A Political and Transnational Ménage a Trois

The Communist Party USA, the Puerto Rican Communist Party, and the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, 1934-1945

Margaret M. Power, Illinois Institute of Technology

This chapter explores the complex and dynamic transnational relationship between the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party (PRNP) and the U.S. Communist Party (CPUSA) and the Communist Party of Puerto Rico (CPPR). The CPPR and the CPUSA had close, mutually supportive ties with each other and a more uneven connection with the PRNP. The communist parties shared the PRNP’s goal of ending U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico, but linked independence to class struggle and socialism. The Nationalists, however, called upon all Puerto Ricans, regardless of class, to unite against colonialism, and deferred discussion of the nature of the society that would replace U.S. rule until it ended.

Relations between the parties evolved from 1934 to 1945, the period this chapter covers, in response to changes in global and local politics and their own situations. This chapter begins in the early 1930s during the “class vs. class” period and moves through the Popular Front era, which promoted communist collaboration with all anti-fascist forces. Pueblos Hispanos, a newspaper jointly produced by the CPUSA and the PRNP in New York City from 1943-44, illustrates key aspects of the transnational partnership between the parties, as each worked to both accommodate the other and promote its own agenda and goals.