yasmin hernandez

Carpeta: 1950


Acrylic and collage on Canvas
20" x 24"

This work references archival images of the uprisings that took place throughout Puerto Rico in 1950. The first of the rebellions happened in the town of Jayuya on October 30th, led by a woman of the Nationalist Party, Blanca Canales. The goal was to proclaim Puerto Rico as a free republic from the United States. Insurrections quickly spread to other areas of Puerto Rico from Peñuelas (my maternal grandfather’s hometown) to Utuado, Ponce (both my parent’s hometown), Rio Piedras and others. The United States responded to the revolution by sending in the National Guards who exchanged fire with the revolutionaries and ended the uprisings by dropping a series of bombs.

The central painted image is based on an archival photograph of one of many scenes of the arrests of thousands that were rounded up in the days following the revolution. Considering that the revolution took place in 1950, it was in the heyday of the 1948 infamous Law 53, commonly known as la ley de la Mordaza or the Gag Law which rendered all pro-independence sentiment illegal, including displaying the Puerto Rican flag. Anyone remotely viewed as siding with independence supporters was blacklisted. The photographs following what is known as la revolución or el grito de Jayuya (despite the fact that many other towns were involved) show the arrests of countless women and men. The photo that inspired the above painting shows one such scene, but I was particularly drawn to the tension in this scene in which a National Guardsman reaches out his hand to a little boy whose family is being arrested. The little boy too walks with his hands on his head. One could only imagine the thought process or the chain of events following this moment. Would the boy ever reach out and take the hand of a man with a rifle in the other? Would he trust the soldier who walks his family at gunpoint? Is the soldier a US foreigner, or is he Puerto Rican, conflicted by the task of having to arrest a family of his own people, little boy included. After the 1917 Jones Act, Puerto Ricans were drafted into military service and others, looking for a career opportunity, voluntarily enlisted as they continue to do to this day. Unfortunately however in cases like 1950, under US command, they may have had to turn against their own.


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