Assassination Attempts: Harry S Truman, President of the U.S. Part 3
About the assassination attempt by Harry S Truman President of the United States, biography of would be assassins Collazo and Torresola, trial and verdict.
The Victim: HARRY S TRUMAN, 33rd President of the U.S.
Married, divorced, and married again to one Rosa Mercado, Collazo lived in a tenement in the Bronx with his wife and her 2 daughters. He became a leader and a speaker in the nationalist movement, and maintained an active mimeograph machine in his apartment. He was a union leader in his factory and was respected by workers and management alike.
Torresola, about whom less is known, was apparently not as upstanding or accomplished as Collazo. The 2 were friends but not intimates, bound together primarily by their passion for Puerto Rican independence. Torresola arrived in New York in 1948 and lived in the Bronx on welfare with his daughter and various women. It was Torresola who procured the guns.
The U.S. Government contends, but cannot prove, that the assassination attempt of November 1, 1950, was a conspiracy timed to cause chaos and possible revolution at the exact moment that a large-scale rebellion erupted in Puerto Rico. The revolt did actually occur, but was quickly crushed by the authorities. Torresola met with the president of the Nationalist party in Puerto Rico, Harvard-educated Pedro Albizu Campos, 2 months before the Blair House shooting, and at the time of his death possessed provocative but inconclusive notes signed by Campos.
Collazo, after the incident, maintained that he and Torresola hatched the plan entirely on their own, and held no personal grudge against Truman, but simply wanted to assist their comrades who were rebelling in Puerto Rico.
His wife Rosa was arrested after the attempt but was released. Years later, in an unrelated case, she was convicted, along with 12 others, for conspiracy to overthrow the Government and sentenced to 6 years.
At his trial, Oscar Collazo spoke passionately of the economic exploitation and political manipulation perpetrated by the U.S. Government upon the people of Puerto Rico. He reminded the court of the many Puerto Ricans who were serving in Korea when they had no freedom at home. "Anything that I have done I did it for the cause of the liberty of my country, and I still insist, even to the last, that we have the right to be free. . . . I didn't come here to plead for my life. I came here to plead for the cause of the liberty of my people."
The gentle freedom-fighter, a poor shot and a lover of Swift--the English satirist--was sentenced to die. As he was escorted from the courtroom, his wife called out to him, "Goodbye, my dove!" Collazo refused his right to plead for clemency, but on July 24, only a few days before the execution date, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by President Truman. Collazo currently resides in the Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth.
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