Dr. Evelina Antonetty 1922-1984, Warrior Woman of the Oppressed

By Carlos “Carlito” Rovira

Born on September 19, 1922, in Selina, Puerto Rico, Evelina Antonetty became an exemplary community activist in the way she confronted oppression with resilience, courage, and defiance. Antonetty was unique by demonstrating the best of women throughout the history of the Puerto Rican diaspora.

Evelina Antonetty’s life was centered around fighting for civil and human rights. She advocated for community control of schools, police, and all institutions. Evelina prioritized fighting for the well-being and future of children. And because Evelina’s vision involved the right to self-determination of her people, as a proud Boricua she defended the struggle for Puerto Rico’s independence.

Lolita Lebron and Evelina Antonetty

This warrior of the oppressed was called by various names of endearment in a community that loved her. However, because of her unrelenting commitment to working class people the racist New York Police Department described her as “Hell Lady of the Bronx”.

Her commitment to the struggle for justice and equality came about due to very good reasons – her own personal experiences with the horrors of oppression.

Evelina Antonetty’s name is famous today because she was loved by the community she fought for.

When she was just 10 years old, Evelina’s mother, a single parent, was compelled by poverty desperation to send her to New York City to live with an aunt. Extreme economic hardship prevailed throughout Puerto Rico. The Great Depression was even harsher in the setting of U.S. colonial dominance.

While living in El Barrio (East Harlem) during her teenage years Evelina developed a sense for community activism when she worked for the radical/socialist Congressman Vito Marcantonio. Evelina was also mentored by the Afro-Boricua author/poet and socialist labor leader Jesús Colón. She worked for Colón at the socialist influenced labor union District 65.

Here is a canvas portrait I painted in October 2022 as a tribute to Evelina Antonetty.
It is 24” X 30”, acrylic paint on canvas.

During the Civil Rights movement Evelina Antonetty played an important role as an unofficial representing link to the Puerto Rican community. She developed a good friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and earned the respect of other prominent Civil Rights leaders.

Evelina Antonetty was so in tune and willingly drawn by the events of the 1960’s-70’s mass upsurge that she became enthused by the Young Lords, with whom she became a good friend and ally. In some cases, she personally mentored members of the Young Lords.

The most notable of her accomplishments was based on children’s right to education. Antonetty was an organizer who is credited for the 1965 creation of United Bronx Parents. She is also known for her monumental achievement, the creation of the first bi-lingual school in the United States.

Evelina Antonetty with other members of United Bronx Parents.

Evelina is also remembered for being among the many militant voices on the streets opposing the filming of the racist Hollywood movie titled “Fort Apache”, which depicted Black and Latino people with disdain.

Evelina Antonetty’s name is famous today because she was adored by the Puerto Rican community of the Bronx and the diaspora everywhere for her militant disposition and vision of a better world. With the hardships and intensity of oppression that exist today we should all emulate Evelina’s militant qualities to build a new people’s movement. Her examples continue to serve as pillars of Puerto Rican fighting traditions.

Evelina Antonetty with members of her family.

For more information about the legendary Evelina Antonetty please visit: https://evelina100.org/

Dr. Evelina Antonetty – PRESENTE!

¡Saludo a los mártires del LEVANTAMIENTO DE JAYUYA del 30 de octubre de 1950! 

Click here below for English version to this article:

Por Carlos “Carlito” Rovira

El 30 de octubre de 1950 (hace 72 años) tuvo lugar en el municipio de Jayuya un combate armado que se extendió por todo Puerto Rico. Se conoció como el Levantamiento de Jayuya. Es un evento en Puerto Rico que los historiadores burgueses y los apologistas del colonialismo estadounidense preferirían diluir o borrar por completo de la historia.  

Hombres y mujeres decididos a lograr una república puertorriqueña independiente protagonizaron atrevidos enfrentamientos armados con policías entrenados por los Estados Unidos y la Guardia Nacional. La furia que siguió se debió a la política colonial estadounidense, que comenzó con la invasión militar de 1898. Antes de octubre de 1950, los colonizadores estadounidenses estaban poniendo en marcha un plan brutal para aplastar el movimiento independentista y todas las expresiones de anticolonialismo.  

La colonización de Puerto Rico estuvo motivada por los intereses económicos capitalistas de los bancos y corporaciones gigantes. Países como Gran Bretaña, Francia, Alemania, Italia, Bélgica, Japón y Estados Unidos se enzarzaron en una feroz competencia entre ellos para obtener colonias. Con la conquista de Filipinas, Guam, Cuba y Puerto Rico, Estados Unidos se convirtió en una potencia imperialista. Los gobernantes estadounidenses se imaginaban a sí mismos controlando el mundo, especialmente América Latina, donde habían definido sus intenciones de hacerlo suyo en la Doctrina Monroe de 1823.  

Sin embargo, esta tendencia histórica no pasó desapercibida. Millones de personas resistieron el ataque salvaje de este sistema, especialmente después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial y hasta bien entrada la década de 1960 y 1970 con el surgimiento de movimientos nacionalistas revolucionarios organizados en África, Asia y América Latina.  

Fue un período trascendental en la historia en el que los movimientos de liberación nacional se convirtieron en parte integral de la lucha de clases mundial, que llegó a su punto álgido en el apogeo de la llamada Guerra Fría. En los polos político-militares de este conflicto estaban Estados Unidos por un lado y la Unión Soviética por el otro.  

Las más notables en esta agitación histórica fueron las revoluciones en Argelia (1954), Angola (1961), Bolivia (1952), Congo (1960), China (1949), República Dominicana (1965), Egipto (1952), Irak (1958), Vietnam (1945) y Cuba (1959), así como los inspiradores movimientos de liberación de Palestina, Sudáfrica e Irlanda del Norte. El imperialismo no previó la resistencia de sus víctimas empuñando las armas en su búsqueda de la libertad. El levantamiento de Jayuya ocurrió en el contexto de las circunstancias mundiales existentes.  

El levantamiento de Jayuya de 1950  

Bajo la conducción del Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, el Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico proclamó el derecho inalienable del pueblo puertorriqueño a la independencia. Estos luchadores por la libertad se ganaron el respeto de múltiples sectores de la población.

Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos

El Partido Nacionalista también se hizo conocido por defender el derecho a utilizar cualquier medio necesario para lograr la liberación, incluido el uso de la fuerza armada. Esto los convirtió en el objetivo principal de las agencias represivas del colonialismo que buscaban destruir el movimiento independentista.  

Cuando la izquierda política en los Estados Unidos fue perseguida en las décadas de 1940 y 1950, como resultado de una cacería de brujas anticomunista encabezada por el notorio senador Joseph McCarthy, los puertorriqueños fueron testigos de una versión más dura de esa despreciable campaña. La gente en los EE. UU. apenas sabía que los nacionalistas eran sistemáticamente encarcelados y asesinados.  

Se crearon leyes para justificar el asesinato de nacionalistas a plena vista. La causa de la independencia fue criminalizada de plano. Tal fue la naturaleza de la Ley 53 de 1948, mejor conocida como Ley Mordaza; prohibió el Partido Nacionalista, prohibió la posesión y exhibición de la bandera puertorriqueña, prohibió las reuniones públicas, prohibió las críticas a la presencia estadounidense y la mención de la independencia en la literatura, las interpretaciones musicales y en todos los medios de comunicación. Esta ley viciosa tenía como objetivo destruir la identidad propia del pueblo puertorriqueño infundiendo miedo.  

Los medios de comunicación de EE. UU. solo contaron la narrativa falsa de los funcionarios de Washington que proyectaron el levantamiento como un “asunto interno entre los puertorriqueños”. Pero nada puede desestimar los fríos hechos que apuntan en sentido contrario: el supuesto “Gobierno de Puerto Rico” no nació por voluntad del pueblo, fue instalado por decreto colonial norteamericano. La ley federal exige que el presidente de los EE. UU. se haga cargo directamente de los asuntos allí en casos de emergencia. Además, el gobernador de Puerto Rico está obligado a informar y recibir instrucciones de la Casa Blanca.  

A principios de octubre de 1950, agentes de inteligencia del Partido Nacionalista obtuvieron información sobre un plan secreto del gobierno para eliminar el movimiento independentista. Las tácticas que se utilizarán en el ataque planificado implicaron atacar oficinas y casas de miembros del Partido Nacionalista. Con conocimiento del ataque inminente, la dirección del Partido optó por defender la dignidad nacional y su derecho a la autodefensa armada. Decidieron que lo mejor era tomar la iniciativa dando el primer golpe.  

En la mañana del 30 de octubre de 1950, una joven de nombre Blanca Canales encabezó un contingente armado de nacionalistas hacia Jayuya. Una vez arribados a la ciudad los patriotas lanzaron su ataque contra el cuartel de la policía. Luego, los nacionalistas rodearon la despreciada instalación y se produjo un tiroteo.  

Los funcionarios civiles y policiales se sorprendieron por la inesperada tenacidad de los luchadores por la libertad. Se ordenó a la policía que se rindiera y saliera del edificio con las manos en alto. Tan pronto como los nacionalistas tomaron el control de la situación, Blanca Canales procedió a dar la orden de incendiar el edificio.  

Rodeados por multitudes de residentes, los valientes patriotas levantaron la proscrita bandera puertorriqueña. Con su arma en alto, Blanca Canales agitó a los espectadores al gritar las históricas palabras de la lucha: “¡QUE VIVA PUERTO RICO LIBRE!” Declaró desafiante la independencia de Puerto Rico.

Blanca Canales
Blanca Canales bajo custodia.

 

También se produjeron violentos enfrentamientos entre policías y nacionalistas en Utuado, Ponce, Mayagüez, Arecibo, Naranjito, Ciales, Peñuelas y otras localidades. En Arecibo se produjo un tiroteo en el sitio de la estación de policía en el que murieron varios nacionalistas. Entre los 12 patriotas heridos estaba el ex preso político Carlos Feliciano.  

Carlos Feliciano

En San Juan, la policía atacó la sede del Partido Nacionalista. El Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, Isabel Rosado y otros emprendieron un combate armado hasta que fueron arrollados por los gases lacrimógenos. Luego, Campos fue condenado a cadena perpetua. Pero el gobernador títere de Estados Unidos, Luis Muños Marín, convenientemente indultó a Campos unos meses antes de su muerte en 1965. Muchos activistas independentistas, incluidos expertos médicos, sostienen que el deterioro físico de Campos se debió a la tortura con experimentos secretos de radiación.  

El Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos realizó después de ser abrumado por gases lacrimógenos en un tiroteo con la policía.

Se desplegaron aviones militares para bombardear Jayuya en el que se destruyó el 70 por ciento del municipio. La Guardia Nacional inmediatamente presionó para reprimir el levantamiento y recuperar el control de la ciudad. Se impusieron nuevas medidas represivas en todo el país, incluida la ley marcial.  

La represión vino con la toma de la Guardia Nacional del municipio de Jayuya.
Los nacionalistas fueron tratados sin piedad por las fuerzas armadas del colonialismo.
Las mujeres del Partido Nacionalista lucharon junto a sus homólogos masculinos con valor.

Un apagón de noticias mantuvo los eventos de la rebelión fuera de los principales medios de comunicación para evitar la condena del colonialismo en el tribunal de la opinión pública. Para garantizar el silenciamiento de las voces de la lucha emergente, los funcionarios estadounidenses intensificaron sus esfuerzos para tergiversar los hechos. Cuando los medios de comunicación preguntaron sobre la rebelión, el presidente Harry Truman proyectó falsamente que el conflicto era entre puertorriqueños.  

El 1 de noviembre de 1950, los miembros del Partido Nacionalista Oscar Collazo y Griselio Torresola fueron a Blair House en Washington, D.C. para asesinar al presidente Harry Truman. Su propósito previsto era contrarrestar las mentiras de Washington sobre el conflicto ante el mundo. Torresola murió y Collazo resultó gravemente herido en un tiroteo con los guardaespaldas de la Policía Capital y el Servicio Secreto de Truman. Pero el valiente acto de los dos mártires trajo a la luz lo que estaba ocurriendo en Puerto Rico.  

El significado de Jayuya  

Mientras los puertorriqueños se rebelaban con las armas en la mano, continuaban las luchas anticoloniales en África, Asia, el Caribe y América Latina. El Levantamiento de Jayuya en Puerto Rico fue parte de esa resistencia global de pueblos oprimidos y explotados.

Aunque los esfuerzos del Partido Nacionalista no lograron expulsar el colonialismo, se logró una victoria política. Este episodio demostró que los colonizadores obligarían a la gente a rebelarse. Por grande que sea el alcance represivo, nunca podrá borrar de la mente de los pueblos colonizados el orgullo de su identidad nacional y sus tradiciones revolucionarias.

El Levantamiento de Jayuya obligó a los gobernantes estadounidenses a cambiar su forma de dominación administrativa. En 1952, el Gobernador de Puerto Rico ya no era un oficial militar de alto rango designado por el Presidente de los Estados Unidos. Se introdujeron elecciones para el cargo de gobernador, pero solo para disfrazar la naturaleza colonizadora de la presencia estadounidense. Para 1957 se levanta la Ley 53 de 1948, (Ley Mordaza). La eliminación de esta notoria ley incluyó el levantamiento de la prohibición de la bandera puertorriqueña.

Si se examinara la cronología de las atrocidades cometidas por los EE. UU. en Puerto Rico, como la esterilización clandestina de mujeres, la epidemia de cáncer causada por los bombardeos de la Marina de los EE. UU. y la destrucción de Vieques, las miles de muertes causadas por el huracán María y la deliberada política de abandono que siguió y otros ejemplos de genocidio, entonces se puede comprender  por qué se justificó el levantamiento.

Por su propio razonamiento, los colonizadores estadounidenses también recordarán el Levantamiento de Jayuya, ya que reconocen la amenaza potencial que representan los puertorriqueños una vez que se rebelen. Y en ese inevitable momento las lecciones aprendidas de la experiencia de Jayuya serán decisivas en la futura batalla por una república puertorriqueña libre.

QUE VIVA PUERTO RICO LIBRE!

 

The Militant Legacy of Malcolm X

By Carlos “Carlito” Rovira

On May 19, 1925, an admirable and resolute revolutionary figure was born in Omaha, Nebraska. This figure, who would achieve prominence in the liberation struggle of the African American masses, would become known in history as Malcolm X.

Malcolm X addresses a rally in Harlem, New York City on June 29, 1963.

Malcolm was one of eight siblings, children of Louise Norton and Earl Little. Earl was an outspoken Baptist minister and a follower of the Black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. His defiant character drew the attention of white racists like the Ku Klux Klan and the Black Legion. These thugs often harassed Malcolm’s family, and one evening their house was set on fire.

The 1920s were a decade that bourgeois historians describe as the “roaring twenties.” This is a false and vain glorification, considering that this period of capitalist prosperity meant something totally different for African Americans—who were the victims of widespread white mob lynching and other forms of racist terror.

In 1929, Malcolm’s family moved to Lansing, Michigan in pursuit of a safe and better life. But the family was not able to escape the racist violence. Earl Little was murdered, his body mutilated and found lying beneath a streetcar. Malcolm X always maintained that his father was the victim of a racist killing.

This tragic event had a heavy impact on Malcolm’s family. Unable to cope with the emotional consequences of her husband’s death and the financial hardships involved in raising children alone, Louise Norton suffered a breakdown and was committed to a mental institution. The state took custody of all the children and placed them in separate foster care environments.

Malcolm was a studious child with ambitions to become a lawyer. One day, when Malcolm expressed his aspirations to a teacher, he was told that he would never become a lawyer because he was Black. This experience with racism disillusioned Malcolm and discouraged him from continuing school.

By the time Malcolm was a teenager, he made his way to New York City. He worked as a waiter for a period at the famous Small’s Paradise Club in Harlem. But he soon became a middleman for drugs, prostitution and other kinds of illegal activity.

In 1946, he and his closest friend Malcolm “Shorty” Jarvis moved to Boston. They were both arrested and convicted for burglary shortly after. Malcolm was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The Nation of Islam

It was in prison where Malcolm began to become political. He became acquainted with the Nation of Islam, led by Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm was attracted to the Muslim organization because it addressed the plight of racism and called for the right of African American people to have their own state.

Malcolm converted to Islam. Upon his release from prison in 1952, he became a devoted member of the NOI. It was at this point that he chose to repudiate his family name Little and instead use “X.” He considered the use of European names part of the legacy of chattel slavery. Black people were given the names of their slave masters to establish property ownership.

Elijah Muhammad was highly impressed with Malcolm X’s oratorical talents and charisma. Malcolm proved to be an important asset to the Muslim organization, and he became a ranking minister. Malcolm’s ability to draw the attention of many with his magnifying persona convinced the leadership to entrust him with the task of establishing NOI mosques in other U.S. cities.

Many viewed his captivating personality and the power of his imagery as surpassing the persuasiveness of Elijah Muhammad. People were drawn to rallies precisely to hear Malcolm X speak. His talents contributed to the astounding membership increase in the Nation of Islam from 500 in 1952 to 30,000 in 1963, according to the Malcolm X Estate.

‘No man should have so much power’

In one famous incident in 1957, before Malcolm X left the NOI, a member of the NOI was beaten by the police in Harlem and did not receive medical attention. Malcolm X demonstrated the power of a disciplined people’s campaign by marching members of the NOI to the police precinct. They stood in formation in front of the police station.

Malcolm insisted that the Black prisoner had a right to medical attention. Fearing a possible rebellion by the growing number of community residents who were emboldened by the Malcolm X’s leadership, the police brass agreed to obtain medical attention for the detainee. Thousands of Harlem residents followed the ambulance from the precinct to Harlem Hospital.

The police then ordered that the Muslim formation disperse. Malcolm very calmly but firmly explained to the police commander in charge that the crowd standing at attention did not recognize his authority and was not going to listen to his orders.

At that point, after ensuring that the beaten man was being treated, Malcolm gave a hand signal. With military discipline, the Muslims about-faced and marched away. The police commander was overheard saying to his subordinates, “no man should have that much power.”

In 1963, following the assassination of President John Kennedy, Elijah Muhammad instructed his followers to refrain from making public statements. He was concerned that any inflammatory statements could be used by the racist U.S. government to repress the NOI. But Malcolm could not resist demonstrating his disposition towards the rulers.

A portrait I painted as a tribute to Malcolm X.
The painting is 24″X 36″, acrylic on canvas.

His blunt assessment—“the chickens have come home to roost”—was a widespread sentiment in the most oppressed communities, who had been shut out of the gains of the white capitalist United States. Kennedy was killed by the same violent methods that the power structure perpetrates on the conquered and oppressed.

But it was a shock to wide layers of the white population, unaccustomed to such a calm and critical assessment of U.S. society. The statement was used by a hysterical media to whip up a fear campaign against Malcolm and the Nation.

Diverging politics

The statement infuriated the NOI leadership. Elijah Muhammad forbade Malcolm X from speaking publicly for 90 days.

Along with these organizational issues, political differences between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad became more difficult to reconcile.

Elijah Muhammad’s program was premised on the conservative notion of appeasement with the status quo. He sought to win legitimacy—but not on the basis of participating and giving leadership to the developing rebellious upsurge of the 1960s. He sought to promote a concept of Black capitalism, where the African American community would use the wealth, it generated to enrich a Black elite that could ultimately compete with U.S. racist capitalism on its own terms—but would not compete with it until the elite was powerful enough.

Malcolm X, on the other hand, was attracted to the militancy of the civil rights movement. His approach was characterized by no compromise with the oppressors. His understanding of the depths of racism in the United States led him to conclude that the present system was inherently hostile to the interests of the African American people. Struggle was necessary to face the challenge. On every issue connected to the plight of the Black masses, he never hesitated to be critical in assessing the cruelty of the existing power structure.

Malcolm X meeting Dr. Martin Luther King

In March 1964, after many bitter internal battles, Malcolm X severed his relationship with the NOI. He set up the Muslim Mosque, Inc. The same year, Malcolm traveled on a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Coming in contact with Muslims of different races, including whites, was an experience that qualitatively changed his outlook towards race relations and the liberation struggle in the United States. For the first time, Malcolm saw a potential for a revolutionary struggle on the basis of a united front in this country. Upon his return, he again changed his name, to El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz.

Government inflames split

Malcolm X became the target of a number of assassination attempts, including the Feb. 14, 1965 firebombing of his home where he lived with his family, Betty Shabazz and their four daughters. When Malcolm publicly disclosed the reasoning for his departure from the NOI, the relationship with his former colleagues grew dangerously antagonistic.

Malcolm’s tremendous leadership and ability to project hope for the oppressed Black masses was undoubtedly under close watch by police and federal intelligence agencies. This scrutiny would have been in full swing after he met with Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Sept. 19, 1960, at the Hotel Theresa, in Harlem.

Malcolm X meeting with Cuban President Fidel Castro Ruz at Harlem’s Theresa Hotel in 1960.

Malcolm suspected that the FBI and police kept him under very close watch, a suspicion that was proven correct in later years. He also suspected that the government was inflaming differences between the NOI and his organization. Malcolm was convinced that a scenario was being created that would lead to an attempt on his life.

On Feb. 21, 1965, in New York City’s Audubon Ballroom, three armed men approached Malcolm as he spoke on stage. The assassins repeatedly fired their weapons at close range, taking the life of the beloved and respected African American leader.

An example of militancy

There is no telling how Malcolm’s politics and tactics would have developed if he had not been assassinated. But one thing is certain: Malcolm X was a revolutionary. In the entire stretch of his political development, he demonstrated a quality of fierce hatred toward the status quo of racism and oppression. It was this trait that made him a militant and exemplary leader.


His impact was felt long after his death. Most notable, the Black Panther Party’s political line was heavily influenced by Malcolm’s defiant and revolutionary Black nationalism, as well as by Marxism-Leninism.

The struggle that ensued within the Nation of Islam between Malcolm X and his followers, on the one hand, and Elijah Muhammad and more bourgeois conservative elements, on the other, was essentially a struggle between forces who sought a revolutionary direction and those who desired to end oppression by mimicking the oppressors. This phenomenon has always existed in the movements of socially oppressed sectors.

Malcolm died when he was 39 years old. Although he lived a short life, he had a powerful impact on the African American and other revolutionary movements in the United States.

In particular, Revolutionaries of all nationalities and others who strive to build a unified, struggle learned from his powerful example of defiance against the grim reality of racism and alienation. They learned the need to build a unity based on respect for the revolutionary potential of the African American masses.

LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTIONARY LEGACY OF MALCOLM X

Tribute to a Boricua feminist warrior, Luisa Capetillo

Haga clic aqui para ver la versión en español

https://carlitoboricua.blog/?p=6127&preview=true&_thumbnail_id=6140

By Carlito Rovira

Born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Luisa Capetillo (October 28, 1879-October 10, 1922) was a warrior woman who made history in the struggle against women’s oppression. She was an advocate for Puerto Rico’s Independence who became one of the most famous labor leaders in the history of that colonized nation. She was also a writer, poet, a feminist, political activist, a socialist, and more specifically an anarchist.

There is so much to be told about Luisa Capetillo’s exceptional life and her numerous contributions to our history. At a young age, she became acquainted with Socialist literature which defined who she would be for the rest of her life.

Luisa Capetillo lived at a time in history when the world became engulfed in workers struggles. Labor strikes erupted everywhere as the fight for the eight-hour day, equal pay for women and the right to organize unions took centerstage in most countries.

Poster by Vagabond

The working class and poor peasants rose to the occasion in bitter struggles against the avaricious capitalist class. This historical current was accentuated with the 1917 Russian Socialist Revolution and the 1910-20 Mexican Agrarian Revolution.

In the colonial setting of Puerto Rico capitalist exploitation was no different, and so too was the instinct of Puerto Rican workers to rebel. Throughout Puerto Rico workers sought ways to resist the harsh conditions they faced being doubly exploited by foreign corporations under U.S. colonial domination.

Luisa Capetillo was a single mother who worked as a reader. Her job involved going to different cigar making factories to read out loud newspaper articles and short stories to tobacco workers as they sat performing their labor.

A depiction of Luisa Capetillo reading stories and newspaper articles to tobacco workers.

During the rise of the women’s suffrage struggle in Puerto Rico, Luisa was very active as an organizer. However, Luisa’s views differed sharply from others concerning the solution to stop the oppression of women. She believed that the fight for women’s emancipation was inseparable and intertwined with the class struggle.

A Portrait I made of Luisa Capetillo in September 2021.
Dimensions: 24″ X 30″, painted with acrylic paint on canvas

As a leader in the Federation of Tobaco Rollers (Federacion de Torcedores de Tabaco) and the Free Libertarian Federation of Puerto Rican Workers (Federacion Libre de Trabajadores de Puerto Rico), Luisa traveled throughout Puerto Rico challenging the inhumane conditions of workers – especially for women. As a labor organizer, Luisa fought for workers’ rights and equal pay of women in the Tobacco industry. She wrote many articles in union newspapers that were circulated throughout Puerto Rico.

Capetillo believed that her activities would usher in a better world. As a result of this conviction, she aspired to build an all-Caribbean labor organization. As part of this endeavor she travelled to New York, Tampa, Cuba, Dominican Republic and other locations.

Luisa Capetillo is perhaps most known for challenging backward traditions of gender and clothing. These absurd traditions were ingrained in Latin American culture by the Roman Catholic Church. Luisa preferred wearing men’s pants for comfort and as a statement of protest to women’s oppression.

Luisa Capetillo dressed to challenge backward traditions.

In 1915, while walking the streets of Havana, Cuba, she was arrested for her choice of garment. Her defiance was widely felt when she ridiculed the logic of her arrest, by proving in court that no laws were broken by her clothing preference. As a result, the case was dismissed and Capetillo was characterized by the press throughout the Caribbean as the “Puerto Rican Joan Of Ark”.

Today, Luisa Capetillo is remembered for her courageousness as a labor organizer. Her legacy is monumental in working class history and for her valor defending the human rights of Puerto Rican women.

Homenaje a una guerrera feminista Boricua, Luisa Capetillo

For English click the link below:

https://carlitoboricua.blog/?p=6097&preview=true&_thumbnail_id=6122

Por Carlito Rovira

Nacida en Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Luisa Capetillo (28 de Octubre 1879-10 de Octubre 1922) fue una mujer guerrera que hizo historia en la lucha contra la opresión de la mujer. Fue una defensora de la Independencia de Puerto Rico que se convirtió en una de las líderes sindicales más famosas en la historia de esa nación colonizada. También fue escritora, poeta, feminista, activista política, socialista y, más concretamente, anarquista.

Hay mucho que contar sobre la excepcional vida de Luisa Capetillo y sus múltiples aportes a nuestra historia. A una edad temprana, se familiarizó con la literatura socialista lo cual definió quién sería por el resto de su vida.

Luisa Capetillo vivió en un momento de la historia en el que el mundo se vio envuelto en luchas obreras. Las huelgas laborales estallaron en todo el mundo capitalista cuando la lucha por la jornada de ocho horas, la igualdad salarial para las mujeres y el derecho a organizar sindicatos ocuparon un lugar central en la mayoría de los países.

La clase obrera y los campesinos pobres estuvieron a la altura de las circunstancias en amargas luchas contra los gobernantes capitalistas. Esta corriente histórica se acentuó con la Revolución Socialista Rusa de 1917 y la Revolución Agraria Mexicana de 1910-20.

En el entorno colonial de Puerto Rico, la explotación capitalista no fue diferente, y también lo fue el instinto de resistencia de los trabajadores puertorriqueños. En todo Puerto Rico, los trabajadores buscaron formas de resistir las duras condiciones que enfrentaron al ser doblemente explotados por gigantes corporativos extranjeros bajo la dominación colonial estadounidense.

Luisa Capetillo era una madre soltera que trabajaba como lectora. Su trabajo consistía en ir a diferentes fábricas de cigarros para leer en voz alta artículos de periódicos y cuentos a los trabajadores del tabaco mientras se sentaban a realizar su trabajo.

Representación de Luisa Capetillo leyendo cuentos a trabajadores tabacaleros.

Durante el auge de la lucha por el sufragio femenino en Puerto Rico, Luisa fue muy activa como organizadora. Sin embargo, los puntos de vista de Luisa diferían marcadamente de los demás con respecto a la solución para detener la opresión de las mujeres. Ella creía que la lucha por la emancipación de la mujer era inseparable y estaba entrelazada con la lucha de clases.


Un Retrato que hice de Luisa Capetillo en Septiembre 2021.
Dimensiones: 24″ X 30″, pintado con pintura acrílica sobre lienzo.

Como líder en la Federacion de Torcedores de Tabaco (Federation of Tabacco Rollers) y la Federación Libre de Trabajadores de Puerto Rico (Federation of Libertarian Workers of Puerto Rico), Luisa viajó por todo Puerto Rico desafiando las condiciones inhumanas de los trabajadores, especialmente para las mujeres. . Como organizadora laboral, Luisa luchó por los derechos de los trabajadores y la igualdad salarial de las mujeres en la industria tabacalera. Escribió muchos artículos en periódicos sindicales que circulaban por todo Puerto Rico.

Capetillo creía que sus actividades marcarían el comienzo de un mundo mejor. Como resultado de esta convicción, aspiraba a construir una organización laboral para todo el Caribe. Como parte de este esfuerzo viajó a Nueva York, Tampa, Cuba, República Dominicana y otros lugares.

Luisa Capetillo es quizás más conocida por desafiar las tradiciones atrasadas de género y vestimenta. Estas tradiciones absurdas fueron arraigadas en la cultura latinoamericana por la Iglesia Católica Romana. Luisa prefirió usar pantalones de hombre por comodidad y como una declaración de protesta a la opresión de las mujeres.  

Luisa Capetillo se vistia para desafiar tradiciones atrasadas.

En 1915, mientras caminaba por las calles de La Habana, Cuba, fue arrestada por la selección de su manera de vestir. Su desafío se sintió ampliamente cuando ridiculizó la lógica de su arresto, al demostrar en la corte que no se violó ninguna ley por su preferencia de vestimenta. Como resultado, el caso fue sobreseído y Capetillo fue caracterizada por la prensa en todo el Caribe como la “Juana de Arca puertorriqueña”.

Hoy, Luisa Capetillo es recordada por su valentía como organizadora laboral. Su legado es monumental en la historia de la clase trabajadora y por su valor defendiendo los derechos humanos de las mujeres puertorriqueñas.