“When tyranny is law revolution is order.” – Pedro Albizu Campos, 1932
Like most of the nearly 2 million Puerto Ricans growing up in New York City in the 1980s, I had never heard the name Pedro Albizu Campos. It wasn’t until 1998, at a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the United States’ takeover of Puerto Rico, that I found a photocopied, out-of-print biography: Albizu Campos: Puerto Rican Revolutionary. I was amazed; A Harvard-educated lawyer and the self-proclaimed president of Puerto Rico?! The mastermind behind an attempted assassination of President Truman, yet a man described repeatedly as a “saint” by those who knew him? How could I not have known about this man? Why has he been erased from history? It was at that point that I decided to one-day answer the question: Who is Albizu Campos?
Terrorist or Patriot? Albizu is an intimate documentary portrait of one mans life long struggle to liberate his country from foreign rule. It tells the story of a Harvard-educated lawyer and family man who spent over 25 years of his life rotating in an out of U.S. prisons, never compromising his vision of a free Puerto Rico. In scene after incredible scene we discover what compelled Albizu to challenge American rule and the crushing consequences that followed. In addition to taking on the U.S. Albizu contends with his own struggles for acceptance, with his faith, with rival political parties but most of all he struggles against his own outrage. The story of Pedro Albizu Campos is one of the quintessential stories of the Americas, both Latin America and the U.S., his struggle for a free Puerto Rico encapsulates Latin America’s struggle for autonomy and self-reliance from foreign interests.
Albizu follows Don Pedro’s revolutionary career, providing a complex and intriguing character study of a man both lionized by political activists and condemned by academic critics. Regarded as the “Puerto Rican Malcolm X” – El Maestro – (The Teacher) as he was affectionately known, would become the symbol of Puerto Rican identity, culture and resistance to his admirers, and the face of intolerance and violence to those who opposed him.The compelling story of Albizu’s unswerving mission to liberate Puerto Rico will also resonate with a global community wrestling with issues of terrorism, cultural identity, and national self-determination today.
My mission as a filmmaker has been to create art that educates and inspires social change, and this film has extensive educational possibilities. Despite the immensity of Albizu Campos’ legacy and the impact that he had in the United States and Puerto Rico, there are no English language books currently in circulation about the subject. This project will be a main source of information for an entire generation of English speaking Latinos, public school educators, and students of every level of study in political science, philosophy, history and sociology. This film has the potential to impact both national and international audiences, as it simultaneously explores key moments in the social, political and cultural histories of the United States, Puerto Rico and Latin America.