The Ponce Massacre Museum is a building that served as the headquarters of the Nationalist Party in the 1930s. The events known as the Ponce Massacre took place at this site in 1937. The violence broke out when a group of nationalist militants conducted a peaceful march in support of their leader, Pedro Albizu Campos, who was imprisoned at the time. The demonstrators, who had decided to go ahead with the march although the authorities had revoked their permit, met police in a bloody confrontation.
The police killed nineteen people and injured another 150 to 200 in the incident. After the historic events, in which the slogan “Long live the Republic, down with the assassins” was written on the house’s wall in blood, an investigation was begun. As a result, the following men were tried: Luis Castro Quesada, Julio Pinto Gandía, Lorenzo Piñeiro, (interim president and secretary general of the Nationalist Party), Plinio Graciani, Tomás López de Victoria, Casimiro Berenguer, Martín González Ruíz, Elifaz Escobar, Luis Angel Correa, Santiago González and Orlando Colón Leyro. Puerto Rican lawyers Felipe Colón Díaz, Víctor Gutiérrez Franqui, Miguel Bahamonde and Ernesto Ramos Antonini defended the accused. The United States government, for its part, appointed the American Civil Liberties Union, led by Arthur Garfield Hays, to investigate the events. It was the Hays Committee, as the investigating group from the United States was known, that declared the act a massacre.
The Puerto Rico government acquired the historic residence and converted it into the Ponce Massacre Museum. Under the direction of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, the museum preserves and exhibits photographs, documents and other historic materials related to the event. It also organizes various permanent and temporary exhibits about the political history of Puerto Rico, as well as lectures, conferences and other cultural activities.
The two-story structure is a mix of wood and brick construction. On the second floor is a picturesque balcony with balustrades. On the wall where a stairway was formerly located is a porthole that allows light to enter the interior. The house had originally been the shoemaking workshop of nationalist Casimiro Berenguer.
The museum is located on Marina Street at the corner of Aurora Street in Ponce and is open to the public on Wednesday through Sunday.
Adapted by PROE Editorial Group
Original source: Ponce: ciudad museo, 2001. Proyecto subvencionado por la Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades.
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 10, 2010.
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