Laura Albizu Meneses

My fondest picture of Laura Albizu Meneses is one of her reading letters her father Pedro Albizu Campos had written to us. It was an emotional moment for her, a tender reunion with her beloved father. Despite her return to Peru, her mother's native land and the place of her birth, Laurita maintained her concern for the independence of Puerto Rico. Our first meeting with her and her brother Pedro Albizu was at the International Conference in Support of Independence for Puerto Rico held in Mexico City in 1979.

We saw her next in Puerto Rico, as she and the late J. Benjamín Torres collaborated on plans for an Instituto Albizu Campos. She told us of her activities with the Peruvian Peace Movement and her affiliation with the World Peace Council. As a member of the presidium and a Peruvian delegate, she has occasion to travel abroad. She is concerned about social problems, solidarity with Latin American and Caribbean countries, and the United States attacks on Nicaragua. She fears that Puerto Rico may become a springboard for attacks on Latin American countries.

Married to a Peruvian engineer, she has six children and eight grandchildren. She works as a private nurse, teaches Spanish, and does translating. Her daughter, Rosa, teaches ballet in Cuba.

Laurita's mother, Doña Laura Meneses de Albizu, lost her citizenship in 1948 and went to Cuba, where she was granted Cuban citizenship. She was then appointed to the Cuban Mission to the United Nations. Ruth Reynolds and I had the privilege of meeting this great lady and her handsome lawyer, Juarbe Y Juarbe at the heavily guarded Cuban Embassy, and taking them to lunch.

Laurita carries the joyful spirit of her father, reflecting a lesser known side of Don Pedro. She recalls him as a loving father, full of laughter and fun, enjoying the precious hours with his children, and dancing with her.

She recalled her daily visits with her father in prison in 1956, and how, unable to speak, he would twist her wedding ring as a request for news of her family. And he would cut short her visits with him lest she be subjected to the radiation torturing his body.

Her plea is that we not be confused by the terminology "Associated Free State," but recognize Puerto Rico's continued status as a colony. "We must be aware who the enemy is," she asserts. "Since the United States has committed violence against our country, we have the right to use any method necessary for our freedom."