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José E Velázquez Papers

Identifier: MSS 140

Scope and Contents

The José E. Velázquez Papers are a rich source of information for researchers examining the Puerto Rican leftist movement that flourished in the late 1960s through the late 1970s and early 1980s. The collection’s particular strength is in the documents and images relating to the Partido Socialista Puertorriqueño and its U.S. branch in New York City, the Comité Seccional that Velázquez served in as an active member and leader. Also among the materials are court records stemming from Velázquez’s challenge to a charge of violating the Selective Service Act on political grounds and offers various arguments against the conscription of Puerto Ricans in the United States Armed Forces. Further, the collection includes a copy of the file the Federal Bureau of Investigations kept on him once they identified him as member of a revolutionary organization, which lends insight into the FBI’s tactics and the degree to which they deemed Velázquez, and the PSP in general, a threat to national security.

The materials in this collection span from the 1950s to 1999 with the bulk found between the years 1970-1984. Included among them are correspondence, clippings, flyers, letters, memoranda, minutes, negatives, newsletters, notes, programs, publications, photographs, speeches and writings. The folders within each series are arranged alphabetically while the documents within each folder are arranged chronologically. Materials in English and Spanish can be found throughout the collection.


  • Majority of material found within 1970-1984
  • 1950-1999

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

José Emiliano Velázquez Luyanda was an active member of several organizations that advocated for Puerto Rican independence and other revolutionary struggles. Most notably, his organizing work with the United States branch of the Partido Socialista Puertorriqueño throughout the 1970s contributed to the growth of the party as a recognized player in national, racial and class liberation efforts until it dissolved due to differing visions, priorities and politics in the mid-1980s.

He was born June 13, 1952 in Santurce, Puerto Rico to Marcelino Velázquez and Providencia Luyanda, both from Humacao. As many other Puerto Ricans of the time, he migrated to New York City with his family.

In his late teens, he became involved with a performance theater group and revolutionary collective known as the Third World Revelationists. In addition to presenting performances on themes and issues that reflected their own Black and Puerto Rican communities’ experiences and challenges, the members lived as a collective for a brief period between 1970 and 1972. To this effect, they cohabitated a space in the East Harlem (El Barrio) neighborhood of New York City, shared household expenses such as food and clothing, pooled income, and set aside days for collective meetings and political education. However, the organization often lacked organizational structure and ideological clarity which made it difficult for many members to feel committed to and engaged with it. Velázquez ended up leaving the group at the end of 1971, a move made by several others soon after that led to its complete disbandment. In his termination letter, he stated his wish to devote more of himself to his nascent work with the Partido Socialista Puertorriqueño (PSP).

After leaving the Third World Revelationists, Velázquez fully immersed himself in the PSP. In the PSP, he felt he had at last found the vehicle to express his revolutionary political ideology encompassing Puerto Rican nationalism as well as the rights of immigrants, workers, students and others marginalized by the governing parties’ policies and practices.

In 1972, he helped to establish and manage Claridad Bilingüe, the English-language supplement to Claridad. That same year, Velásquez was arrested by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) after twice refusing to submit to induction into the U.S. Armed Forces. In motions to dismiss the indictment, his attorney claimed that the drafting of Puerto Ricans violated international law, that the charges against him violated the Geneva Convention article that bars prosecution of civilians in times of war and that discrimination in the selection and drafting of Puerto Ricans and Blacks in the Armed Forces denied them equal protection under the law, among other technical, legal and political rationales for throwing the case out of court. In September 1973, a district court judge dismissed the case on a technical legal issue but a circuit court reversed the lower court’s decision in early 1974. Velázquez appealed to the U.S Supreme Court that same year but, in 1975, that petition was denied. After four years of legal wrangling, Velázquez was convicted of the lesser charge of failing to submit to an Armed Forces physical examination and given a suspended sentence with two years of probation.

Through the mid to late 1970s, he held numerous positions in PSP leadership committees including Secretary of Student Affairs and Secretary of the Comité Seccional in addition to serving as a member of the Comité Central, organizing university students and writing and managing Claridad. Velázquez had to scale back some of his political work after returning to college, getting married and starting a family. Despite new demands on his time and competing priorities, he remained active in PSP activities until July 1982, when he officially resigned as a member of the Comité Seccional of the PSP to focus on his family and his studies.

Although the PSP is no longer formally organized, Velázquez and many of its former members continue to be active in the Puerto Rican community. For his part, Velázquez continues to write for Claridad, including the obituary for fellow PSP member Denis Berger. He also organized a May 2007 conference at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, New York titled “Desde las entrañas, 30 Years Later: Implications for the Independence Movement.”


5.5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian


The José E. Velázquez Papers offer a glimpse into the work of a Puerto Rican activist who devoted himself to advocating for Puerto Rican independence and the democratic rights of Puerto Ricans in the United States as well as racial and class liberation through his involvement with numerous revolutionary organizations active in the 1970s, namely the U.S. branch of the Partido Socialista Puertorriqueño. The collection includes correspondence, clippings, flyers, letters, memoranda, minutes, negatives, newsletters, notes, programs, publications, photographs, speeches and writings.


The collection is divided into the following series:

I. Partido Socialista Puertorriqueño (PSP)

II. Organizations

III. Legal Documents

IV. Subject Files

V. Articles and Essays

VI. Publications

VII. Photographs

Other Finding Aids

English / Spanish bilingual finding aid available, see External Documents.

Separated Materials

Various publications were transferred to the Centro Library.

José E. Velásquez Papers
Melisa Ribas with the assistance of Laura Torres
June 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Processed with funding from the Council of the City of New York.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora Repository

Silberman Building, Hunter College
2180 Third Ave. Rm. 122
New York New York 10065

About the Collections

Our collections consist of personal papers from prominent Puerto Rican artists, elected officials, social activists, writers, as well as the records of community-based organizations. Our largest collection, the Offices of the Government of Puerto Rico in the United States (OGPRUS) Records, measures approximately 2,900 cubic feet and contains an extraordinary amount of information regarding Puerto Rican migrants and the government institutions established to assist them. The collections date from the 1890s to the present, and document Puerto Rican communities in the Northeast, Midwest, Florida, California and Hawaii.