Hiram Rosado

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Hiram Rosado
Hiram Rosado.jpg
Hiram Rosado (1936)
Born 1911
Ciales, Puerto Rico
Died February 23, 1936
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Nationality Puerto Rican
Political party Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
Movement Puerto Rican Independence

Hiram Rosado (1911-February 23, 1936) was a member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party who, together with fellow Nationalist Elías Beauchamp, participated in the assassination of Elisha Francis Riggs, the United States appointed police chief of Puerto Rico. Both men were arrested and without receiving a fair trial were executed by the police at the police headquarters in San Juan. News of the assassinations spread throughout the United States and lead to legislative proposal by U.S. Senator Millard Tydings, to grant independence to Puerto Rico.

Early years

Rosado (birth name: Hiram Rosado Ayala [note 1]) was born in the town of Ciales, Puerto Rico . There he received his primary and secondary education. Rosado enjoyed reading and his father, Pedro Rosado would often buy him books. Rosado also had a passion for music and played the violin.[1] After he graduated, Rosado went to work for a company called FERA where he became a supervisor.[1]

Puerto Rican Nationalist Party

The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party was founded by José Coll y Cuchí as a direct response to the American colonial government in 1919, By the 1920s, there were two other pro-independence organizations in the Island, they were the "Nationalist Youth" and the "Independence Association of Puerto Rico". On September 17, 1922, the two political organizations merged into the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. In 1924, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos joined the party and on May 11, 1930, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos was elected president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party.[2]

Rosado was interested in the cause for Puerto Rican independence and joined the Nationalist Party. He became a member of the Cadets of the Republic (Cadetes de la Republica) where he befriended fellow cadet Elías Beauchamp. The cadets was a quasi-military youth organization of the Nationalist Party also known as the "Liberation Army of Puerto Rico".[3]

Events leading to a massacre

In 1931, the U.S.-appointed Governor of Puerto Rico, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. named Dr. Carlos E. Chardón as Chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico. In 1935, Chardón initiated a project based on the ideas of Luis Muñoz Marín, who at the time was a Senator in the Puerto Rican legislature and member of the Liberal Party of Puerto Rico. It was known as the Reconstruction of Puerto Rico Project. The plan, which was within the New Deal criteria established by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression, was well received and became known as Plan Chardón.[4]

On October 20, 1935, in a political meeting which the Nationalist Party held in the town of Maunabo and which was transmitted by radio, Albizu Campos denounced Chardón, the university deans and the Liberal Party as traitors, saying they wanted to convert the university into an "American" propaganda institution.[5]

On October 23, 1935, a group of students at the university who supported Chardón began to collect signatures for a petition to declare Albizu Campos "Student Enemy Number One." In turn, a protest against the group by the pro-Nationalist faction of students denounced Chardón and the Liberal Party as agents of the United States.[6]

The Río Piedras massacre

Don Pedro Albizu Campos in 1936

On October 24, 1935, a student assembly held at the university declared Albizu Campos as "persona non grata." Chardón requested that the governor provide armed police officers on the university grounds, in case the situation turned violent. Two police officers spotted a "suspicious-looking vehicle" and asked the driver, Ramón S. Pagán, and his friend Pedro Quiñones, for identification. A struggle ensued, and the police killed Pagán and Quiñones. According to the local newspaper "El Mundo" of Oct. 25th, an explosion, followed by gunfire, was heard resulting in the additional deaths of Eduardo Rodríguez Vega and José Santiago Barea. Elisha Francis Riggs, a former Colonel in the United States Army, was the United States appointed police chief of Puerto Rico.[6]>[1]

An eyewitness, Isolina Rondón, testified that she saw the police officers shooting at the victims and heard one police officer screaming "not to let them escape alive." Her testimony was ignored, and no charges were filed against the police officers. The Río Piedras massacre left four men dead.[3][7]

The assassination of Elisha F. Riggs

Colonel Elisha Francis Riggs was born in Georgetown, a historic neighborhood located in northwest Washington, D.C.. Riggs was a former officer in the United States Army who was appointed Chief of Police of Puerto Rico in 1933, by Blanton Winship, the U.S. appointed governor of Puerto Rico. He was an unpopular police chief, stemming from his decisions to repress the growing sugar cane labor movement and the Nationalist Pro-Independence Movement.[8]

The Río Piedras Massacre enraged the nationalists including Rosado and Beauchamps. The nationalists believed that Elisha F. Riggs was responsible since Riggs was the police chief of Puerto Rico and the entire Insular Police took their orders from Riggs. Beauchamps decided to retaliate with the help of Rosado.[9]

On Sunday, February 23, 1936, Elisha F. Riggs had attended mass in the Church of Santa Ana in San Juan. When the mass was over, Riggs stepped out of the church and got into his car, a Packard, driven by Angel Alvarez, a police officer. Rosado knew the route which Riggs would normally take and waited. When Riggs' car reached the corner of Allen and Gambaro Streets, Rosado came out of his hideout and began shooting towards Riggs. Rosado then made a run for it, but was soon captured by Alvarez. All the while, Riggs got out of his car and began asking for the declarations of those who witnessed the attempt on his life. He was suddenly approached by Beauchamps who said:

" I saw everything, Colonel, I saw everything"

Believing that he had a witness to the events Riggs told Beauchamps that he was headed to the police station and to accompany him. Beauchamps boarded Riggs chauffeured car and shot Riggs in the head killing him instantly.[2] Beauchamp tried to escape and hid inside "Rodriguez y Palacios", a warehouse in Tetuan Street.[1] Both men were arrested and taken to the San Juan police headquarters located in 305 San Francisco Street.

They were not given a fair trial, instead Beauchamps and Rosado were both gunned down in the police station.[10] Beauchamps died immediately and Rosado was transferred to a local hospital. In the hospital his last words to a nurse where:

" How many bullets do I have? My chest hurts a little."

He later died of the gun wounds which he received. In the aftermath of the killings, the police claimed that the nationalists were shot because they attempted to escape. None of the police officers involved were demoted or suspended.[1]

The news of the assassination of Elisha F. Riggs spread throughout the United States. At that time Puerto Rican Senator, Luis Muñoz Marín, was in Washington, D.C. and Ernest Gruening, the administrator of the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration (1935–1937), asked him to condemn Riggs' assassination. Muñoz Marín told Gruening that he would do so only if he was also allowed to condemn the police for murdering the Nationalists in the city police station without a trial.[9]

Post assassination

After Riggs' assassination, many Nationalist Party leaders were imprisoned. Members of the Puerto Rican independence movement came under greater scrutiny and persecution. Among the leaders arrested was Pedro Albizu Campos,[3] These leaders were charged with having "conspired to overthrow" the U.S. government on the island. They were tried in Boston, Massachusetts, as that federal district court had jurisdiction for Puerto Rico. The first trial jury refused to convict, and ended in a hung jury. A second jury was picked, consisting solely of "Anglo-Americans." This jury found every Nationalist charged to be "guilty".[11]

The bodies of both nationalists were returned to their respective families. They were both buried in graves located side by side in the Cementerio Municipal (municipal cemetery) San Jose de Villa Palmeras located in Avenida Eduardo Conde, Villa Palmeras, Santurce, Puerto Rico.[12]

Further reading

  • "Puerto Rico: Independence Is a Necessity"; by: Rafael Cancel Miranda (Author); Publisher: Pathfinder Press (NY); Booklet edition (February 1, 2001); ISBN 978-0-87348-895-2
  • "Sembrando Patria...Y Verdades"; by: Rafael Cancel Miranda (Author); Publisher: Cuarto Idearo (January 1, 1998); ASIN: B001CK17D6
  • "War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony"; Author: Nelson Antonio Denis; Publisher: Nation Books (April 7, 2015); ISBN 978-1568585017.

See also


  1. ^ This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Rosado  and the second or maternal family name is Ayala.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Latino History and Culture: An Encyclopedia" ; By David J. Leonard, Carmen R. Lugo-Lugo; Publisher: Sharpe Reference; 1st edition (2010) ; ISBN 0765680831ISBN 978-0765680839.
  2. ^ a b Luis Muñoz Marín, By A. W. Maldonado, Pg. 86, Publisher: La Editorial, Universidad de Puerto Rico , (December 1, 2006), ISBN 0-8477-0158-1, ISBN 978-0-8477-0158-2
  3. ^ a b c "pr-secretfiles.net" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 November 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2016. 
  4. ^ Dr. Delma S. Arrigoitia, Puerto Rico Por Encima de Todo: Vida y Obra de Antonio R. Barcelo, 1868-1938; p. 292; Publisher: Ediciones Puerto (January 2008); ISBN 978-1-934461-69-3
  5. ^ Arrigoitia (2008), Puerto Rico Por Encima de Todo, p. 305
  6. ^ a b Arrigoitia (2008), Puerto Rico Por Encima de Todo, p. 306
  7. ^ "Isolina Rondón", testimony, Peace Host
  8. ^ "War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony"; Author: Nelson Antonio Denis; Publisher: Nation Books (April 7, 2015); ISBN 978-1568585017.
  9. ^ a b Bosque Pérez, Ramón (2006). Puerto Rico Under Colonial Rule. SUNY Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-7914-6417-5. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  10. ^ "The Puerto Ricans: A Documentary History"; by: Markus Wiener Publishers; 2008; Page 179
  11. ^ Historical Timeline, PR Dream
  12. ^ Find a Grave
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