Thursday, September 23, 2010

El Grito still resonates.....El Grito de Lares

It was 142 years ago when the first major revolt against Spanish rule and a call for independence was born. Born out of frustration from lack of political representation, and economic freedom.

During the mid 1800's, due to increasing tariffs and taxes imposed by Spain, Puerto Rico was suffering a severe economic crisis. Obviously, there was a growing discontent with the colonial rule. Those who called for independence from Spain or liberal reforms were either jailed or exiled. To appease some of the discontent,  in 1865, Spain allowed for the creation of a board of review (Junta Informativa de Reformas de Ultramar). This board was made up of mostly Spanish-born representatives which, of course, voted nearly all suggestions down.

Ramón Emeterio Betances, a staunch believer in the abolition of slavery, had for many years sought out to liberate as many slaves as possible by buying out their freedom. The Spanish government, which ruled over Puerto Rico, did not look upon Betances and company very kindly. Threatened with exile, Betances and Segundo Ruiz Belvis fled Puerto Rico for the Dominican Republic. A change in government, 1862, allowed for Betances to return to Puerto Rico. His return, the eventual creation of the review board and the voting down of almost every measure that was suggested were the seeds for revolt.

Betances would again be exiled in 1867, leaving for New York then the Domincan Republic and eventually the U.S. Virgin Islands. From exile, Betances organized revolutionary cells in Puerto Rico. The stage had been set for revolution on September 29, 1868. Unfortunately, authorities on the island discovered the plan so the date of the planned revolution had to be moved up.

Thus, on September 23, 1868, the town of Lares was taken over, authorities taken prisoner and the town church served as the place for rising the revolutionary flag knitted by Mariana Bracetti. It was then, that the Republic of Puerto Rico was proclaimed. With this proclamation, the revolutionaries departed for the next town, San Sebastián del Pepino (San Sebastián).  There they met up with strong resistance and retreated back to Lares. Eventually, the Spanish Militia surrounded the town of Lares and ended what is known as "El Grito de Lares."

Today, El Grito still resonates.... "Lares es Tierra Santa, y como tal, debe entrarse a ella de rodillas" - Pedro Albizu Campos

2 comments:

  1. I am always grateful for your history lessons.

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  2. I am even more grateful for your visits here..thank you.

    ReplyDelete