History / Grito de Lares 1868
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Versión español
Dr. Ramón Emeterio Betances
The Grito de Lares (Lares Uprising) is the popular name given to the revolution against Spain for Puerto Rican independence, which took place in the town of Lares on September 23, 1868. In the 19th century, in Latin America, the expression grito – literally a shout or outcry – was used as a synonym for a declaration of independence. The Grito de Dolores (Mexico, 1810), the Grito de Ipiranga (Brazil, 1822), and the Grito de Yara (Cuba, 1868) are examples of this.

The armed insurrection began in Lares, a small town located in western central Puerto Rico, in one of the regions engaged in the commercial agriculture economy of that period. At the time of the Grito, there were some 500 haciendas producing coffee in the lush green, well-watered, tropical mountains. In Puerto Rico as a whole, along with the production of other commercial crops such as sugar cane and tobacco, the basic need for food was met through subsistence agriculture, cattle raising, and fishing. In fact, the military head of the Grito de Lares, don Manuel Rojas, was one of the principal coffee growers.

Late on the night of September 23, before the rebel army of about a thousand men which had gathered on his hacienda, General Rojas proclaimed the independence of Puerto Rico. "It was at Rojas’s home," Spanish Governor José Laureano Sanz said, "that the rebellion was born" (Report of July 4, 1869).

In his call to revolution, as historian Olga Jiménez has documented, General Rojas "addressed the troops that were outside and told them of the need to overthrow the government in power to end its tyrannical practices. He mentioned the exorbitant taxes, the corruption of government employees, and the duty to bring such a tyrannical regime to an end." After exhausting all the peaceful and legal approaches permitted by Spain in order to win Puerto Rico’s own national sovereignty, the Puerto Rican revolutionaries chose the path of armed revolution to end Spain’s colonial domination.

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