Grito de Lares


Grito de Lares
Grito de Lares
Flag of Puerto Rico.svg
Map of Puerto Rico highlighting Lares.svg
Municipality of Lares highlighted in red

Manuel Rojas drawing.jpg
Manuel Rojas
LARESFLAG2.jpg
Original Lares Revolutionary Flag

El Grito de Lares (The Cry of Lares)—also referred as the Lares uprising, the Lares revolt, Lares rebellion or even Lares Revolution—was the first major revolt against Spanish rule and call for independence in Puerto Rico. The short-lived revolt, planned by Ramón Emeterio Betances and Segundo Ruiz Belvis and carried out by various revolutionary cells established in Puerto Rico, occurred on September 23, 1868, and began in the town of Lares, Puerto Rico.

Contents

Seeds for revolt

In the 1860s, the government of Spain was involved in several conflicts across Latin America. It became involved in a war with Peru and Chile, and had to address slave revolts in Cuba. Puerto Rico and Cuba also suffered at the time a severe economic crisis due to increasing tariffs and taxes imposed by a mercantilist Spain on most import and export goods—the Spanish crown badly needed these funds to subsidize its troops in an effort to regain control of the Dominican Republic.

In the mid 19th century in Puerto Rico, many supporters of independence from Spain and others who simply called for liberal reforms were jailed or exiled. However, in 1865 Spain attempted to appease the growing discontent of the citizens of its remaining colonies in the continent by setting up a board of review that would receive complaints from representatives of the colonies and attempt to adjust legislation that affected them. This board, the "Junta Informativa de Reformas de Ultramar" (Overseas Informative Reform Board) would be formed by representatives of each colony, in proportion to their collective population, and would meet in Madrid. The Junta would report to the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Emilio Castelar.

José Julián Acosta

The Puerto Rican delegation was freely elected by those eligible to vote (male Caucasian property owners), in a rare exercise of political openness in the colony. Segundo Ruiz Belvis was elected to the Junta representing Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, something that horrified the then governor general of the island. To the frustration of the Puerto Rican delegates, including their leader, José Julián Acosta, the Junta had a majority of Spanish-born delegates, which would vote down almost every measure they suggested. However, Acosta could convince the Junta that abolition could be achieved in Puerto Rico without disrupting the local economy (including its Cuban members, who frowned upon implementing it in Cuba because of its much higher numbers of slave labor). Once he became prime minister in 1870, Castelar did approve an abolition bill, praising the efforts of the Puerto Rico members, sincerely moved by Acosta's arguments.

However, beyond abolition, proposals for autonomy were voted down, as were other petitions to limit the unlimited power the governor general would have upon virtually all aspects of life in Puerto Rico. Once the Junta members returned to Puerto Rico, they met with local community leaders in a famed meeting at the Hacienda El Cacao in Carolina, Puerto Rico in early 1865. Ramón Emeterio Betances, who supported independence from Spain and had been exiled by the Spanish government twice by that time, was invited by Ruiz and did attend. After listening to the Junta members' list of voted-down measures, Betances stood up and retorted: "Nadie puede dar lo que no tiene"[1] (You can't give away what you don't have.), a phrase that he would constantly use through the rest of his life when referring to Spain's unwillingness to grant Puerto Rico or Cuba any reforms. He would then suggest setting up a revolt and proclaim independence as soon as possible.[1] Many of the meeting's attendants sided with Betances, to Acosta's horror.

Frustrated by the lack of political and economic freedom, and enraged by the continuing repression on the island, an armed rebellion was staged by the pro-independence movement soon after.

Rebellion

Planning stage

Manuel Rojas house in 1965

The Lares uprising, commonly known as the "Grito de Lares" occurred on September 23, 1868, but was planned well before that date by a group led by Dr. Ramón Emeterio Betances and Segundo Ruiz Belvis, who on January 6, 1868 founded the "Comité Revolucionario de Puerto Rico" (Revolutionary Committee of Puerto Rico) from their exile in the Dominican Republic. Betances authored several "Proclamas" or statements attacking the exploitation of the Puerto Ricans by the Spanish colonial system and called for immediate insurrection. These statements soon circulated throughout the island as local dissident groups began to organize[citation needed].

That same year, poetess Lola Rodríguez de Tió, inspired by Ramón Emeterio Betances's quest for Puerto Rico's independence, wrote the patriotic lyrics to the existing tune of La Borinqueña.

Secret cells of the Revolutionary Committee were established in Puerto Rico by Mathias Brugman, Mariana Bracetti and Manuel Rojas bringing together members from all sectors of society, to include landowners, merchants, professionals, peasants, and slaves. Most were "criollos" (born on the island). The critical state of the economy, along with the increasing repression imposed by the Spanish, served as catalysts for the rebellion. The stronghold of the movement were towns located on the mountains of the west of the island.

On September 20, Francisco Ramírez Medina held a meeting at his house in which the insurrection was planned and set to begin in Camuy on September 29. The meeting was attended by Marcelino Vega, Carlos Martínez, Bonifacio Agüero, José Antonio Hernández, Ramón Estrella, Bartolomé González, Cesilio López, Antonio Santiago, Manuel Ramírez, Ulises Cancela. Cancela instructed Manuel María González to deliver all of the acts and important papers in regard to the meeting to Manuel Rojas.[2] On the night of September 19 a Spanish captain stationed in Quebradillas, Juan Castañón, overheard two cell members commenting that on September 29 the troop at Camuy would be neutralized by poisoning the bread rations. Given the fact that September 29 would be a holiday for most laborers, simultaneous uprisings would occur, beginning with the cell in Camuy, and following with the ones in various other points; reinforcements would come in through a ship, "El Telégrafo", and the cells would be reinforced by more than 3,000 mercenaries. Castañón and his men then entered González's residence and confiscated the documents of Medina's meeting and alerted his commanding officer in Arecibo. The cell leaders at the Lanzador del Norte cell in Camuy were soon arrested.

On the other hand, the Dominican government had supported Ramón Emeterio Betances, a Puerto Rico Nationalists seeking help from overseas, and allowed him to recruit and arm a small army and gave him a ship containing weapons. When everything was ready to undertake the expedition against the island, the Spanish government prohibited the departure of the expedition from Dominican territory, and the authorities in Saint Thomas, where he anchored the ship, occupied it.

While plans were thus disrupted Betances, the other leaders, fearing arrest, decided to bring forward the date for starting the revolution without waiting for Betances.Historia de la Insurrección de Lares, 1871</ref>

Proclamation of the Republic of Puerto Rico

Roman Catholic Church of Lares and Monument to the Grito at the Plaza de la Revolución

It was then agreed to first strike at the town of Lares on September 23. Some 400–600 rebels gathered on that day in the hacienda of Manuel Rojas, located in the vicinity of Pezuela, on the outskirts of Lares. Poorly trained and armed, the rebels reached the town by horse and foot around midnight. They looted local stores and offices owned by "peninsulares" (Spanish-born men) and took over the city hall. Spanish merchants and local government authorities, considered by the rebels to be enemies of the fatherland, were taken as prisoners. The revolutionaries then entered the town's church and placed the revolutionary flag knitted by Bracetti on the High Altar. The flag was divided in the middle by a white Latin cross, the two lower corners were red and the two upper corners were blue. A white star was placed in the upper left blue corner.[3] According to Puerto Rican poet Luis Llorens Torres the white cross on it stand for the yearning for homeland redemption; the red squares, the blood poured by the heroes of the rebellion and the white star in the blue solitude square, stands for liberty and freedom.[4] By placing the flag on the High Altar, the revolutionists were giving a sign that the revolution had begun. The Republic of Puerto Rico was proclaimed at (2:00 am local time) under the presidency of Francisco Ramírez Medina at the church and the revolutionaries offered freedom to the slaves who joined them.

Confrontation at San Sebastián

On the 24th, the rebel forces then departed to take over the next town, San Sebastián del Pepino. The Spanish militia, however, surprised the group with strong resistance, by moving troops from San Juan, Mayaguez, Ponce among others. This caused great confusion among the armed rebels led by Manuel Rojas, who were greatly disadvantaged without the Weapons provided by Betances. The insurgents retreated back to Lares. Upon an order from the governor, Julián Pavía, the Spanish militia soon rounded up the rebels and quickly brought the insurrection to an end.

Trials and amnesty

General Juan Ríus Rivera

Some 475 rebels, among them Dr. José Gualberto Padilla (leader of the Arecibo cell), Manuel Rojas and Mariana Bracetti were imprisoned in Arecibo, where they were tortured and humiliated. On November 17, a military court imposed the death penalty, for treason and sedition, on all the prisoners. Meanwhile, in Madrid, Eugenio María de Hostos and other prominent Puerto Ricans were successful in interceding with President Francisco Serrano, who had himself just led a revolution against the monarchy in Spain. In an effort to appease the already tense atmosphere on the island, the incoming governor, José Laureano Sanz, dictated a general amnesty early in 1869 and all prisoners were released. Betances, Rojas, Lacroix, Aurelio Méndez, and many more were sent into exile.[5] Juan Ríus Rivera, who as a young man, met and befriended Betances, had joined the pro-independence movement in the island. He became a member of the Mayagüez revolutionary cell "Capá Prieto" under the command of Brugman. Ríus, who had not participated directly in the revolt because at the time he was studying law in Spain, was an avid reader about information pertaining to the Antilles and learned about the failed revolt. He interrupted his studies and traveled to the United States where immediately went to the Cuba Revolutionary "Junta" and offered his services. Juan Ríus Rivera went to Cuba and became the Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban Liberation Army of the west after General Antonio Maceo's death. Mariana Bracetti moved to the town of Añasco, where she died in 1903.[6]

Aftermath

Tomb of Ramón E. Betances in Cabo Rojo, with the Lares flag in front, 2007

Even though the revolt in itself failed, its overall outcome was positive, since Spain granted more political autonomy to the island.

Spanish journalist José Pérez Morís (sometimes credited incorrectly as Perez Morris) wrote an extensive book against the Grito and its participants that, while biased heavily against them, served as the most accurate account of the events from an historical perspective. From an ideological standpoint, Pérez's editorializations are still widely used by opponents of Puerto Rican independence to denounce what they perceive as the over-glorification of a minor revolt. However, studies published recently point out that the Grito had far more sympathizers—and its logistics were more widespread within Puerto Rico—than the event's duration suggested.[7] During the years immediately following the Grito, there were minor pro-independence protests and skirmishes with the Spanish authorities in Las Marías, Adjuntas, Utuado, Vieques, Bayamón, Ciales and Toa Baja (Palo Seco).[8] Historians also point to the length of Pérez's comments versus his actual reporting of events in his book as a clue: had the event really been the minor revolt he asserted it to be, it would not deserve such an extensive, negative treatment.

The Grito de Lares as a holiday

Commemorating the Grito de Lares as a holiday was outlawed by both Spanish and American[citation needed] authorities in Puerto Rico, during different time periods. The Spanish prohibition lasted until its colonial rule over Puerto Rico formally ended in 1899. Consequently, besides minor yearly events by the people of Lares celebrated afterwards, the Grito was almost forgotten by most people. However, pro-independence supporters such as José de Diego and Luis Lloréns Torres intended to popularize the idea of commemorating the event as a holiday. De Diego, for instance, requested the foundation of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (which he proposed to the Puerto Rican Legislative Assembly) to occur on 23 September 1911, to coincide with the Grito's anniversary.

In the late 1920s members of the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico staged minor celebrations in the town of Lares as both historical and fund-raising efforts. When Pedro Albizu Campos gained control over the party, "frivolous" activities related to the Grito (such as the yearly fundraising dance) were terminated, and a series of rituals to commemorate the event in a dignified manner were instituted. One of Albizu's better known quotes is: "Lares es Tierra Santa, y como tal, debe entrarse a ella de rodillas" ("Lares is Sacred Ground, and as such, it must be entered on your knees").

Key to the rituals associated with the Grito is the gift, given by Chilean writer Gabriela Mistral to Albizu's family, of a tamarind tree obtained from Simón Bolivar's estate in Venezuela. The tree was planted at the Plaza de la Revolución with soil taken from the eighteen other Spanish-speaking Latin American countries. Albizu meant to give the Plaza a living symbol of solidarity with the struggle for freedom and independence initiated by Bolivar (who, while visiting Vieques, promised to assist the Puerto Rico independence movement, but whose promise never materialized due to the power struggles surrounding him), as well as a symbol of the bittersweet (as the trees' fruit) hardships needed to reach Puerto Rico's independence. As such, the Tamarindo de Don Pedro was meant to resemble the Gernikako Arbola in the Basque Country between Spain and France.

In 1969, under the administration of Governor Luis A. Ferré, a statehood supporter, Lares was declared a Historic Site by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, and is known as the birthplace of Puerto Rican Nationalism. The Grito is not a national holiday in Puerto Rico [1], although it is considered as such by the University of Puerto Rico (see above).

Photo gallery

  Gallery_of_Leaders_of_El_Grito_de_Lares  LARESFLAG2.jpg  Gallery of Leaders of El Grito de Lares  Flag of Puerto Rico (Light blue).svg


See also

References

  1. ^ a b Revista del Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico; Vol. 63, Num 1; January 2002; "El Mito Americano"; pg. 1; by Alberto Medina Carrero
  2. ^ El Pueblo de Lares Antes de la Rebelion de 1868. Las Conspiraciones y Sus Causas; By: Francisco Modesto Berroa Ubiera, Professor of the Escuela de Historia, and former director of the institute of History of the Humanities Faculty of the Autonumous University of Santo Domingo (Spanish)
  3. ^ The Women from Puerto Rico. Mariana Bracetti. Retrieved on September 26, 2007.
  4. ^ Lares
  5. ^ Puerto Rico Encyclopedia
  6. ^ Madrinas to us all: Significant Latinas in history
  7. ^ Moscoso, Francisco, La Revolución Puertorriqueña de 1868: El Grito de Lares, Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, 2003
  8. ^ Moscoso, Francisco, as quoted by Collado Schwarz, Ángel, Voces de la Cultura, Fundación La Voz del Centro, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2005

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  • Grito De Lares — El Grito de Lares (le cri de Lares) ou d’autres termes équivalents : soulèvement de Lares, révolte de Lares, rébellion de Lares, voire révolution de Lares désigne la révolte, dirigée contre la domination espagnole à Porto Rico, qui eut lieu… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Grito de Lares — Bandera Revolucionaria de Lares (Original) …   Wikipedia Español

  • Grito de Lares — El Grito de Lares (le cri de Lares) ou d’autres termes équivalents : soulèvement de Lares, révolte de Lares, rébellion de Lares, voire révolution de Lares désigne la révolte, dirigée contre la domination espagnole à Porto Rico, qui eut lieu… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Grito de Lares — originale Flagge der Revolution …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Grito de Lares — El Grito de Lares fue un frustrado intento de declarar la independencia para Puerto Rico del gobierno de España. Compuesta por unos 400 hombres de diferentes razas y clases sociales, la insurrección estaba destinada al fracaso. Sin apoyo externo …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Lares (Puerto Rico) — Lares es un pueblo y municipio en Puerto Rico. Mejor Conocido como Ciudad Del Grito . Bandera Histórica de Lares Contenido 1 Orígenes …   Wikipedia Español

  • Lares — Lares …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Lares, Puerto Rico — Infobox Settlement settlement type = subdivision type = Country subdivision name = United Statessubdivision type1 = Territory subdivision name1 = Puerto Rico subdivision type2 = subdivision name2 = timezone=AST utc offset= 4 timezone DST= utc… …   Wikipedia

  • Grito de Jayuya — Este artículo o sección necesita una revisión de ortografía y gramática. Puedes colaborar editándolo (lee aquí sugerencias para mejorar tu ortografía). Cuando se haya corregido, borra este aviso por favor. Archivo:Troops …   Wikipedia Español

  • Grito — Un grito o vociferación es la voz emitida de forma esforzada (chillido si es agudo y desarticulado). Por extensión, es la expresión de una reivindicación. Puede hacer referencia a: Gritos independentistas en América Véanse también: independencia… …   Wikipedia Español


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