For the past thirty-four years, Oscar López-Rivera, the longest held political prisoner in Puerto Rican history, has commemorated El Grito de Lares from within a U.S. prison. From his cell in the Federal Correctional Institute in Terre Haute, IN, he wrote a brief reflection on the significance of El Grito.
It’s very important to celebrate the Grito de Lares, especially to learn more about that glorious event and to have a good appreciation about the courageous men and women who dared to sow the seed of struggle for the independence and sovereignty of our beloved homeland. We can raise the question, why was the abolition of slavery so important to the heroic women and men who took up arms against Spanish colonialism? Would the Spaniards have abolished slavery without their uprising? Would the colonizers have continued taking Puerto Ricans for granted? Would the anti-colonial struggle have had the continuity it has been able to have without this event? If the Grito de Lares had not happened, could so many generations of Puerto Rican freedom fighters have given continuity to the anti-colonial struggle?
The best leaders, who have succeeded them and emulated their example, have looked at the Grito de Lares as the most important symbol of the Puerto Rican anti-colonial struggle. They have used it as a platform not only to raise consciousness, but also as one that will not allow Puerto Ricans to forget that we have the potential of becoming an independent and sovereign nation as long as we dare to struggle for it.
For us, El Grito de Lares is as important as the Grito de Dolores is to Mexicans and the Grito de Yara is to our Cuban brothers and sisters. The Grito de Lares was only the beginning of a revolutionary process. Its celebration in the Puerto Rican diaspora and in Puerto Rico confirms that our struggle to end colonialism continues, and that generation after generation has carried in its heart our national boricua identity. Indeed, the seed sown by the heroic women and men in the Grito de Lares—that 23rd of September, 1868—has become a perennial one. Our struggle continues and victory will be ours because we dare to struggle and to win.
EN RESISTENCIA Y LUCHA,