It was around 2:30 pm. Members of Congress were on the verge of voting to amend the Immigration Act. A large group of guests visiting Congress watched the House deliberations. Suddenly there was a lot of turmoil on the show. Four people – three men and a woman – rose from their seats chanting “Long live Puerto Rico Libre!” (“Long live Puerto Rico Free!”). After a while, the shooting started.

Both attackers had a pistol in hand and were shooting blindly into the House. An untold chaos ensued. Members of Congress bumped into each other, and they ran in a panic to get out. After that, the attackers opened a huge Puerto Rican flag and waved it.

Die for Puerto Rico

Soon all four were in the hands of the police. On the other hand, five congressmen were shot dead. The most wounded was Alvin Muriel Bentley, a 36-year-old Michigan state representative, who was shot in the chest. In the end, however, all of the victims survived the attack.

Newspapers around the world wrote about the congressional attack. This was also the aim of the attackers. The four belonged to the National Party of Puerto Rico, which was not ashamed of even the most extreme methods of the struggle for the island’s independence.

I’m not here to kill anyone, I’m here to die for Puerto Rico – Lolita LeBron, the organizer of the attack, yelled at the time of arrest.

March 1 was not chosen by her by accident. On that day, the Inter-American Conference took place in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. The dramatic news from the US Congress was the announcement in this forum about the demands of some islanders who wanted to secede from America.

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Independence or the state 51?

The United States captured Puerto Rico in 1898. At that time, America, by virtue of a treaty with Spain, annexed the island. Puerto Rico has unincorporated territory status and its residents hold U.S. citizenship. There are still many supporters of independence on the island, but most of the population – as evidenced by subsequent referendums – support Puerto Rico’s transformation into the 51st state for the United States.

The four attackers were sentenced to life imprisonment. 25 years after the congressional attack, President Jimmy Carter pardoned them.