Rafael Cancel Miranda was only six years old, when his parents attended 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.
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’s 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 Lolita Lebrón in 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.
Last night, Don Rafael visited El Maestro in the Bronx. It was an honor to speak with him, to listen to him, and to feel the great spirit…of Don Rafael Cancel Miranda.
A true champion of Puerto Rico.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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