Mark Drobnick
Mark Drobnick

Nelson A. Denis' "War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution & Terror in America's Colony"

Nelson Denis' "Puerto Ricans..." Book 
<<< 382 pages total --- Text = 261 pp. >>>


"This is not a pretty story.  If it helps you to understand the world in which we live, then I have done my job.  The rest is up to you."  Ibid. p. xiii, ¶ last.  

     In other words, Denis wants you to connect the dots.  So, okay then, let's fasten our seat belts.  Now here we go,...



Item:  Does today's Planned Parenthood connected to retail profiting from the sale of dissected, fetal baby parts bother you?  Well, let's step back half a century to discover something just as macabre and sinister.  Here, U.S. EUGENICS policy, arbitrarily mandated the sterilizing of its own adult citizens, and, without their knowledge nor informed consent!


Item:  Institutionalized RACISM in U.S. Government!  And, it's directed against a "minority" which group may not have been on your mind as a likely candidate.  Hint:  victimization has nothing to do with skin color.


Item:  Under USA democracy, how much political dissent is permissible before it becomes branded as SEDITION, in modern times?  How one such leader agitating for his party's viewpoint is condemned by the status quo and removed from power is minutely reported by Denis.  It couldn't happen here?  To the contrary!  Oh yes, and it did happen here.


Item:  Does BLACKMAIL  as a device to enable Washington DC's continued implementation of political policy in one of its territories, sound too Machiavellian?  Regardless, it was utilized and impacted upon the political future of millions of U.S. citizens.  Denis identifies a high-ranking elected executive, who served as puppet to FBI Hoover's treatment, in pursuance of the goals of federal policy makers.


Item:  TORTURE of U.S. citizens by U.S. military personnel on American soil is documented!  We've heard, since 9-11, about instances of water boarding at Gitmo and other U.S. bases against foreign terrorists.  Here, Denis relates waterboarding practiced decades prior, and electrical shock, to extract information considered vital in continuing to maintain Puerto Rico as a colony.  


Item:  It's shocking that the U.S. ever chose to BOMB its own CITIZENS utilizing our Air Force, but this indeed has happened during one, singular, exclusive, and infamous, military campaign, as of our now being well into our third century as a nation.  

The executive running our country then, may have been perceived by some factions as being exceedingly "trigger happy".  That's because this wasn't his first experience signing on to unprecedented, aerial bombardment of a highly unusual and controversial nature.


Item:  PATENT opportunities are available for inventors in two, consumer, widely popular, product areas.  Architects need design passive-convection cooling, non-heat sink exterior, housing for the masses.  Chemists may formulate a crack-free, automotive dashboard compound to withstand Puerto Rico's intense, Hawaii-like, solar radiation.


Here's my book review of salient points, and somewhat impromptu.  After finishing, you may even wonder what "non-impromptu" signifies, in my lexicon.  


Denis' book is of added relevance and cogency for me, as I have resided on that same insular, colonial, geographical plot, for 12 years time.  Further, my wife whom I know for more than two decades, is born and raised there.  And, all our three children have some of their upbringing there.  Moreover, the two oldest, boys, also are born there.



My elder son, a couple of years ago, during a political campaign of mine, answered the question of a local politician's wife, put to him.  She asked, in essence, "what do you aspire to when you're grown up"?  Number One son answered instantly:  "I'm going to be President!"  Good for you, Mark 3!


Yeah, it's true he's born in Puerto Rico.  And kindly note, all Puerto Ricans are American citizens as of year 1917, so he Constitutionally qualifies.  


That's "birthers" to the contrary, like Donald Trump, notwithstanding.  In fact, we've got another strong, Presidential contender these days, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, born in Calgary, Canada.  Okay,...  


Well, that neighboring country to the north, in my lifetime and before, always did seem to be one with us.  This relationship dynamic is probably unwaveringly dependable, ever since May 1865:  when Lincoln's successor was assembling our post-Civil War government.  


And, until very recently, you had only to flash an i.d., e.g. driver's license, at the border so that, easily, across you went.  Customs officials probably would only ask, how long you planned to stay.  In fact, Canada's been rated as the most friendly country on earth, vis-a-vis, Americans.  I have no information to challenge such assessment.


As for the "birther"-type issue, I shall also make comment on "Romney 1" and Senator McCain.  When I was a kid, Michigan Governor Romney's campaign for the White House hit a snag when detractors made an issue of where he was born.  I recall his birthplace as having been the Mexican embassy.  His father had been an U.S. diplomat.  So, that became a sticky issue, in his time.  (Yeah, I'm referring to Mitt's dad.)


Of late, how the dynamic has changed!  During BHO's first Presidential run, no attention was paid to where McCain was born, except to remark upon it same as, sky is blue and grass is green.  That is, he drew no flak whatsoever for having been born at the Panama Canal, upon an U.S. naval vessel it was, I believe.


Anyhow, I got off on this tangent thinking about my son's political future.  And, again, as he's born on "Borinquen" and has spent some years there, and, around his maternal family, it helps bring me to point.  So now, directly to the book.



I shall focus upon sensational aspects of Puerto Rico's, hitherto unknown to me, history.  A certain Puerto Rican actress and Mr. Denis' book are the two instrumentalities of my "illumination".  I thank them both.


As above referenced, in spite of my personal experience of a decade and then some, so is all the more remarkable, my previous unawareness of certain controversies, until only in the last half-year or so.  Ms. Rosie Perez' very good documentary (year 2006) on Neoyorquinos and their roots in the commonwealth, signals the commencement of my edification.  


In particular, I learned from her about large-scale, Puerto Rican women's involuntary sterilization, and, the persecution of Harvard-educated lawyer (and chemical engineer), Nationalist leader Señor Pedro Albizu Campos.  Eugenics and American imperialism, respectively, are the most succinct explanations for both.



Mr. Denis has christened his research work with an excellent, hook title.  Thus, no one could pass his book in the library or bookstore, or anywhere else, without at least momentarily pausing, to consider its message and content.  "War Against All Puerto Ricans:  Revolution and Terror in America's Colony"!  By Nelson A. Denis (Nation Books Publ., NY; 2015).


[Title] Immediately begs some questions.  1.  Who is the aggressor waging war?  2.  What kind of war[fare]?  3.  What revolution?  4.  Terrorism?  Please elaborate.  You mean like 9-11?



Similar to Albizu Campos, Denis is an Ivy-league educated, law school graduate.  He has served as elected politician, serving four years at the New York statehouse.  He is a prolific writer, and, of late, a screenplay author and director.


Now, where is the book going?  What is its agenda?  The quote beginning this report is helpful in answering.  Further, note who is the publisher.  Then, consider a particular aspect of Denis' personal family history and tragedy.


It is at the age of eight that he decided to become a lawyer, so as to protect himself from getting pushed around and victimized.  The trauma sparking him was what had happened then to his father.  


He and parents lived in New York city.  Father was Cuban and mother Puerto Rican.  

During the days of the Cuban missile crisis, U.S. government agents came to his home to arrest his dad.  Father was being charged with espionage.  The author's dad, Antonio Denis Jordán, was allowed no due process.


The allegation had been that he was a suspected, Cuban G-2 agent in New York City.  In fact, he was an elevator operator and member of the janitors' union.


While Denis Sr. was indeed a Cuban patriot, pro-Revolution, and anti-Batista, he was not a spy, according to the author.  The authorities took his dad away and Nelson never saw nor heard of him again.  Presumably, Denis Sr. was deported to Havana.



I already knew that Puerto Rico had come under the American flag as of 1898, in the wake of the Spanish-American war.  Additional U.S. acquisitions from the same campaign included Cuba (which went its own way in less than ten years), and Philippines (went independent upon close of WW II, 1945).  


Point of information:  if you snap (monochromatic) black & white photos of both the Cuban and Puerto Rican flags to compare, they become indistinguishable!  That's because they display identical patterns.  Getting back to "Kodachrome", they also are composed of virtually the same tri-colors.  Where each hue is located is all that differs.



Mr. Denis covers topics which definitely need to be more widely publicized to the world at large:



     1st.  The involuntary, non-consented to, STERILIZATION of one-third of Puerto Rican island, child-bearing-age WOMEN, carried out from the mid-1940's thru the 1970's [is described].  How far reaching in scope is this, is assessed by noting that this program constitutes the HIGHEST incidence of female sterilization in the world!


Perhaps it was the advent of President Jimmy Carter's administration, with his emphasis upon human rights, which put an end to such practice.  That the clandestine program ever began in the first place, and under our laws and culture, are the real shock and tragedy.


The question of importance is, what have we evolved into now?  In these days of planned parenthood with the marketing and sale of extracted, aborted fetal baby parts, tissues, and organs, let's make a comparison.  Of course, now smacks of Nazism and nihilistic disregard for the importance of human life.  So, what could be worse?  


Well, here it is:  this is it.  I think Mr. Denis (and his predecessor on the same theme, Rosie Perez) have alerted us to something which aspires to just as grave an evil against the sanctity of human life.  




Talking of eugenics, here is a startling quote from Denis' text.  It emanates from a history professor at Andover Academy in the years leading up to implementation of the Puerto Rican sterilization program.  (Coincidentally, the Bush bros., as in "(past) U.S. President & current contender", received their prep school formation at Andover, albeit in more modern times.  Here is where some of the ideology they hold dear, was inculcated into them.)


"...[We must prevent N]ational deterioration.  Among the so-called upper and leisure classes, noticeably among the university group, the present birth rate is strikingly low.  On the other hand, among the Slavonic and Latin immigrants, it is relatively high.  We seem thus to be letting the best blood thin out and disappear."  Ibid. p. 34, ¶2.


For the record, let me state that I highly resent, and take offense with, this last, unexpurgated, philosophical vomit.  I am one who scored 35 on the ACT math (36 is perfect, nationwide), for example, among numerous scholastic achievements.  More to the point, I also pursued physician studies at the University of Illinois Medical School, up to National Boards Part I.


By the way, "Genetics" was one of our M.D. classes.  And, in my case, it constituted, in part, recapitulation of the Genetics course I had mastered as an undergraduate, at least insofar as to the diploid portion.  Nevertheless, my paternal grandparents are Slovenian---same nationality as Donald Trump's wife, coincidentally---and my maternal grandparents, Polish.


Boy oh boy, what it takes to get ahead in politics in the USA!  What a load of crayola! 


If comedian Steve Martin's white suited, happy-go-lucky, banjo playing alter-ego was here, advocating for me, then he might respond to the attack on my ethnicity with his trademark rejoinder.  "Well, excu-UUUUUUUUUUUUU-se me-EEEEE!" (for being Slavonic).


And, as already mentioned, Trump's wife is Slovenian.  Further, note that Jeb Bush's wife is Mexican.  Significance?  As Bob Dylan would say:  "The Times They Are A-changin'".



     2nd.  This was carried out by local police on Palm Sunday of aforesaid year.  Families had gathered nearby to the city's main plaza---present day site of famous tourist attraction, "Parque de Bomberos" (yesteryear fire station)---where a peaceable assembly had gathered to watch a parade.  Marching, were the Cadets of the Republic, a Puerto Rican nationalist organization.


They were admonished right there at the outset, but went ahead anyway.  They refused to disperse.  The band struck up "La Borinqueña" (today's accepted, Puerto Rican, national anthem; sounds quite beautiful played on Puerto Rican, stringed cuatro).


If you ever saw the scene in Bogart's "Casablanca" where refugees challenge the Nazis at Rick's Cafe, by striking up a chorus of France's "La Marseillaise" (that's also the intro to Beatles' "All You Need Is Love", in case collateral reference helps to i.d.), then you get the idea.  But, the movie had a happy resolution, whereas quite the contrary played out in Ponce.  


A shot was fired; then transpired 13 minutes of bloodshed.  In the wake lay bodies of 19 people shot dead, including females (of whom one was a seven-year-old), and, two police.


As reported by newspapers, there are two versions of how it all happened.  Depends upon whether you refer to island newspapers, or those of the mainland in "the lower 48".  


Come down the renditions, two ways.  The island defended its natives.  Mainland toed the line for Uncle Sam.


Specifically, island news portrayed events as the massacre of innocent victims.  In contrast, e.g., New York Times and Washington Post whitewashed the bloodshed as having been a "political riot" and "uprising", which USA's agents had been forced to quell.


But, there's an ultimate truth finder.  It's known as the Hays Commission, under the aegis of the ACLU.  Final verdict:  Puerto Ricans told the truth.  U.S. imperialism and its public relations, [were guilty of] mendacity, and worse.


     3rd.  "It's only Chinatown", like the attitude and ambiance from the Polanski/ Huston/ Nicholson movie, sums up a main theme from Denis' book.  It explains Washington DC's treatment of how Puerto Rico is politically administered. 


There's a double standard in place.  One applies to the Anglo exploiter.  Another is worked upon the victimized islander.


The island is of strategic advantage to our military.  And, it's a political plum for well-placed and connected, patronage, American politicians and bankers, especially during its first 55 years under the USA flag.  


Exploitation still persists but has morphed into a different guise in modern times.  So, even the Estado Libre Asociado (Puerto Rican) constitution of 1952, decries Denis, isn't worth the paper it's written on.  It is "fraudulent".  Harvard Political Review, Vol. V, #2, Winter 1977. 


Domino Sugar corporation, founded by the House of Morgan (NY) and Puerto Rico's first civilian governor (a former U.S. congressman) supplants the island's tobacco industry and takes over its arable land.  By the way, Bayamón, one of Puerto Rico's major cities, had its beginnings in the tobacco trade.  But, you wouldn't know it today (now nicknamed chicharrón city).  The transition to sugar was in the days of banker J. Pierpont Morgan.  


Interestingly, Morgan also was a patron of inventor Thomas A. Edison.  Now, as for Edison, here's an object lesson in nurturing creativity.  His formal education, total, encompassed no more than three months, lifetime.  Nevertheless, by career's end, he had on file with the U.S. government, patent registrations to protect one thousand (1,000) of his inventions!


As for Morgan, here's an interesting aside on how super-bankers may become all the more wealthy.  When there's a lull in your country, go and finance foreign wars!


So it is that J.P.'s father, also a banker, and, who taught his son the trade, made a "killing" (no pun intended) in the Crimean War.  Yeah, it's true that the conflict was waged on foreign ground between non-USA combatants, namely Great Britain and Russia.  But, that only spelled opportunity for American "Pierpont the 1st" during the mid-19th century.





{posted 21 September 2015}




Mark Drobnick


Waukegan, Illinois  USA


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