History / The Ponce Massacre (1937)
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After the Massacre

Versión español
Acusados en juicio por la Masacre de Ponce en 1937
On March 22, Governor Winship, in statements to the press, said that the Nationalists were responsible for the tragedy. Attorney Rafael V. Pérez Marchand, the district attorney, managed to carry out an extensive investigation of the facts and ordered the arrest of four police officers for the crime of murder and 23 Nationalists for participation in the riot. Winship’s government exerted pressure on the district attorney to amend the report and Pérez Marchand resigned his post after concluding the report of his investigation.

A number of citizens of Ponce requested that the American Civil Liberties Union investigate what happened on March 21. An Investigating Commission on the causes of the Ponce Massacre was established, presided over by Atty. Arthur Garfield Hays, a US citizen delegated by the ACLU, with Emilio S. Belaval, the president of the Ateneo Puertorriqueño (Puerto Rico Atheneum), Mariano Acosta Velarde, the president of the Puerto Rico Bar Association, Fulgencio Piñero, the president of the Teachers Association, Francisco M. Zeno, the editor of La Correspondencia newspaper, Antonio Ayuso Valdivieso, the director of El Imparcial newspaper, José Dávila Ricci, of El Mundo newspaper, and Manuel Díaz García, a former president of the Medical Association. The commission carried out an exhaustive investigation of the facts and in its report placed the blame on Governor Winship. It referred to the happenings as the Ponce Massacre.

The commission found that the cadets were not carrying arms, that the police surrounded the cadets, enclosing them on all four sides, and that they did not leave room for the crowd to seek protection. However, the government accused Nationalists Luis Castro Quesada, Julio Pinto Gandía, Lorenzo Piñeiro, the acting president and general secretary 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 of murder. In the trial set for February 1938, the Nationalists were defended by Attys. Ernesto Ramos Antonini, Felipe Colón Díaz, Víctor Gutiérrez Franqui, and Miguel Bahamonde. Attys. Francisco García Quiñones and Pedro Rodríguez Serra were the district attorneys, and Judge Roberto H. Todd, Jr., the presiding judge. The jury could not come to an agreement and all the Nationalists were absolved.

Autor: Marisa Rosado
Published: September 12, 2014.

Page: 1, 2,

Version: 06102005 Rev. 1
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Agrarian Reform of 1941
Crime in Puerto Rico
On Municipal Autonomy I
Ponce: Former Spanish Military Hospital / Home for the Blind
Ponce: Ponce Massacre Museum
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