Rafael Cancel Miranda was only six years old, when his parents took him to a special 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 afternoon until they started singing La Borinqueña.
At that moment the police started shooting…and kept on shooting…until 17 unarmed men, women and children had been slaughtered in the street. 200 more were wounded and sent to the hospital. It was the Ponce Massacre, and little Rafael was right in the middle of it.
As one of the Nurses of the Republic, Rafael’s 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 were not shot, but hundreds of others were…and shortly afterward, Rafael committed his first political act. He refused to salute the American flag in his first grade classroom.
Eleven years later, 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. He was jailed in Alcatraz, Leavenworth, and Marian federal prisons.
Pres. Jimmy Carter finally 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.
He has written a book about his life and his principles:
He is deeply committed to those principles, and he has shared them for over five decades:
THE POWER OF THE MEDIA
Last week, and to his credit, Lin-Manuel Miranda gave a two-minute rap performance on behalf of Puerto Rico. Within 48 hours this performance received close to 2.5 million YouTube views…and now, when you Google the words “Miranda Puerto Rico” you see 16 pages with 160 entries, almost every one of them about Lin-Manuel. Only two of those 160 entries are for Rafael Cancel Miranda.
THE TRUE LIFE-LONG ORIGINAL
The US media catapult and crown their own set of “icons” and “heroes.” For 118 years they have ignored Puerto Rico, controlled its media coverage, and distorted its history.
But Puerto Ricans are very clear on who their heroes are…and Rafael Cancel Miranda is one of the greatest. He is very much alive, and his commitment and sacrifice are much longer than two minutes.
We appreciate the advocacy of Lin-Manuel Miranda.
But we salute, and treasure, and give great honor, to the entire lifetime of courage, and sacrifice, and patriotism, of Rafael Cancel Miranda.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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