Because of the long distance that separated the Hato de Lariz from the town of San Sebastián, the residents of Hato de Lariz asked to be separated and created as independent town in the early 17th century. They claimed that because of the distance, they could not attend mass and therefore the physical, moral and spiritual progress of the community was affected.
In 1824, the mayor of Utuado sent a document to Governorgovernor: in the Spanish colonies, the governor was the figure immediately beneath the viceroy in political and legal affairs. Like the alcaldes mayores, the governors could not be vecinos, encomenderos or owners of land or mines in the jurisdiction. When the title was added to that of Captain General, the position also implied the highest military authority. Governorships were applied to sparsely populated colonies or frontier zones. Puerto Rico was a frontier zone. Miguel de la Torre in which he stated that the residents of Lariz lacked a justice system because of the distance to San Sebastián del Pepino and the difficult roads. He also testified to the favorable circumstances of the territory and said that 273 people lived there. Based on the document, Juan Francisco de Sotomayor and Pedro Vélez y Borrero were charged with carrying out the necessary steps to found the town that is known today as Lares.
In the beginning, the residents considered building a town on a flat area on the one hundred cuerdas donated by Martín Medina, but later they decided to build it on fifteen cuerdas donated by the late Juan Antonio de Toledo. The decision was based on the availability of needed materials and water at this higher site.
Governor Miguel de la Torre approved the petition to found the town and separated Lares from San Sebastián del Pepino on April 26, 1827. Founding the town had to wait for two years, as in that era it was a requirement that a contribution be paid to the church.
The first mayor of Lares was Juan Francisco de Sotomayor. Although the town was founded in 1827, the oldest parish records date to 1838. In 1853, Lares consisted of the sectors of Lares Pueblo, Lares (sector), Cibao, Bartolo, Buenos Aires, La Torre, Mirasol, Pileta, Río Prieto and Espino.
The separatist movement began on the island in 1868 during the Spanish Revolution, which resulted in the dethronement of Isabel II. The revolution raised the hopes of separatists on the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico. The insurrection, led by Ramón Emeterio Betances and known as "El Grito de Lares," was aimed at proclaiming independence for Puerto Rico.
On September 14, 1868, the local leadership in Lares held a religious service to ask God to help them during the insurrection, which was to occur a few days later. According to some historians, however, the revolt took place several days earlier than planned because the plans were discovered, and on September 23, 1868, Manuel Rojas led 185 rural men into the fight.
Although the first group that entered the town was turned back by the militia, they persisted and marched toward the main plaza. Shortly thereafter, a troop of Spanish veterans arrived from Moca and the separatists were defeated.
The revolt lasted just ten hours and resulted in four men killed, four injured, and six or seven taken prisoner. The Spanish authorities began an immediate persecution of the insurrectionists and their sympathizers. It was decided that of the more than 500 people arrested, only those who were armed when captured or who had participated in the attack would be tried. A total of seven insurgents were sent to Cádiz. Depositions were taken from the rest of the prisoners and they were left in jail. They later were given amnesty, because of the revolution that took place the same year in Spain, and were freed.
Thirty years later, in 1898, the United States Army occupied Lares during the Spanish-American War. It was first occupied by troops under the command of General Henry, although he later withdrew his troops to Utuado. Spanish forces were sent from Arecibo to retain Lares.
Over the years, Lares became a coffee-growing center and its population grew rapidly. It became one of the most populous towns in Puerto Rico and in 1899 it had 20,883 residents. That same year, San Ciriaco Hurricane hit the island on August 8 affected crops and populations.
In 1946, the Puerto Rico Planning Board expanded the urban zone of Lares to includes Lares sector. This was the last change in the territorial organization of the municipality.
According to Villar Roces, there are many Basque surnames in the municipality, such as Segarra, Echemendía, Irrizary, Galaosa and De la Jara, which correspond to the founding families.
The design of the flag was presented at a meeting of the Bravo Center group in late May and early June of 1868 by Manuel Rojas. It had been created by Ramón Emeterio Betances to be used as a symbol of the revolt and as the flag of Puerto Rico after the island gained independence.
The flag consists of a white Latin cross in the center with four rectangles, located above and below the arms of the cross. The white cross represents the yearning of the fatherland and redemption. The upper parts are light blue in color and the lower parts are a brilliant red. The red symbolizes the blood spilled by the heroes of the rebellion and the blue represents solidarity. It also has a white, five-point star located in the center of the upper left rectangle. This represents freedom. In 1952, the Municipal Assembly and the mayor proclaimed the flag the official representation of the municipality of Lares.
Coat of Arms
The coat of arms was adopted in 1952. In the center is the flag of Lares. The chain that surrounds its represents the name of Lares and perpetuates the surname of the settlers. It also underlines the objective of the Lares insurrection, which was to free Puerto Rico from the chains of colonialism. The coat of arms, placed in a semi-circle with the words "Lares, Ciudad del Grito" below, constitutes the seal of Lares.
Version: 09032502 Rev. 1