The cold winter of 1895 in New York City was remembered Thursday by hundreds of persons who gathered under a sunny December sun in front of the Ateneo de Puerto Rico in San Juan to celebrate the 116th anniversary of the island’s national flag.
The one-star symbol, which was designed by a group of exiled pro-independence Puerto Ricans from the anti-imperialist Cuban Revolutionary Party, was raised with a message that sought for more unity with Boricuas who live abroad, as well as with the rest of Latin America.
With the participation of members from the urban music group Calle 13 (13th Street) and an eloquent speech by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois), the 2011 flag ceremony was dedicated to the Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, who after more than 30 years remains in a U.S. federal prison for allegedly planning seditious activities to overthrow the American colonial government in Puerto Rico through violent means while he was a member of the revolutionary group “Los Macheteros.”
“It’s about time to bring back Oscar and integrate him into Puerto Rican society,” said Rep. Gutiérrez during his speech where he advocated for the liberation of López Rivera.
The event was also dedicated to Calle 13 members for their role as musical ambassadors and their efforts to advocate for the decolonization of Puerto Rico and its political integration into the community of sovereign states in Latin America. The Ateneo’s Ramón Emeterio Betances medal was awarded to the group’s lead singer René Pérez Joglar (13th Street Resident) and his sister and also singer for Calle 13 Ileana Cabra Joglar (Peje 13).
“Education is the new revolution and not the fusil and while I respect those who gave their life for Puerto Rico, the true revolution is through education and with that, we will win any battle,” declared “Residente Calle 13.”
A statue of Ramón Emeterio Betances was also unveiled for the first time as members of the Ateneo’s board of directors presented it to the people minutes before the Puerto Rican flag was raised.
Betances is seen by many Puerto Ricans as the “father” of the country and, along with Eugenio María De Hostos, he was one of the first activists and scholars from the island who promoted the idea of an united Latin America with its totality of nations independent from political colonialism.
From the exile, Betances was one of the intellectual authors of the “Grito de Lares” (Lares Uprising) in September of 1868. He was a medical doctor by profession and dedicated his life to promote the independence of the Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico and Cuba.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Dec. 23, 2011 By Rafael R. Díaz Torres Puerto Rico Daily Sun
As expected, René used the forum to promote the Puerto Rican political independence cause.
“It is good to know that there is a percentage of Puerto Ricans who want independence, who are proud of only one flag with a sole star,” said Pérez Joglar in reference to the pro-independence people who gathered at the 2011 flag ceremony.