Rafael Cancel Miranda was six years old when his mother and father took him to a beautiful event in Ponce.
It was Palm Sunday in 1937. Families and children, many of them the same age as Rafael, arrived from all over the island.
It was a beautiful event, until they started singing La Borinqueña. At that moment the police started shooting, and kept shooting, until 18 unarmed men, women and children had been slaughtered in the street. It was the Ponce Massacre, and Rafael was right in the middle of it.
As one of the Nurses of the Republic, his mother was wearing a white nurse’s uniform. It was soaked with blood as she crawled over bodies in search of her husband.
Miraculously, Rafael and his parents managed to return home unharmed. Shortly after that, Rafael committed his first political act in his first grade classroom, when he refused to salute the American flag.
In 1948, Rafael marched for Puerto Rico’s independence, and refused to be drafted into the US military.
Rafael Cancel Miranda marches in early 1948
In 1954, he joined the attack on the US Congress, and was imprisoned for 25 years as a result. President Jimmy Carter officially pardoned him in 1979.
Since that time, and up until today, Don Rafael has been a constant and passionate advocate for the independence of Puerto Rico.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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