September 23 – Grito de Lares

Posted on September 23, 2014

This is the church of
Lares, with a memorial
to the Grito in front.
Imagine being in the town of Lares, Puerto Rico, on this date in 1868.

A group of men come into town at midnight. They loot the stores and offices that are owned by peninsulares (men born in Spain), and they take over the city hall. They enter the church and place a revolutionary flag on the High Altar.

At 2:00 a.m. they declare Puerto Rico, colony of Spain, to be henceforth the Republic of Puerto Rico.

A rebellion has begun!

The flag of
Lares is considered
Puerto Rico's first
This is Puerto Rico's modern flag.
Actually, Spain's forces put the revolt down in short order—even though more rebels rose up elsewhere on the island of Puerto Rico. 

But the rebellion did have some effect, because Spain gave the Puerto Ricans more freedom to rule themselves.

About thirty years later, Spain gave Puerto Rico all the rights of other autonomous regions of Spain.

But the very next year Spain ceded the island to the United States as the “spoils of war” after the Spanish-American War.

The U.S. granted Puerto Ricans citizenship, and they also have the right of self-rule. For years, while still under Spanish rule, Puerto Ricans had not been able to celebrate the Grito de Lares as a holiday, but some nationalists encouraged celebrations from 1911 on.

Something I would like to see...

I know that Puerto Rico has some beautiful beaches, but I really enjoy looking at old cemeteries, and the Cementerio Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis looks pretty gorgeous! Look at this beautiful tomb sculpture:

Something I would like to hear...

Apparently Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, has all these old cafes and bars with jukeboxes, and people not only play the songs on the jukeboxes, they sing along as well. And sometimes the singing crowds spill out onto the cobblestoned street. I think it would be fun to walk along a street in San Juan, listening to own crowd's enthusiastic singing fade away just as another crowd's rendition of another song becomes audible.

Something I would like to taste...

The icy treat called limber is a cross between shaved ice and sorbet. A man named Eddie has been serving a variety of delicious flavors of limber (but only a few choices a day) in plastic Dixie cups for decades now.

Learn more about Puerto Rico with this earlier post – and with the links it includes to even earlier posts! 

By the way...

If you were wondering why this holiday is called “Grito de Lares,” the word grito means “cry,” and an earlier revolution against Spain, Mexico's revolution, began with “el Grito de Dolores,” which means “Cry of Dolores.” (Dolores was the town in Mexico where the revolution began.) So Puerto Rico's use of the word “cry” honors that successful revolt from about half a century earlier.

Also on this date:

Autumn begins with the equinox in the Northern Hemisphere

National Day in Saudi Arabia  

Anniversary of Lewis and Clark's return from the Corps of Discovery

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