January 11, 2012 - Hostos Day in Puerto Rico

This is the birthday of Eugenio Maria de Hostos, a writer and statesman who worked hard to promote human rights and to and gain independence for Puerto Rico.

Hostos was born into a well-to-do family living in Puerto Rico, and he traveled to Spain to go to “high school” and college. When Spain disappointed him in 1869 by refusing to grant Puerto Rico its independence, Hostos traveled to the United States. Later he moved to the Dominican Republic; he married a Cuban woman in Venezuela, and they had children in the Dominican Republic and Chile. Hostos traveled all over Latin America, the Caribbean, the U.S., and France; he worked to better education, to promote better treatment of Chinese immigrants, and to achieve women's rights, particularly in science and education.

Hostos's dream was to help his nation, Puerto Rico, and other Caribbean nations to gain independence from Spain. He promoted the idea of an Antillean Confederation of Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Eventually the first two did become independent nations, but Puerto Rico became a territory of the U.S.

(To be fair, a lot of people in Puerto Rico preferred to be annexed to the U.S. than to achieve full independence. But not Hostos; he was very disappointed. He dictated in his will that his body not be buried in Puerto Rico until it became a fully independent nation...and so, to this date, his body remains buried in the Dominican Republic.)

Learn more about Puerto Rico in earlier posts here, here, and here

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