The Trans-Latin American Odysseys of Laura Meneses and Carlos Padilla, Supporters of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party

Saturday, January 7, 2017: 2:10 PM
Room 603 (Colorado Convention Center)
Margaret Power, Illinois Institute of Technology
In the 1950s, Carlos Padilla, a Puerto Rican Nationalist and Laura Meneses, a Peruvian and wife of Pedro Albizu Campos, the leader of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party (PRPN) separately represented the party across Latin America. In this paper I analyze the activities each one of them carried out to generate Latin American solidarity with Puerto Rican sovereignty and imprisoned members of the party. Meneses worked in Peru, Mexico, and Cuba, while Padilla concentrated his efforts in Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador.

I will examine four key issues. First, I discuss the transcontinental efforts of the PRPN to work with revolutionary, progressive, and nationalist, forces throughout the Americas to further the twin goals of freeing all Nationalist political prisoners and securing solidarity with Puerto Rican independence. Second, I examine the trans Latin American anti-imperialist networks and exiles that supported each other, worked together, and shared ideas and resources to further their national struggle as well as that of other Latin Americans. Third, I explore the generally unrecognized level of solidarity that Latin American revolutionaries, progressives, and nationalists expressed with the Nationalist Party and Nationalist political prisoners during. Fourth, I analyze how gender affected how these activists projected the struggle for Puerto Rican independence and the release of Nationalist political prisoners. Did ideas about masculinity and femininity shape Latin Americans’ reception of their messages? Did gender influence Meneses and Padilla’s abilities and opportunities to act given existing gender norms across the region?