Author to speak at GVSU on Puerto Rican revolution

GVL / Courtesy -

GVL / Courtesy –

Sixty-seven years ago, a revolution occurred that went overlooked for many years. For a long time, Puerto Rico struggled against the U.S., resulting in violence that plagued the island. 

Grand Valley State University students will have the opportunity to learn about this untold story of politics, U.S. intervention and Puerto Rico from Nelson A. Denis, author of “War on All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony.” The event is sponsored by Latin American and Latino/a studies at GVSU and will take place Tuesday, Nov. 7, in the Kirkhof Center Pere Marquette Room from 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. 

Denis has worked as the editorial director of El Diario, one of the biggest Spanish-language newspapers in New York City, and is a recipient of the Best Editorial Writing Award from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. He has also written for various other newspapers and has directed a film shown in the Tribeca Film Festival. This event will be his first time speaking at GVSU.  

“It’s a story a lot of people don’t know about,” said David Stark, GVSU professor of history and coordinator of Latin American and Latino/a studies. He said the ultimate goal of the program is to draw awareness to the current and past situations in Puerto Rico “to help people understand what’s going on in Puerto Rico and why things are the way that they are.”

With the recent tragedies of the hurricanes and debt crisis, Stark thinks now is a perfect time for people to learn more about Puerto Rico’s past and present. Stark said the struggles of Puerto Rico are important to learn about regardless of when they happened. The Puerto Rican revolution is a topic that is typically not discussed often in the U.S. 

“There’s a story there that hasn’t been told,” Stark said. 

This program will give the chance for all who are interested to become informed on this chaotic part of Puerto Rico’s past.

Renzo Garzo Motta, an international student and part of Laker Familia, said he was not aware of the past revolution in Puerto Rico and has rarely learned about any history of the territory.  

“No one ever talks about it,” he said. “They’re so far away from the mainland, … and it’s just so hard to keep a connection.”

Garzo Motta brought up the point that now is a good time to learn about Puerto Rico’s history, especially concerning the recent struggles they are facing. 

Throughout the lecture, Denis will divulge the stories of tumult the revolution sparked and speak about his book, which has generated a lot of controversy due to his view of U.S. occupation and involvement with Puerto Rico. He will outline the important figures who led Puerto Rico through the long revolution as well as the ones who fought to stop it. 

Anyone interested in attending is welcome to come. The event is LIB 100- and 201-approved, and there is no cost to attend.