Ramon Emeterio Betances
Born: Apr 08, 1827 · Cabo Rojo, PR
Died: Sep 16, 1898 · Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Ramón Emeterio Betances y Alacán was a Puerto Rican nationalist. He was the primary instigator of the Grito de Lares revolution and is considered to be the father of the Puerto Rican independence movement. Since the Grito galvanized a burgeoning nationalist movement among Puerto Ricans, Betances is also considered “El Padre de la Patria” (Father of the [Puerto Rican] Nation). Because of his charitable deeds for people in need, he also became known as “El Padre de los Pobres” (“The Father of the Poor”).
Since he did tons of stuff, I’ll just do a bullet point list
- He would redeem child slaves during their Catholic baptism so they could grow up being free
- He was a medical doctor and surgeon
- He was one of the first social hygienist of the island
- During one of the cholera outbreaks in Puerto Rico, he was one of the five doctors attending the town of Mayaguez, which was struck significantly harder than the rest, with a population of 24,000. It is said that he had so many house calls that he would exhaust four horses daily.
- He was one of the mayor figures between Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico in their independence movements, even serving as a Dominican diplomat, and being asked to also represent Cuba by José Martí in France, though he was born in Puerto Rico.
- As noted above, he would become the primary instigators of the revolutionary movements, he wrote a short Declaration of Independence, which contains one of his most famous text: “The Ten Commandments of Free Men,” which in full reads:
- “Puerto Ricans
The government of Mme. Isabella throws upon us a terrible accusation.
It states that we are bad Spaniards. The government defames us.
We don’t want separation, we want peace, the union to Spain; however, it is fair that we also add conditions to the contract. They are rather easy, here they are:
The abolition of slavery.
The right to vote on all impositions.
Freedom of religion.
Freedom of speech.
Freedom of the press.
Freedom of trade.
The right to assembly.
The right to bear arms.
Inviolability of the citizen.
The right to choose our own authorities.
These are the Ten Commandments of Free Men.
If Spain feels capable of granting us those rights and liberties, they may then send us a Captain General, a governor…made of straw that we will burn in effigy come Carnival time, as to remember all the Judases that have sold us until now.
That way we will be Spanish and not otherwise.
If not, Puerto Ricans-HAVE PATIENCE!, for I swear that you will be free.”
- The Grito de Lares event was in part led by him, which made Puerto Rico an unofficial independent and sovereign country… for about a day, since the rebellion was quickly stopped.
- He died a few months after the US occupation of Puerto Rico in the Spanish-American War due to a kidney infection (he would’ve lived longer had there been hemodialysis at the time).
- Frustrated by what he perceived as the unwillingness of Puerto Ricans to demand their independence from the United States while the island territory was annexed (the event occurred just days before his death), he uttered his final political stance: “No quiero colonia, ni con España, ni con los Estados Unidos” (“I don’t want a colony status, neither with Spain nor with the United States”). When reminded by de Hostos through a letter of what was happening in the island, he responded, highly frustrated, with a phrase that has become famous since: “¿Y qué les pasa a los puertorriqueños que no se rebelan?” (“And what’s wrong with Puerto Ricans that they haven’t yet rebelled?”)
I’ll admit that I copy-pasted some of the stuff here from Wikipedia, but it’s kinda late at night right now, and the information is legit. His wiki page is surprisingly long too, so there’s tons of stuff here to read and share.