To the editors:
As a former member of the "Albizu Campos Admiration Society and Independence Movement" I found Ben Joravsky's article on the Pedro Albizu Campos Humboldt Park statue interesting but not totally accurate [Neighborhood News, October 1].
Congressman Gutierrez, as alderman of the 26th Ward, had a portion of Division Street named after Campos without public input or hearings. And, contrary to some articles, this renaming was an important campaign issue that the media chose to ignore during the congressional elections.
This statue was actually completed by early September of 1992, when it was illegally placed and dedicated in Humboldt Park by Congressman Gutierrez and Alderman Billy Ocasio. It was immediately removed by the Park District after protests from the Puerto Rican and other ethnic members of the Humboldt Park community.
When alerted that the statue was once again being considered, the Humboldt Park Civic Committee issued a press release and asked for a public hearing on the issue. Congressman Gutierrez's chief aide Enrique Fernandez made statements implying a Cuban conspiracy to erect a Cuban statue in Humboldt Park.
It should be noted that during the congressional campaign, when Gutierrez's Mexican opponent raised the statue issue, his campaign aide was quoted as saying that "the Mexicans should stay out of our business."
The threats and attacks on a person with the stature of Commissioner Alvarez were designed to cloud the truth: that this whole issue was not between two different ethnic groups or "Camps of Clout." The statue placement failed because the Humboldt Park community overwhelmingly rose in revulsion against a statue glorifying terrorism.
The Sun-Times letter writer mentioned in the article did not "demonize" Campos. Dr. Campos was possessed of many demons of his own making. The truth is that Albizu had delusions of grandeur, established a cult, and was used by the Communist Party to foment revolution. He had several shoot-outs in Puerto Rico and was involved in conspiracies to assassinate the governor and other elected officials. A communique, signed by Campos, pledging "full support for their mission" was found on an assassin's body after the attempt on President Truman's life. Campos also praised the later shooting of five congressmen. His cult also has a recent history, with members still in jail for bomb making and robberies in the 80s.
The self-serving leaders of this group suck up huge amounts of poverty and community dollars and live extra well. They use their good fortune to denounce this country and its system and they use their official positions to spread bitterness and hate amongst the young people of our communities.
Two assistant principals and the local school council at Clemente High School are members of the Campos movement. Students and teachers have long complained that they have been intimidated and coerced into promoting a radical political cause.
Taxpayers should ask themselves why a school that has over a 70 percent dropout rate has a portrait of Albizu Campos in the administration office and has long ago stopped flying the American flag on its flagpole. What message is being sent to its students?
I, and others who were involved with this band of pseudosocialists, know how dangerous and destructive it really is to build self-esteem on "Cultural Nationalism" instead of hard work and accomplishment. The statue was never the issue, the "Statue People" were.
West Humboldt Park