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Black Flag Boricuas

Anarchism, Antiauthoritarianism, and the Left in Puerto Rico, 1897-1921

Kirwin R. Shaffer

Publication Year: 2013

This pathbreaking study examines the radical Left in Puerto Rico from the final years of Spanish colonial rule into the 1920s. Positioning Puerto Rico within the context of a regional anarchist network that stretched from Puerto Rico and Cuba to Tampa, Florida, and New York City, Kirwin R. Shaffer illustrates how anarchists linked their struggle to the broader international anarchist struggles against religion, governments, and industrial capitalism. Their groups, speeches, and press accounts--as well as the newspapers that they published--were central in helping to develop an anarchist vision for Puerto Ricans at a time when the island was a political no-man's-land, neither an official U.S. colony or state nor an independent country.

Published by: University of Illinois Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4


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pp. 5-9


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

Many people and institutions provided insight and support for this book. First of all, thanks to Mary, Nathaniel, and Hannah; you put up with a lot. I wish to thank my numerous colleagues around the world who are central to the renewed historical interest in anarchism and whose questions, comments, and suggestions personally, electronically, and at conferences helped to shape this work: ...

Abbreviations and Style Notes

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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv-xviii

For days, tensions had been building in the small, east-central Puerto Rican city of Caguas. Tobacco workers across the island were on strike, and anarchists in Caguas were spearheading the efforts there. Juan Vilar was a teacher and organizer in the Caguas Centro de Estudios Sociales (CES)—a center founded by anarchists and other leftists to raise consciousness among the city’s workers and offer alternative education to their children. ...

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Introduction: Cultural Politics and Transnational Anarchism in Puerto Rico

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pp. 1-22

Today, in the latest manifestation of capitalist globalization, the traveler to the Caribbean more likely visits the islands to vacation than to work, more likely luxuriates in the bounty acquired from global capitalism than organizes to fight against global capitalism, more likely tries to forget the mindless bickering of politicians and religious pundits on the television ...

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1. The Roots of Anarchism and Radical Labor Politics in Puerto Rico, 1870s–1899

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pp. 23-45

Since February 1895, Spanish soldiers had been chasing independence fighters around Cuba. For the third time in thirty years, men and women of all colors rose up against Spanish colonial rule. But it was not just the Cuban-born who sided with those seeking a violent repeal of European imperialism. ...

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2. Radicals and Reformers: Anarchists, Electoral Politics, and the Unions, 1900–1910

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pp. 46-75

The pool of political candidates kept growing as Puerto Rico entered a new election cycle in 1906. Mainstream candidates for the island legislature and municipalities campaigned around the island in late summer. These candidates were primarily retooled versions of the old autonomy parties from 1898. But other political players were emerging. ...

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3. Anarchist Alliances, Government Repression: Education, Freethinkers, and CESs, 1909–1912

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pp. 76-91

It seemed that every week new faces were joining old radical stalwarts. Single men as well as couples were walking through the doors of the nondescript building that housed the Caguas Centro de Estudios Sociales near the center of town. They came for a number of reasons—some to hear a speaker or watch a play, a few to discuss labor issues and conditions in the tobacco factories, ...

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4. Anarchists, Freethinkers, and Spiritists: The Progressive Alliance against the Catholic Church, 1909–1912

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pp. 92-105

For almost two years, Belén de Sárraga had been traveling the hemisphere, speaking on freedom, freedom of speech, the need for women’s freedom for society to progress, and, above all, on the antihuman horrors perpetrated by the Roman Catholic Church. Cuba had been the latest stop on her triumphant anticlerical, free-thought speaking tour of the Americas. ...

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5. Radicalism Imagined: Leftist Culture, Gender, and Revolutionary Violence, 1900–1920

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pp. 106-122

By the 1910s, Santiago Iglesias and the FLT leadership had flirted off and on with formal electoral politics. At the 1910 FLT congress, delegates had voted to abandon this course of action after disastrous electoral results—and not a little internal criticism from anarchists within the FLT. As a result, the union recommitted itself to the economic struggle. ...

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6. Politics of the Bayamón Bloc and the Partido Socialista: Anarchism and Socialism in the 1910s

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pp. 123-140

In early February 1916, workers belonging to the Bayamón FLT were celebrating at an assembly inside their hall. Strikes were disrupting the island, and the union saw this as a time to rejoice and strategize for the future. Speakers rose to offer congratulations to fellow radicals across the island and across the aisle in the hall. ...

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7. El Comunista: Radical Journalism and Transnational Anarchism, 1920–1921

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pp. 141-166

The Bolshevik Revolution played havoc with the world’s leftist movements. Anarchists, socialists, and communists from various ideological tendencies looked with wonder at events unfolding in Russia in late 1917 and afterward. As Schmidt and van der Walt note, the Bolsheviks “seemed far to the left of the old Labour and Socialist International, ...

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Conclusion and Epilogue: Anarchist Antiauthoritarianism in a U.S. Colony, 1898–2011

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pp. 167-180

Global anarchism was in the throes of demise in much of the world by 1921, falling under the onslaught of authoritarian repression across the globe. The Bolsheviks clamped down on anarchists throughout Russia and Ukraine, paralleling the Red Scare repression unleashed in the United States and Puerto Rico on anarchists at the same time. ...


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pp. 181-198


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pp. 199-212


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pp. 213-220

E-ISBN-13: 9780252094903
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252037641

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013