The Anniversary Of El Grito de Lares, The Cry For Freedom

Above: The Lares flag, intended to become the national flag of the Republic of Puerto Rico

El Grito de Lares (The Cry of Lares) also referred to 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.

Efforts for the rebellion were initially planned in New York City by Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Haitian exiles, along with several locally prominent Sephardic Jews.

On plans designed by Dr. Ramón Emeterio Betances and Segundo Ruíz Belvis, nearly 1000 rebels gathered on September 23, 1868 in the hacienda of Manuel Rojas, located in the vicinity of Pezuela, on the outskirts of the town of Lares, in the midwest region of Puerto Rico.

Poorly trained and armed, the rebels…[were overtaken] by Spanish forces who ended the insurrection when the rebels attempted to take the next town, San Sebastian del Pepino.”

The entire, fascinating saga, which I won’t go into now, is detailed by poet Louis Reyes Rivera in Filiberto Ojeda Rios & Puerto Rican Sovereignty which I highly recommend.

At times we in the African diaspora, including Latinos, tend to think of ourselves as members of a nation with distinct cultures that are all completely separate. When one bothers to study the history one sees that before there were nationalities, indeed before there were nations, there were people in a common struggle demanding their freedom.

If Puerto Ricans joined forces with Cubans, Dominicans, Sephardic Jews and Haitians who had already won their independence by then and successfully took their freedom we would be living in a very, very different world. That’s why these rebellions were crushed. Some of the descendants of those intrepid souls now make time for separations, discrimination, oppression and colorism on top of outside oppression and it is such a shame.

So let the story be told and tell the children too. Great things can be accomplished we people recognize what they have in common and fight for better futures for their children.

Src: El Grito de Lares NY Latino Journal


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