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PUERTO RICO CELEBRITIES

ILLUSTRIOUS PUERTO RICAN PEOPLE

 

DR. RAMON EMETERIO BETANCES
(April 8, 1827 - September 16, 1898)
REST IN PEACE!
 

                                                                    

He was born in Cabo Rojo, P.R., was the main leader of the "El Grito de Lares" revolution and as such, he is considered by historians to be the father of the Puerto Rican Independence movement.  In 1846 he obtained his Bachelors Degree and he then proceeded to study medicine in Paris.  In 1853, he graduated with the titles of Doctor in Medicine and Surgeon.  When returned to Puerto Rico, one of the first things that he did was to establish a hospital in Mayaguez.  He work hard to save many Puerto Ricans from the ravages of the cholera epidemic of 1856.  He believed in the abolition of slavery and founded a clandestine organization called "The Secret Abolitionist Society".
Reference:  Wikipedia:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram%C3%B3n_Emeterio_Betances

  

MATHIAS  BRUGMAN
(January 3, 1811 - September 30, 1868)
REST IN PEACE!

 

He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, was a leader in Puerto Rico's Independence Revolution against Spain, known as "El Grito de Lares".  Brugman's father was Pierre Brugman, from Chicago of Dutch ancestry and his mother, Isabel Duliebre from Puerto Rico.  He was raised and educated in Louisiana.  He moved to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico with his family after the United States purchased that region from the French.  Like many other Puerto Ricans at that time, he resented the political injustices practiced by Spain in the island.  This led him to become a believer in the cause of the Puerto Rican Independence movement.  He admired Ramón Emeterio Betances and Segundo Ruiz Belvis.  It was this admiration which inspired him to become and outspoken advocate for independence.  Eventually he befriended Manuel Rojas and his brother, Miguel and joined them in the conspiracy to revolt against Spain.  He openeed a Colmado (Grocery Store) that he used it as his headquarters and its code name was "Capa Prieto".  Manuel Rojas committee in Lares was code named "Centro Bravo".
Reference:  Wikipedia:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matheus_Brugman

 

MARIANA BRACETTI
(1825 - 1903)
REST IN PEACE!

                                                                    

She was born in Añasco, P.R., was a patriotic firm believer in the Independence of Puerto Rico.  She always was willing to fight for her ideals.  She was a believer in women's rights and showed it by her participation in Puerto Rico's first revolution.  She was married for the second time with Miguel Rojas, a rich businessmen who lived in Añasco and who together with his brother Manuel owned a coffee plantation called "El Triunfo" which was to become the clandestine nucleos of the revolution that would be known as "El Grito de Lares".  Betances instructed her to knit a flag for the revolution using the colors of the Dominican Republic.
Reference:  Wikipedia:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariana_Bracetti

MANUEL ROJAS
(1831 - October 14, 1903)
REST IN PEACE!

 

He was born in Caracas, Venezuela from a Puerto Rican father and a venezuelan mother.  He was one of the main leaders of the "Grito de Lares" uprising against the Spanish colonial government in 1868.  The Rojas family moved to Puerto Rico and settled down, close to the town of Lares.  He grew up in a region which was montainous and whose main income came from the coffee crop.  His brother Miguel meet Mariana Bracetti, whom he was to marry, while on a trip to Añasco.
Reference:  Wikepedia: en.wikipedia.org/wki/Manuel_Rojas

LOLA RODRIGUEZ DE TIO
(September 14, 1843 - November 10, 1924)
REST IN PEACE!

 

She was born in San Germán, P.R., where she received her primary education.  Her schooling continued at home where various intellectuals and politicians often met.  In 1868, inspired by the call for Puerto Rican Independence known as the "Grito de Lares", she wrote patriotic lyrics to the tune of "La Borinqueña".  The song became very popular, but brought her into conflict with Spanish authorities.  In 1876 her family moved to Mayaguez, where she published her first book of poetry, "Mis Cabtares" which sold 2,500 copies.  In 1877 the family fled to Venezuela where they met Eugenio María de Hostos.  Upon their return to Puerto Rico, she and her husband founded the magazine "La Almojábana".  They were exiled again in 1887, returning first to Venezuela and then to Cuba.  Once in Havana, their home became a gathering point for politicians and intellectuals as well as exiled Puerto Ricans.  Since her death she has been recognized for her suggestion that Puerto Ricans use the Cuban flag with its colors reversed as the model for their own standard.
Reference:   www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/lola.html

LA BORINQUEÑA
www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/lola.html

Lola Rodríguez De Tió

¡Despierta, borinqueño
que han dado la señal!
¡Despierta de ese sueño
que es hora de luchar!


A ese llamar patriótico
¿no arde tu corazón?
¡Ven! Nos será simpático
el ruido del cañón.


Mira, ya el cubano
libre será;
le dará el machete
su libertad...
le dará el machete
su libertad.


Ya el tambor guerrero
dice en su son,
que es la manigua el sitio,
el sitio de la reunión,
de la reunión...
de la reunión.


El Grito de Lares
se ha de repetir,
y entonces sabremos
vencer o morir.


Bellísima Borinquen,
a Cuba hay que seguir;
tu tienes bravos hijos
que quieren combatir.


Ya por más tiempo impávido
no podemos estar,
ya no queremos, tímidos
dejarnos subyugar.


Nosotros queremos
ser libre ya,
y nuestro machete
afilado está..
y nuestro machete
afilado esta.

 

SEGUNDO RUIZ BELVIS
(
May 13, 1829 - November 3, 1867)
REST IN PEACE!

                                                                 

He was born in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, was dedicated abolitionist who also fought for Puerto Rico's right to independence.  Belvis received his primary schooling in Aguadilla.  He graduated with a degree in philosophy from the University of Caracas of Venezuela.  He also obtained his law degree from the Central University of Madrid in Spain.  In 1859 he returned to Puerto Rico and took up the cause of abolitionism in the island.  The first thing he did was to free the slaves in his hacienda.  He then befriended Ramón Emeterio Betances and joined "The Secret Abolitionist Society" founded by Betances.  Belvis eventually ended up in New York, where together with Betances and other patriots formed the "Comité Revolucionario de Puerto Rico (Revolutionary Committee of Puerto Rico) for the independence of Puerto Rico.  An outcome from this venture was the plans of sending an armed expedition to Puerto Rico in what was to become known as the "Grito de Lares".  During this time he became ill, but this did not keep him from traveling to the City of Valparaíso, Chile with the intention of obtaining financial aid for the planned revolution.  Belvis died in Chile and never knew that the "Grito de Lares" failed.  He did not live to see his dream come true, the abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico on March 22, 1873.
Reference:  Wikipedia:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Segundo_Ruiz_Belvis
 

EUGENIO MARIA DE HOSTOS
(
January 11, 1839 - August 11, 1903)
REST IN PEACE!

                                                               

He was born in the Barrio "Río Cañas" of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, known as "El Ciudadano de las Américas" (The Citizen of the Américas), was a Puerto Rican educator and independence advocate.  At a young age his family sent him to San Juan, where he received his elementary education in the Liceo de San Juan.  In 1852, his family then sent him to Bilbao, Spain, where he graduated from the Institute of Secondary Education (high school).  After he graduaated, he enrolled and attended the Central University of Madrid.  He studied law, philosophy and letters.  When Spain adopted its new constitution in 1869 and refused to grant Puerto Rico its independence, Hostos left and went to the United States.  In the U. S. he joined the Cuban Revolutionary Committee and became called "La Revolución".  He believed in the creation of an Antillano Confederation between Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.  This idea was embraced by fellow Puerto Ricans Ramón Emeterio Betances and Segundo Ruiz Belvis.  One of the things that disappointed Hostos was that he realized that in Puerto Rico and in Cuba there were many people who wanted their independence from Spain, but who did not embrace the idea of becoming revolutionist.  Instead they preferred to be annexed by the United States.
Reference:  Wikipedia:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenio_María_de_Hostos

 

PEDRO ALBIZU CAMPOS
(
September 12, 1891 - April 21, 1965)
REST IN PEACE!

                                   

He was the son of Alejandro Albizu and Juana Campos.  He was also the nephew of Juan Morel Campos, one of Puerto Rico's greatest composers of danzas.  Albizu was the leader and president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party and avid advocate of Puerto Rican independence from the United States by what ever means necessary.  Albizu felt that Puerto Rico deserved the same right as the United States and other countries had to fight for independence.  In 1912, Pedro was awarded a scholarship to study Engineering specializing in Chemistry at the University of Vermont.  In 1913 he continued his studies at Harvard University.  At the outbreak of World War I, Pedro volunteered in the United States Infantry. He was trained by the French Military mission and served under General Frank McInty where he was assigned to an African-American unit and was discharged as a First Lieutenant.  During this time he was exposed to the racism of the day which left a mark in his beliefs towards the relationship of Puerto Ricans and the United States.  In 1919 he returned to Harvard University and was elected president of Harvard's Cosmopolitan Club.  He graduated from Harvard University obtaining a Law dregree as well as degrees in Literature, Philosophy, Chemical Engineering and Military Science.  He was fluent in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Latin and Greek.  In 1922, he married Dr. Laura Meneses, a peruvian whom he had met at Harvard University.  In 1924 he joined the Puerto Rican Nationalists Party and was elected vice-president.  While in prison, Pedro Albizu Campos' health deteriorated.  In 1956, he suffers a stroke in prison and was transferred to San Juan's Presbyterian Hospital under police guard.  He alleged officials suggested that he was insane although others who attended believe that burns on his skin where consistent with variation exposure.  He was pardoned by outgoing governor Luis Muñoz Marín.  He died on April 21, 1965.
Reference:  Wikipedia:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_Albizu_Campos

 

JULIA DE BURGOS
(February 17, 1917 - July 6, 1953)
REST IN PEACE!


Reference:   http://www.elboricua.com/JuliaDeBurgos.html


Julia De Burgos, the best known female poet in Puerto Rico and one of the best Latino América, was born on February 17th, 1917 in Carolina, Puerto Rico.  De Burgos graduated from the University of Puerto Rico as a Teacher.  She also studied in Havana and later  moved to New York.  At age of nineteen her first verses were published.  Her best-known poem is "Río Grande de Loíza".  De Burgos published several books including:  "Poemas Exactos de mí Misma", "Poemas en Veinte Zurcos" and "Canción de la Verdad Sencilla".  She received several honors and homenages before and after her death.  De Burgos died on July 6, 1953 in New York.
Reference:   http://www.elboricua.com/JuliaDeBurgos.html

 

RUBEN BERRIOS MARTINEZ
 


Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruben_Berrios
 

Rubén Ángel Berríos Martínez (born June 21, 1939) is a lawyer, a Puerto Rican politician and current president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP). A former Senator, Berríos is a recurring PIP candidate for Governor of Puerto Rico for three decades, although not consecutively for each elective term.  He led the Navy-Culebra protests, is a leader for the Cause of Vieques and was arrested and imprisoned for civil disobedience.

Berríos was born in Aibonito, Puerto Rico. He attended high school at Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola. He received his bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Economy from Georgetown University in 1961, his Juris Doctor and Master's Degree in Law from Yale University (Yale Law School), and his doctoral degree in International Rights from Oxford University. He also did some post-doctoral research in Sweden at one time (his first wife was Swedish and his son Rubén was born in Stockholm). He has been a tenured Professor of Law at the University of Puerto Rico School of Law from 1967 to the present.  As a lawyer, Berríos is the only man in Puerto Rican history to be accredited by the International Court of Justice.

Berríos became president of the Independence Party PIP when he was 31 years old and has been president of it five times. Under his leadership, the PIP adopted a democratic socialist program. Although he has had limited success at the voting booth regarding his candidacies for the colonial post of Governor of Puerto Rico in 1976, 1980, 1988, 2000 and 2004; losing all times to either the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) or the New Progressive Party (PNP) candidate, he nevertheless has enjoyed great electoral success when regarding his candidacies to the Senate, receiving more votes than any other candidates in the Puerto Rico -island wide- senatoral elections of 1972, 1984, 1992 and 1996.

In 1972, a thirty three year old Rubén Berríos is elected as Senator for the first time. He later returns to the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico, as a Senator, on three additional occasions, in 1984, 1992, and 1996Berríos founded the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean (COPPPAL), is a member of the Executive Council of the Latin American Human Rights Association (ALDHU), and Honorary President of the Socialist International (SI).  He has published the books The Independence of Puerto Rico: Cause and Struggle, Puerto Rico: Nationality and Plebiscite, and Towards the Puerto Rican Socialism, and has collaborated with various publications enjoying wide international prestige such as Foreign AffairsBerríos is widely admired by many people in Puerto Rico, including those who don't follow his ideology. Proof of this is that he ran for Senator in 1984 and received 84% of the general vote.
Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruben_Berrios



JUAN MARI BRAS
(December 2, 1927 – September 10, 2010)
REST IN PEACE!


Reference: http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=Juan+Mari+Bras&ei=utf-8&fr=b1ie7

 

Brás was born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, to a father active in the independence movement who often took his son to political meetings and rallies. In 1943, when Mari Brás was 18 years old, he founded a pro-independence movement in his high school, along with some of his friends, in Mayagüez. He was also the founder and director of the first pro-independence political radio program "Grito de la Patria".

Juan Mari Bras was an Independentista, lawyer and Secretary General of the Puerto- Rican Socialist Party. He first began to be political conscious at age 15, while his father was also an Indepedentista within the Liberal Party. In 1943, Mai Bras joined the National Association of Youth for Independence, and later became it's President. In 1947, following a student strike at University of Puerto Rico against the banning of Albizu Campos, Mari Bras was expelled and he finished his degree in Florida. He became a lawyer in 1954 and founded the Puerto- Rican Socialist Party. In 1974, his son was assasinated by a man trained by the FBI. By this time the FBI had some 75 volumes of "investigative file material" compiled on him alone. The files contained several memos recounting the circumstances of Bras' several heart attacks and offering suggestions as to how the Bureau might put more pressure on him to "produce more of the same". This pressure included the assassination of his son in 1976. Ten years later Mari Bras represented Commitee of Puerto Rico at the Decolonization Commitee hearings in the United States.

In 1994, renounced his US citizenship and in December 1995, his denaturalization was confirmed by the US State Department: Mari Bras was no longer an American citizen. That same month, he requested that the Puerto Rican State Department furnish him with proof of his Puerto Rican citizenship. The State Department claimed that Puerto Rican citizenship does not exist independent of American citizenship. A 1917 act granted islanders a partial American citizenship; though without voting rights, Puerto Ricans were nonetheless available for the draft, just in time for the first World War.

When Mari Bras died of a heart attack, one FBI document stated: "It is hardly idle boasting to say that at least some of the Bureau's activities have provoked the situation of Mari Bras".
Reference: 
http://www.freedomarchives.org/Individual_pop-ups/JMari-Bras.htm

 

LUISA CAPETILLO PERONE
(
 
October 28, 1879 - October 10, 1922)
REST IN PEACE!
 


http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSmpid=46498016&GRid=11428311&


Luisa Capetillo Perone was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico on October 28, 1879. Her father was Spanish and her mother French. She was known as a feminist, labor leader, writer, and anarchist. Capetillo worked as a journalist for the newspaper Unión Obrera; she was a promoter of free love, raised three children, and lived in New York City and Tampa before being deported for her political views. She lived in Havana, Cuba, but was arrested there for wearing men's clothing in public.

In Puerto Rico she worked to implement a minimum wage law, then returned to New York and operated a vegetarian restaurant and guest house that became a political center for the working class.

Reference:  http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSmpid=46498016&GRid=11428311&

 

FILIBERTO OJEDA RIOS
(April 26, 1933 - September 23, 2005)
REST IN PEACE!

 


Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filiberto_Ojeda
 

Filiberto Ojeda Ríos born on April 26, 1933 and died on September 23, 2005) was the "commander in chief" ("Responsable General") of the Boricua Popular Army (Ejército Popular Boricua – Los Macheteros), a clandestine paramilitary organization, described by United States law enforcement agencies as a terrorist organization, based on the island and commonwealth of Puerto Rico, with branches in the mainland United States and in other countries. Los Macheteros is a political group which advocates independence for Puerto Rico through violent means. The organization considers United States rule over Puerto Rico to be oppressive colonization.

For his last fifteen years, Ojeda Ríos was wanted as a fugitive by the FBI for his role in the 1983 Wells Fargo depot robbery in West Hartford, Connecticut, as well as a bail bond default in September 1990. Ojeda Ríos was killed on 23 September 2005 when members of the FBI claim they attempted to serve an arrest warrant on him, after surrounding the house in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, where he was hiding. The FBI operation has raised questions both in and outside Puerto Rico.

The killing of Ojeda Ríos has been mourned by members of the Puerto Rican Independence movement, who have expressed their indignation through repeated protests.  Members of the statehood movement and supporters of the Commonwealth have also joined in the criticism of the federal and local handling of this incident. In late March 2006, the Puerto Rico Justice Department sued federal authorities, including FBI Director, Robert Mueller and US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, seeking an injunction to force the federal government authorities to provide the Commonwealth government with information related to the operation in which Ojeda Ríos died, as well as another one in which the FBI searched the homes of independence supporters affiliated with Los Macheteros. The lawsuit was dismissed in the summer of 2007.
Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filiberto_Ojeda

 

ENRIQUE A. LAGUERRE VELEZ
(July 15, 1905 - June 16, 2005)
REST IN PEACE!
 


Reference:  http://www.topuertorico.org/culture/famousprK-Q.shtml
 

Enrique A. Laguerre Velez was born on 1905 and died on 2005.  Writer, poet, teacher and critic, was born on July 15, 1905 in Moca. He is the best-known novelist of the 20th century. He graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a degree in Arts (BA in 1938 and MA in 1941) and a doctoral degree in Arts from the University of Columbia (1949) in New York. His first and best known novel, "La Llamarada" (1935) is considered the most important novel of the Generation of the '30s, it describes the political, economic and social conditions that prevailded in the island. Laguerre was also known as an advocate for enviromental conservation. Laguerre is considered the most important Puerto Rican novelist, among his many novels are: "Solar Montoya" (1941), "La Resaca" (1949), "Los Amos Benévolos" (1976) (The Benevolent Masters), and "Los Gemelos" (1992). He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999. He died on June 16, 2005.
Reference:
 http://www.topuertorico.org/culture/famousprK-Q.shtml


FRANCISCO OLLER
(June 17, 1833 - May 17, 1917)
REST IN PEACE!

 


Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Oller

 

Oller was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, the third of four children of Cayetano Juan Oller y Fromesta and María del Carmen Cestero Dávila, who was from Bayamon, Puerto Rico.  When he was eleven he began his studies in art under Juan Cleto Noa, a painter who ran an art academy in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Here, Oller demonstrated enormous talent and in 1848 was offered the chance to continue his studies in Rome by General Juan Prim, Governor of Puerto Rico; the offer was not accepted as his mother felt he was too young.

When he was eighteen Oller moved to Madrid, Spain, to study painting at the Royal Academy of San Fernando, under Don Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz, director of the Prado Museum. In 1858, he moved to Paris, France where he studied under Thomas Couture and where he enrolled to study art in the Louvre under the instruction of Gustave Courbet..  During his free time, Oller found work as a baritone in local Italian operas and would frequently visit cafés where he met with fellow artists. He would also become a friend of Puerto Rican expatriates in France such as Ramón Emeterio Betances and Salvador Carbonell.

In 1859, Oller exhibited some of his artistic works next to those of Bazille, Renoir, Monet, and Sisley.  By 1865, Francisco Oller was known as the first Puerto Rican and Hispanic Impressionist artist and in 1868 he became the founder of The Free Academy of Art of Puerto Rico.
Reference: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Oller


JUAN MOREL CAMPOS
(May 16, 1857 - May 12, 1896)
REST IN PEACE!


Reference:
 http://www.topuertorico.org/culture/famousprK-Q.shtml

 

Juan Morel Campos:  born on 1857 and died on 1896), musician and composer, was born on May 16, 1857 in Ponce. He was the most important figure in Puerto Rican music of the 19th century. His first teacher was none other than the illustrious pianist-composer Manuel G. Tavarez (a Parisian trained composer and former pupil of M. Alphonse Laurent and M. Daniel Auber), who also wrote some of the most beloved Danza repertory for the piano. He composed countless danzas, the dance (along with the bomba and plena) most closely associated with Puerto Rico. "Felices Días", "Vano Empeño", "Mis penas", "Tormento", "Alma Sublime", "La Lira Ponceña", "Alma Sublime" and many others are among his most famous compositions. It's calculated that Morel created more than 550 compositions of which more than 300 are danzas. He died on May 12, 1896 in Ponce.
Reference: 
http://www.topuertorico.org/culture/famousprK-Q.shtml
 


CAYETANO COLL Y TOSTE
(
November 30, 1850 - November 19, 1930)
REST IN PEACE!

 


Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cayetano_Coll_y_Toste
 

Coll y Toste was born in the City of Arecibo, Puerto Rico where he received his primary and secondary education. In 1863, he entered the Jesuits' Seminary College in San Juan from where he graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy in 1868. In 1872, Coll y Toste went to Barcelona, Spain and enrolled in the "School of Medicine" of the University of Barcelona.  From here he graduated as a "Doctor in Medicine and Surgery" in 1872. During his stay in Spain, he was able to study historical documents relating to Puerto Rico which he later found to be useful to him.

In 1874, Coll y Toste returned to the island where he set up his own medical practice in Arecibo. In 1891, he was named director of the Catholic Hospital of Arecibo. In his free time, he developed both a love of and an interest in literature. Not only did he become interested in investigating the history of Puerto Rico, but, he also took an active interest in the island's politics and was the founder and director of a publication called "El Ramillete". He also collaborated with the "Revista Puertorriqueña" (Puerto Rican Review), "La Semana Politica" (Political Weekly) and "Plumas Amigas" (Pen Pals).

In 1897, a year before the Spanish-American War, Coll y Toste was "Sub-Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce" and was named "Regional Governor of Northern Puerto Rico" by the Spanish Crown. After the war, Coll y Toste was named "Civil Secretary" and in 1900 "Commissioner of the Interior" by General Davis the military governor appointed by the United States. He held the position of "Secretary of the Government" and he also became a delegate to Puerto Rico's "House of Representatives". In 1913 Coll y Toste was named "Official Historian of Puerto Rico" and among Coll y Toste's other civil positions were the Presidency of the "Puerto Rican Historical Academy" and of the "Ateneo Puertorriqueño".

Among his many written works are:

  •                   "El Boletin Historico de Puerto Rico" (Historical Boletin of Puerto Rico),

  •                   "Cronicas de Arecibo" (Cronicals of Arecibo) and

  •                   "Leyendas y Tradiciones Puertorriqueñas" (Puerto Rican Legends and Traditions).

His research into the history of Puerto Rico gave people an insight into the island from the times of the Tainos up until 1927. One of his works "The Indo-Antillean Vocabulary" is valuable in understanding the way of life of the Tainos. His works are required reading in Puerto Rican high schools and universities.
Reference: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cayetano_Coll_y_Toste


CARDINAL LUIS APONTE MARTINEZ
(August 4, 1922 - April 10, 2012)
REST IN PEACE!


 
Reference:   http://www.s9.com/Biography/Aponte-Martinez-Luis
 

Cardinal Luis Aponte Martinez was born on 1922 on the 4th of August in Lajas, Puerto Rico.  In 1950 he was ordained a catholic priest in San German, Puerto Rico.  From 1950 to 1960 he was the superintendent of the Catholic Schools for the diocese of Ponce and chancellor of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. He also served as Chaplain for the Puerto Rican National Guard.  In 1960 he became the second Puerto Rican to be consecrated Bishop, having been appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Ponce, Puerto Rico by Pope John XXIII.

In 1963 he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Ponce, and succeeded as Bishop of Ponce and in 1964 became the Archbishop of San Juan at the recommendation of Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York.

In 1973 Pope Paul VI honored Aponte Martinez by making him a Cardinal and bestowed on him the title of "Santa Maria della Provvidenza a Monteverde". He held the position of President of the Board of Directors of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico. He was also the President of the Latin American Episcopal Conference.

In 1984 helped coordinate and was among the many dignitaries who greeted Pope John Paul II, upon his Holiness' visit to Puerto Rico.  In 1999 he retired as Archbishop of San Juan.  In 2005 he participated in the preparation for the papal conclave but was unable to vote, since he was 82 at the time of the conclave and in 2006 he published his memoirs.
Reference:  http://www.s9.com/Biography/Aponte-Martinez-Luis


LUIS LLORENS TORRES
(May 14, 1876 - June 16, 1944)
REST IN PEACE!   
 


Reference:
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Llorens_Torres

 

Luis Llorens Torres was born in Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico, on May 14, 1876 and died on June 16, 1944.  Was a Puerto Rican poet, playwright, and politician.  He was also an advocate for the independence of Puerto Rico.  Llorens' parents, Luis Aurelio del Carmen Llorens and Marcelina Soledad de Torres, were the wealthy owners of a coffee plantation. In Collores (a section of Juana Diaz), Llorens Torres was always in contact with nature, which accounts for the love that he felt for nature and country. Llorens always stated that he was proud to come from "Collores".  HisCatalan grandfather, Josep de Llorens i Robles, had immigrated from the village of Llorens, which belongs to the town of El Vendrell in Tarragona (Catalonia, Spain).

He went to school in Mayaguez and Maricao.  Llorens Torres went to Spain after he finished his secondary studies on the island. He studied at the University of Barcelona and became a lawyer. He then proceeded to study Philosophy and Letters at the University of Granada where he obtained a Doctorate degree in both disciplines. In Spain he published his first book of poetic verses "Al Pie de la Alhambra", which was dedicated to his girlfriend, Carmen Rivero.  He returned to Puerto Rico in 1901, married, and moved to Ponce where he established his own lawyers' bufette (Nemesio Canales later joined his bufette) and collaborated with the newspaper Lienzos del Solar. During this time he wrote some of his best works. was born out of love.

When Llorens Torres returned to Puerto Rico he found a political situation completely different then from the one that he had left. Puerto Rico had been annexed by the United States, thus motivating Llorens Torres to join the political Union Party which defended the ideal of independence for the island. He transmitted his beliefs to the public through his poem "El Patito Feo" (The Ugly Duckling). He became a member of the legislature when he was named to the Camara of Delegates from 1908 to 1910 representing the municipality of Ponce.  On February 8, 1912, together with Matienzo Cintrón, Manuel Zeno Gandía and others, he wrote a manisfesto which stated that it was time for Puerto Rico to have its independence. That year he, Rosendo Matienzo Cintrón, Manuel Zeno Gandia, Eugenio Benítez Castaño, y Pedro Franceschi found the Independence party which was the first party in the history of the island to exclusively want Puerto Rican independence. Eugenio Benítez Castaño was named president of the short lived political party. In 1913, Llorens Torres co-founded with Nemesio Canales La Revista de Las Antillas, a literary publication.

Llorens Torres died in Santurce, a sector of San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was a defender of the independence ideal until the day that he died.
Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Llorens_Torres


LUIS MUNOZ RIVERA
(
March 4, 1911 – November 15, 1916)
REST IN PEACE!
 


Reference:  www.britannica.com/.../397623/29567/Munoz-Rivera

Born in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, Muñoz Rivera studied in local schools and entered politics in 1887. He became a leader of the Autonomist Party and in 1890 founded its newspaper La Democracía. In 1893 he journeyed to Spain to learn about its political system. When he returned to Puerto Rico, he participated in the writing of the Plan de Ponce which proposed administrative autonomy for the island. In March 1895 he returned to Spain as part of a commission that met with Liberal leader Práxedes Mateo Sagasta. That political group accepted the commission's views and in November 1897 Sagasta granted the Autonomist Charter. Muñoz Rivera served as Secretary of State and Chief of the Cabinet for the newly-independent Government of Puerto Rico until U.S. troops invaded the island in July 1898.

In 1899 Muñoz Rivera founded the newspaper El Territorio, the voice of landowners hurt by a U.S.-imposed blockade. Just as he had done in Spain, Muñoz Rivera travelled to the United States to argue for the establishment of free trade between the island and the mainland. He then resettled in New York where he founded the bilingual newspaper Puerto Rican Herald in 1901. Upon his return to Puerto Rico in 1904, Muñoz Rivera founded the Unionist Party and was elected in 1906 to the House of Delegates where he served until 1910 when he became Resident Commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives. Although he was largely responsible for the Jones-Shafroth Act (signed March 4, 1917), granting U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans and creating a bicameral legislature modeled on the U.S., he died in Luquillo before the act was enacted into law.
Reference:  http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/munoz.html

LOLITA LEBRON
(November 19, 1919- August 1, 2010)
REST IN PEACE!


 

Lolita  Lebron, a Puerto Rican independence activist who spent 25 years in prison for participating in a gun attack on the U.S. Congress a half-century ago, died Sunday. She was 90.  Lebron died at a hospital in San Juan of complications from respiratory disease, said Francisco Torres, president of the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico. She had been hospitalized repeatedly in recent months for her ailments.  Lebron was a leading figure in the small but passionate nationalist movement in this U.S. territory.  "Lolita was the mother of the independence movement. This is an insurmountable loss," said Maria de Lourdes Santiago, a member of the Caribbean island's Senate from the Puerto Rican Independence Party.

 

Lebron was born Nov. 19, 1919, in Lares, in southwestern Puerto Rico, and moved as a young adult to New York, part of a mass migration from the island to the United States during the 1940s. There she developed her nationalist views and became a follower of movement leader Pedro Albizu Campos.  In 1954, she and three other nationalists entered the U.S. Capitol with automatic pistols and opened fire from an upstairs spectators' gallery onto the crowded floor of the House, firing nearly 30 shots. They unfurled a Puerto Rican flag and Lebron shouted "Viva Puerto Rico libre!"  No one died in the attack but five U.S. representatives were wounded, including one congressman who was shot in the chest.

 

Lebron later said that she never intended to kill anyone and that all four nationalists expected to be killed in the assault. She and the others - Rafael Cancel Miranda, Irving Flores and Andres Figueroa Cordero - received lengthy prison sentences.  President Jimmy Carter granted them clemency in 1979 and they were released.  "We didn't do anything that we should regret," Lebron said upon her release. "Everyone has the right to defend their right to freedom that God gave them."

 

Back in Puerto Rico, Lebron continued to attend political rallies on the island, where the independence movement holds little sway with voters. The vast majority of people in Puerto Rico favor either becoming a U.S. state or maintaining the semiautonomous status they have now.  Lebron was arrested in 2001 at age 81 when she and five other people cut through a fence on the neighboring island of Vieques to protest the 1999 death of a civilian security guard killed by an errant bomb dropped during a U.S. Navy training exercise. The U.S. has since closed the Vieques bombing range. She was sentenced to 60 days in jail for trespassing.

 

In recent years, Lebron tempered her support for violent struggle.  "I think times have changed, and there is no need now to kill for freedom," she told El Mundo newspaper in 1998. "I would not take up arms nowadays, but I acknowledge that the people have a right to use any means available to free themselves."

Reference:  washingtonpost.com;  The Associated Press

JAIME BENITEZ REXACH
(October 29, 1908 - May 30, 2001)
REST IN PEACE!


Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org

Jaime Benítez Rexach (October 29, 1908 – May 30, 2001), the longest serving chancellor and the first president of the Univisersity of Puerto Rico was a Puerto Rican author, academic and politician.  Benítez Rexach was born in Vieques, a small island about twenty miles from the shores of Puerto Rico. His mother died when he was six years old, and his father died a year later. It fell to his older sister, who lived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to raise him and his siblings. His brother was Felix Rexach Benitez who was a contractor in the Dominican Republic under Trujillo and Puerto Rico. Rexach Benítez attended local public schools, but in 1926 he left the Island to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he received an LL.B. degree in 1930 and an LL.M. in 1931. That same year he passed the District of Columbia bar examination and returned to Puerto Rico. He earned an M.A. at the University of Chicago in 1938.

In 1931 Benítez Rexach began a career in education at the University of Puerto Rico that spanned four decades: he was associate professor of social and political sciences (1931–1942), chancellor of its main campus in Río Piedras (1942–1966). In 1948, during his tenure as chancellor, the university's pro-independence student body invited nationalist leader Pedro Albizu Campos to the Río Piedras campus as a guest speaker. Rexach Benítez, did not permit Albizu access to the campus and as a consequence, the students protested and went on strike. The university was temporarily shut down and the leaders of the strike expelled from the university. As chancellor, Rexach Benítez also attracted many distinguished scholars and artists who had left Spain after its civil war, including Nobel Prize-winning poet Juan Ramón Jiménez and Catalan cellist Pablo Casals. In 1966, Rexach Benítez became the first president of the University, position in which he served until 1971. When Rexach Benítez began teaching, the university had three thousand students; by the time he left, the university had grown to forty-three thousand six-hundred students under his leadership.

A close associate of the political leader Luis Muñoz Marín, who became Puerto Rico's first elected governor in 1949 and helped achieve a locally-drafted Constitution in 1952, Rexach Benítez was part of the Constituent Convention and collaborated in the drafting of the Bill of Human Rights included in the new Constitution, which recognized citizens' social and economic rights as well as their human rights, as well as the initial draft of the Constitution's Preamble. The two men fell out in 1957, however, when Mr. Muñoz declared his "loss of confidence" in Rexach Benítez and accused him of using his university position to build a rival political movement to his own Popular Democratic Party, or PDP. Rexach Benítez won a vote of confidence in the Council on Higher Education by one vote. They were publicly reconciled before the 1960 elections.

In 1972 Benítez Rexach was elected Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico for a four-year term. In the U.S. House of Representatives he was assigned to the Committee on Education and Labor, an important committee assignment for a man who cared deeply about education and who had an interest in social and labor conditions in Puerto Rico. In the 94th Congress, Rexach Benítez introduced legislation to extend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to Puerto Rico. He also showed interest in the affairs of U.S. territories, sponsoring legislation to allow American Samoa to elect a governor and lieutenant governor, and supporting the authorization of a loan to the Virgin Islands Government. While in Congress he was a strong advocate of the so-called commonwealth status of Puerto Rico, which he felt was preferable to statehood or independence. A bill to enhance Puerto Rico's relationship with the U.S., HR 11,200, died in committee. After an unsuccessful reelection bid, Rexach Benítez returned to Puerto Rico. He taught at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico (IAU) from 1980 to 1986. He was a professor of government at the American College in Bayamón, Puerto Rico.
Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org

 

SANTIAGO “CHAGUIN” POLANCO ABREU 
(October 30, 1920
- January 18, 1988)
REST IN PEACE!



    Reference: 
http://www.findagrave.com

Born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico on October 30, 1920,  was a Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico.  Polanco-Abreu attended elementary and high schools in Isabela, Puerto Rico.  He was in the University of Puerto Rico, B.A., 1941, and LL.B., 1943. He joined Phi Sigma Alpha Fraternity.  He was admitted to the bar in 1943 and practiced law in Isabela and San Juan.  Legal adviser to the Tax Court of Puerto Rico from 1943 to 1944.  He served as member of the American Bar and Puerto Rico Bar Associations. He was one of the founders of the Institute for Democratic Studies in San José, Costa Rica.  He served in the House of Representatives, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico from 1949 to 1964.  He served as member of the Constitutional Convention of Puerto Rico in 1951-1952.  He was appointed speaker of the house from 1963 to 1964.

Polanco-Abreu was elected as a Popular Democrat to be Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico to the United States Congress, November 3, 1964, for the term ending January 3, 1969.  He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1968.  He resumed the practice of law. He was a resident of San Juan, Puerto Rico, until his death there on January 18, 1988.  He was buried in Municipal Cemetery, Isabela, P.R.
Reference:  http://www.worldlingo.com

LUIS PALES MATOS
(
March 20, 1898 - February 23, 1959
REST IN PEACE!


Reference:  http://www.poets.org

Luis Palés Matos was born on March 20, 1898, in Guayama, Puerto Rico, a small village with a predominantly black population. His father, Vicente Palés Anés, and his brothers, Vicente and Gustavo Palés Matos, were all poets laureate of Puerto Rico. His mother, Consuelo Matos Vicil, was also a poet. Vicente Palés Anés died in 1913, just after reciting his poem "El cementerio" (the cemetery). Luis Palés Matos read voraciously as a child and began writing poems at the age of thirteen. His self-published his first collection of poetry, Azaleas (1915) followed the modernist trend. It also depleted Palés's financial resources so that at age seventeen, he had to leave school to join the world of work. He supported himself variously, as a secretary, bookkeeper, journalist, civil servant, and teacher.

In 1918 Palés married Natividad Suliveres. They had a son, Eduardo, but the following year, Natividad died. Some of Palés's grief made its way into the poems of his second manuscript, El palacio en sombras (the darkened palace, 1919-20), which was not published. In 1921, Palés moved to San Juan, where he began sending his poems to magazines. With the writer Jose T. de Diego Padró, he created an avant-garde literary movement called "Diepalismo," (a combination of their names), which emphasized the musicality of language, especially through onomatopoeia. The movement produced one monaifesto and a single, collaboratively written poem: "Orquestación Deipálica," which was published in El Imparcial in 1921. In 1925, he collected Canciones de la vida media (songs at mid-life), another manuscript which was to remain unpublished. In 1926, however, La Democracia published "Pueblo Negro" (black town), the first flowering of what was to become an influential and lasting movement: by blending rhythms, folklore, and words from African and Afro-Caribbean culture into the Spanish verse of Puerto Rico, Palés created a new genre of Latin American literature that came to be called Afro-Antillian poetry.

In 1937, he published a collection of these poems as Tuntun de pasa y griferia (drumbeats of kink and blackness), which was recognized with an award from the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature. This collection also placed him, with Afro-Cuban poet Nicolas Guillén, as founder of the literary movement known as Negrismo. These poems also attracted some criticism toward Matos, who was white, for his appropriation of African elements. After Tuntún, he moved away from some of the Negrismo emphasis into more Antillean work that did not emphasize black themes. Luis Pales Matos is widely considered the most important lyric poet of Puerto Rico. His literary influence reached to the Greater Antilles, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In 1949 he began writing love poems to a woman he addressed as "Finí-Melé." In 1957 he published Poesía, 1915-1956 (1957). Until the time of his death, in February 23, 1959, he served as lecturer to the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Puerto Rico. He died in Santurce, Puerto Rico, of a heart attack.
Reference:  http://www.poets.org