that campaigns for the independence of Puerto Rico from United States suzerainty.

Those who follow the PIP ideology are usually called independentistas, pipiolos, or sometimes just pro-independence activists.


1. History

The party began as the electoral wing of the Puerto Rican independence movement. It is the largest of the independence parties, and the only one that is on the ballot during elections other candidates must be added in by hand. In 1948, two years after being founded, the PIP gathered 10.2% of the votes in the island. In 1952, two years after an armed uprising of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, it obtained 19% of the votes, its highest electoral support ever, which made it the second electoral party on the island for a moment. In 1956 it took 12.4% of the votes; in 1960 3.1%; in 1964, 4%; in 1968, 3.5; in 1972, 5.4; in 1976, 5.7; in 1980, 5.4; in 1984, 3.6, and in 1988, 5.5. In 2004 it obtained 2.7% of the votes, and in 2008 it took 2%.


1.1. History Foundation

The party was founded on 20 October 1946, by Gilberto Concepcion de Gracia 1909–1968, his colleague Fernando Milan Suarez and Antonio J. Gonzalez. They felt the independence movement had been "betrayed" by the Popular Democratic Party, whose ultimate goal had originally been independence.


1.2. History FBI surveillance of the party

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh made an unprecedented admission to the effect that the FBI had engaged in egregious and illegal action, quite possibly involving the FBI in widespread crimes and violation of Constitutional rights against Puerto Ricans from the 1930s to the 1990s. He stunned a congressional budget hearing by conceding that his agency had violated the civil rights of many Puerto Ricans over the years and had engaged in "egregious illegal action, maybe criminal action."

After Freehs public admission, The New York Times reported the following details about the FBI publicly admitting it had directed "tremendously destructive" efforts against the Puerto Rican Independence Party:

They include a 1961 directive from Mr. Hoover to seek information on 12 independence movement leaders, six of them operating in New York, "concerning their weaknesses, morals, criminal records, spouses, children, family life, educational qualifications and personal activities other than independence activities." The instructions were given under the domestic surveillance program known as COINTELPRO, which aimed at aggressively monitoring antiwar, leftist and other groups in the United States and disrupting them.

In the case of Puerto Rican independence groups, J. Edgar Hoovers 1961 memo refers to our efforts to disrupt their activities and compromise their effectiveness. Scholars say the papers provide invaluable additions to the recorded history of Puerto Rico. "I expect that this will alter somewhat the analysis of why independence hasnt made it, said Felix V. Matos Rodriguez, director of the center at Hunter. In the 1940s, independence was the second-largest political movement in the island, after support for commonwealth status, and a real alternative. But it was criminalized.

The existence of the FBI papers came to light during a US House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in 2000, when Representative Jose E. Serrano of New York questioned Louis J. Freeh, then FBI director, on the issue. Freeh gave the first public acknowledgment of the federal governments Puerto Rican surveillance and offered a mea culpa.

Your question goes back to a period, particularly in the 1960s, when the F.B.I. did operate a program that did tremendous destruction to many people, to the country and certainly to the F.B.I., Freeh said, according to transcripts of the hearing. Freeh said that he would make the files available and see if we can redress some of the egregious illegal action, maybe criminal action, that occurred in the past.".

The FBIs surveillance of persons and organizations advocating Puerto Ricos independence, was not only recognized by the FBIs top leadership, but was also detailed in 1.8 million documents, a fraction of which were released in 2000.


1.3. History 1970s

In 1971, the PIP gubernatorial candidate, Ruben Berrios led a protest against the US Navy in Culebra. During the 1972 elections, the PIP showed the largest growth in its history while running a democratic socialist, pro-worker, pro-poor campaign. One year later during a delegate assembly Ruben Berrios declared that the party was not presenting a Marxist–Leninist platform and took the matter to the PIPs assembly which voted in favor of the partys current stance in favor of social democracy. The Marxist–Leninist faction, called the "terceristas", split into several groups. The biggest of them went into the Popular Socialist Movement, while the rest went into the Puerto Rican Socialist Party.


1.4. History 1990s

In 1999, PIP leaders, especially Ruben Berrios, became involved in the Navy-Vieques protests started by many citizens of Vieques against the presence of the US military in the island-municipality see also: Cause of Vieques.


1.5. History 2008 election

During the 2008 elections, the PIP lost official recognition for the second time, obtaining 2.04% of the gubernatorial vote. Loss of recognition was official on 2 January 2009. The minimum vote percentage to keep official recognition is 3.0% as per the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico law. The party also lost both of its seats in the legislature, where they had one seat in each house.

In May 2009, the party submitted more than 100.000 signed petitions to the Puerto Ricos elections commission and regained legal status.


1.6. History 2012 election

During the 2012 elections, the PIP lost official recognition for the third time, obtaining 2.5% of the gubernatorial vote. Loss of recognition will be official on 2 January 2013. The minimum vote percentage to keep official recognition is 3.0% as per the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico law.


1.7. History 2016 election

For the 2016 election, Senator Maria de Lourdes Santiago was the partys nominee. She obtained 33.452 votes and came in fifth place, with 2.1% of the vote. Some of the senators main policies for the election are outlined below

  • Change the status of Puerto Rico to that of a Freely Associated State.
  • Merge the House of Representatives and the Senate into one unicameral chamber, whereby the members are elected by proportional representation.
  • Increase the basic teachers salary to $3.000 per month.
  • Universal healthcare through the National Health Plan.

2. International support

The PIP cause receives moral support by international organizations. Examples of these are the Socialist International the largest organization of political parties in the world, including fifteen political parties which are in power in Latin America. The government of Cuba also supports it, as well as the ex-president of Panama, Martin Torrijos, and a wide group of world-recognized writers and artists.

On 26 January 2007, the Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez joined other figures such as Mario Benedetti, Ernesto Sabato, Thiago de Mello, Eduardo Galeano, Carlos Monsivais, Pablo Armando Fernandez, Jorge Enrique Adoum, Pablo Milanes, Luis Rafael Sanchez, Mayra Montero and Ana Lydia Vega, in supporting independence for Puerto Rico and joining the Latin American and Caribbean Congress in Solidarity with Puerto Ricos Independence, which approved a resolution favoring the islands right to assert its independence, as ratified unanimously by political parties hailing from 22 countries in November 2006. Garcia Marquezs push for the recognition of Puerto Ricos independence was obtained at the behest of the Puerto Rican Independence Party. His pledge for support to the Puerto Rican Independence Movement was part of a wider effort that emerged from the Latin American and Caribbean Congress in Solidarity with Puerto Ricos Independence.


3. PIP anti-war mobilization and protests

As reported in numerous media, the PIPs leadership and active members participated in anti-war protests and mobilization to resist the Iraq War and oppose the U.S. governments efforts to encourage Puerto Ricans to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. The Washington Post wrote in August 2007 that "on this island with a long tradition of military service, pro-independence advocates are tapping the territorys growing anti-Iraq war sentiment to revitalize their cause. As a result, 57 percent of Puerto Ricos 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders, or their parents, have signed forms over the past year withholding contact information from the Pentagon. For five years, PIP has issued opt-out forms to about 120.000 students in Puerto Rico and encouraged them to sign - and independista activists expect this year to mark their most successful effort yet." The article also quoted Juan Dalmau, then-secretary general of the Puerto Rican Independence Party as saying: "if the death of a Puerto Rican soldier is tragic, its more tragic if that soldier has no say in that war and that he did not want the children of Puerto Rico to become "colonial cannon meat."

Another article in The Progressive also reported on PIPs anti-war activity. It was written three years earlier, in 2004, but it still noted that "some groups like the Puerto Rico Bar Association and the Independence Party have registered strong protests against the deployments. In an attempt to draw attention to Puerto Ricans lack of elected representatives, even the usually pro-U.S. statehood party has raised concerns about the disproportionate body count suffered by islanders." Two years later, it was reported that PIP, along with hundreds of other supporters of Puerto Rican independence "blocked the entrance to the U.S. Federal Courthouse here on Feb. 20 to denounce recent FBI raids against the homes and workplaces of. supporters of Puerto Rican independence. and the growing repression by the FBI against the independence movement in general." This demonstration reportedly marked the beginning of PIP "campaign to get the FBI out of Puerto Rico."


4. PIP stance on Puerto Ricos economic crisis and taxation system

During the 2005–2007 Puerto Rico economic crisis, the Puerto Rican Independence Party submitted various bills that would have taxed corporations making $1 million or more in annual net profits an extra ten percent above the average tax rate these corporations pay, which hovers around 5%. The PNP and the PPD parties amended the bill, taxing the corporations the traditional lower rate. Despite objections presented by the PIP, the PNP and PPD also allowed the companies to claim the additional tax as a credit on next years bill, making the "tax", in effect, a one-year loan. Puerto Rico has been said "There is no place in the territorial limits of the United States that provides such an advantageous base for exporters. Because of this, many US companies moved their headquarters and manufacturing facilities there. This is why the PNP and PPD believed the tax increase would exacerbate the problems


5. Party symbol

The flags green color stands for the hope of becoming free, and the white cross stands for the sacrifice and commitment of the party with democracy. The flags design is based on the first national flag ever flown by Puerto Ricans, which is also the current flag of the municipality of Lares, location where the first relatively successful attempt of revolutionary insurgency in Puerto Rico, called Grito de Lares, took place on 23 September 1868. The Lares flag is, on the other hand, similar to that of the Dominican Republic, since the Gritos mastermind, Ramon Emeterio Betances, not only admired the Dominican pro-independence struggle, but was also half-Dominican himself. The partys flag is based on the Nordic Cross flag design. Nordic Cross flags, or Latin cross flags, are a common design in Scandinavia and other parts of the world, and in theory, the PIPs emblem belongs to this family of flags.


6. Disfranchisement due to residence in Puerto Rico

United States citizens residing in the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico do not hold the right to vote in U.S. presidential elections. Although Puerto Rican residents elect a Resident Commissioner to the United States House of Representatives, that official may not participate in votes determining the final passage of legislation. Furthermore, Puerto Rico holds no representation of any kind in the United States Senate.

Both the Puerto Rican Independence Party and the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico officially oppose the islands political status quo and consider Puerto Ricos lack of federal representation to be disfranchisement. The remaining political organization, the Popular Democratic Party, is less active in its opposition of this case of disfranchisement but has officially stated that it favors fixing the remaining "deficits of democracy" that the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations have publicly recognized in writing through Presidential Task Force Reports.


7. Important party leaders

  • Fernando Martin – Executive President, former Senator
  • Roberto Ivan Aponte – Secretary of Municipal Organization
  • Jorge Fernandez Porto – Adviser on Environmental Sciences and Public Policy Affairs
  • Jessica Martinez – Member of Pro-Independence Advocates Campaign in Favor of a single, unicameral Parliament
  • Victor Garcia San Inocencio – Former Representative
  • Dr. Luis Roberto Piñero – President of the Pro-Independence Advocates Campaign in favor of unifying both Houses of the Legislature into a single, unicameral Parliament
  • Juan Dalmau Ramirez – Secretary General & Electoral Commissioner
  • David Noriega – Former Representative. Gubernatorial candidate in 1996 general elections. He resigned from the party in the late 1990s.
  • Prof. Edwin Irizarry Mora – Secretary of Economic Affairs
  • Ruben Berrios – President, former Senator and Honorary President of the Socialist International SI
  • Manuel Rodriguez Orellana – Secretary of Relations with North America
  • Maria de Lourdes Santiago Negron – Vice-President, Senator
  • Dr. Gilberto Concepcion de Gracia – Founding President and respected Latin American Leader