Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony

War Against All Puerto Ricans is a powerful, tragic, and untold history of U.S. intervention into the politics of Puerto Rico. From the U.S. invasion in 1898 to the modern day struggle for self-determination, Nelson Denis provides a panoramic history of an island once referred to by the New York Times as a significant “commercial value…it would be much better for [Puerto Rico] to come at once under the beneficent sway of these United States than to engage in doubtful experiments at self-government.”

Based on oral histories, personal interviews, eyewitness accounts, congressional testimony, and recently de-classified FBI files, War Against All Puerto Ricans tells the story of a revolution integral to Puerto Rican history, but virtually unknown to the American public: the Puerto Rican independence revolt of 1950. After over fifty years of military occupation and colonial rule, the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico staged an unsuccessful armed insurrection against the United States. Violence swept through Puerto Rico: assassins were sent to kill President Harry Truman, gunfights roared in eight towns, police stations and post offices were burned down. In order to suppress the uprising, the U.S. Army deployed thousands of troops and bombarded two towns, marking the first time in history that the U.S. bombed its own citizens.

In telling this story, Nelson Denis traces the lives of the key figures that shaped, directed and destroyed the revolution, including Pedro Albizu Campos, president of the Nationalist Party and leader of the Puerto Rican independence movement, who was eventually imprisoned and died under mysterious circumstances. It is an unflinching account of the gunfights, prison riots, political intrigue, FBI and CIA covert activity, and mass hysteria that accompanied this tumultuous period in Puerto Rican history.


All across America the Latino population, and Latino buying power, are showing explosive growth.  This enormous market is largely untapped.

Immediately, and over the next 50 years, these numbers will affect the U.S. cultural landscape. 

2010 Census

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, one in six Americans – nearly 52 million people – are Latino.

As of 2010, Latinos are recognized as the largest minority group in the U.S. Latinos accounted for 16 percent of the 309 million people in the U.S., African Americans 12 percent, and Asians made up 5 percent.

Senior citizens accounted for 13 percent of Americans (about 42 million senior citizens) so there are more Latinos in the U.S., than there are senior citizens.

Latino spending power is expected to grow to more than $1.5 trillion by 2015, or 15 percent of America’s total buying power.

By 2050 about 1 in 3 U.S. residents will be Latino.

Census: Latino Population Soars 43 Percent Across U.S.

U.S. Media Response

Media and entertainment companies are responding to this explosion in the Latino sector.


In January 2012, market leader Univisión partnered with Disney-ABC to launch an English-language 24-hour news channel, that is geared to Latino viewers.

Also that month, News Corp. announced it would launch Spanish-language MundoFox, a new broadcast network, in the fall of 2012.

In February 2012, Cable operator Comcast agreed to carry two new Latino-run TV cable channels, El Rey and BabyFirst.

Latino spin-offs run throughout the cable TV spectrum –  ranging from HBO Latino to MTV’s Tr3s to ESPN Deportes.

In 2012, Univisión primetime ratings are beating NBC on one out of every two nights.

This follows the 2011 performance, when Univisión TV network beat NBC on Thursdays with a 1.7 average rating, or 2.2 million viewers.  NBC has an average rating of 1.6.


In the realm of movies, in 2010, 43 million Latinos purchased 351 million movie tickets. This represents over $2.6 billion in ticket purchases. It is also an uptick from the 37 million Latinos who bought 300 million tickets the previous year.

Also in 2010, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) found that Latinos are extremely frequent moviegoers. In fact, they accounted for 26 percent of all tickets sold in 2010.

By comparison, African-Americans purchased 11 percent of movie tickets in 2010. 

The Nueva York Knicks 

Even in New York City, in select games, the New York Knicks now dress up as the Nueva York Knicks.

Case Study:  Sabado Gigante

The enormous potential of the Latino market, both in the U.S. and globally, is best seen in the numbers generated by Sabado Gigante. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2012, it is the longest-running TV variety show in television history. 525 U.S. stations air the program, which reaches an estimated audience of 100 million people every week.

According to Univisión, the only audience comparable to Sabado Gigante is the Olympics or the Soccer World Cup – except that Sabado Gigante does not reach this audience once every four years. It reaches this audience, every single week.

By way of contrast, the Oprah Winfrey Show was the highest-rated talk show in American television history. At its peak, Oprah reached 15-20 million viewers per show.

Sabado Gigante reaches 100 million viewers every week, throughout the entire world.

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For further information about U.S. Latino population growth, see: 










Prior to serving in the New York State Assembly, Denis directed TV commercials and several short films, and wrote eight feature length screenplays.

Denis received a Walter P. Kaitz Cable TV Fellowship, the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fellowship for his film Hound Dog, and a New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Fellowship for his screenplay Lenny’s Prayer.

He also wrote and directed the feature Vote For Me! which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Vote For Me!  also won the Best Picture Award at the 2009 Staten Island Film Festival, and a Best Feature Film Award at the 2009 Orlando Hispanic Film Festival.

Vote For Me "The Movie"

Starring Malik Yoba (New York Undercover, Soul Food, Kingpin; Cool Runnings); Chi Chi Salazar (Scarface, Carlito’s Way); Ricardo Barber (The Feast of the Goat); Vote For Me!  is a comedy about a 75-year old Puerto Rican building super who runs for U.S. Congress.

The film was based on Denis’s own experiences in East Harlem.

Many East Harlem residents, musicians, and even local politicians appeared in the film, which “blurred the line between reality and fiction to capture the spectacle of New York politics.” (New York Times)

Vote For Me! screened in over a dozen film festivals in New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Puerto Rico, and was well-received by the press.

Vote For Me "The Movie"The New York Times declared it “reminiscent of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, but with a lighter touch.”

The Boston Globe found it “ebullient... politically charged…mixes quirkiness and cultural poignancy.”

The Daily News called it “a media sensation.”

WNYC Radio announced it as “Hilarious! Very funny, very real…a sobering lesson in American politics.”

Fox TV News appreciated the racial nuances, declaring “Al Sharpton disguised as a female…what a story!”

Vote For Me! also received national coverage from Fox News Channel, National Public Radio, Univision, Telemundo, Hoy, WSKQ-FM, MEGA-FM, WADO-AM, WNYC, VIVA Magazine, El Diario/La Prensa, El Nuevo Dia, Siempre, and other  news outlets.

Vote For Me! was also invited to Harvard University, Brown University, the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, the JFK School of Government, Hunter College, the NYU Graduate School of Journalism, Hampton University, City University of New York (CUNY) Center for Puerto Rican Studies, and the Newark Film Commission.

You may view all of the following…

A trailer of the film:


Reviews of the film:





Cast and crew credits:




In April 2015, Nation Books will publish Denis’s War Against All Puerto Ricans, a study of the Nationalist revolution of 1950 in Puerto Rico. The book uses previously classified FBI documents, archival and university research, and over thirty years of personal interviews to document this little-known chapter in American history.

The book also details the greatest gunfight in Secret Service history, the attempted assassination of President Harry Truman, the arrest of 3,000 Puerto Ricans, and the bombing of two towns (Jayuya and Utuado) by the US government — the only time in history that the US ever bombed its own citizens.


"El Diario/La Prensa"El Diario/La Prensa is the largest and oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper in New York, and the oldest Spanish-language daily in the United States

As its editorial director, Denis published over 300 editorials covering local, national and international news, as well as politics, business and technology, health, entertainment, and human interest stories.

"National Association of Hispanic Journalist" Denis’s work was recognized by the National Association of  Hispanic Journalists with multiple awards for “Best Editorial Writing,” political and cultural reporting, and feature writing.

In addition, Denis published feature articles, book and film reviews, and cover stories in the Harvard Political Review, New York Daily News, New York Newsday, andthe New York Sun.


 Denis received the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fellowship for his film Hound Dog, and the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Fellowship for his screenplay Lenny’s Prayer.

Vote For Me "The Movie"

He also wrote and directed the feature film comedy Vote For Me! which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and screened at over a dozen others throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

The film was well received: 

The New York Times declared it “reminiscent of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, but with a lighter touch.”

The Boston Globe found it “ebullient…politically charged…mixes quirkiness and cultural poignancy.”

The New York DailyNews called it “a media sensation.”


Denis’s Radio Box premiered at the Theatre For a New City, and had an extended run at  the Chelsea Theatre Center in New York (now known as the Westside Theatre).

Denis’s courtroom drama Every Man For Himself was produced by the Theatre Off Park in New York City, and moved to the Little Theatre Off Broadway.

His one-act plays Doorkeeper and El Alcalde Machuchal were produced at the Trumbull Theatre at Yale University.

Denis was a member of the playwright’s unit at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, the INTAR Theatre, and a playwright-in-residence at the Shaman Repertory Theatre.


"Writers Guild Of America east"Denis has passed on his writing experience to students at the Writers Guild of America East (WGAE), the NYU Graduate Film School, Touro College, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, Shaman Repertory Theatre, Grosvenor Neighborhood House, Teachers and Writers Collaborative, and Poets in the Public Service.


Lift the Cap on Charters; New York Daily News (4/5/2010)


Albany’s Political Club; New York Sun (12/21/06)


Late blooming woes to plague on-time budget; New York Daily News (4/12/05


Reforming Albany takes more than talk; New York Newsday (1/22/07)


Los legisladores aprobaron un McBudget; El Diario La Prensa(5/12/05)

History still Roils Puerto Rico; New York Daily News (9/23/99)

La Crisis de Vivienda Publica; El Diario La Prensa (12/14/95)

Justicia para Julia de Burgos; El Diario La Prensa (10/8/95)

Silver screen tarnished for Latinos; New York Daily News(5/26/95)

Beware Primrose Pathmark; New York Daily News (4/24/95)

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