Puerto Rican Pro-Independence Leader Juan Mari Brás Passes Away

Pro- independence leader Juan Mari Brás died today from health complications related to lung cancer. Founder of the Puerto Rican Socialist Party and co-founder of the Puerto Rican Pro-Independence party, Mari Brás was 82 years old.

Sadly, Mari Brás died without ever having witnessed justice or obtained answers for the assassination of his son, Santiago Mari Pesquera, in 1979. However, according to his daughter Mari Mari Narváez, he died in peace, believing that someday Puerto Rico will be free. Narváez explains, “He was an eternal optimist. My father fought for 68 years every day of his life for the independence of Puerto Rico. Since my childhood, I have never known him without his love of independence.” She stresses, “He was never embittered. When they killed Chagui, he said at his tomb, ‘revenge does not fit into the hearts of true revolutionaries.’” She adds that the Commission of Truth and Justice are still working to resolve the death of her brother.

Mari Brás was born in Mayagüez on December 2, 1927, the only son of Mercedes Brás Graña and Santiago Mari Ramos. Former Professor at the Eugenio María de Hostos Law School, a lawyer, and writer, he was one of the founders of the pro-independence weekly newspaper Claridad. He was a journalist for over five decades. In 1949 he entered George Washington University to study law, from which was expelled in 1950 following the Blair House attack. Hours after the attack, he was arrested and interrogated, but released because he was not linked to the event. Mari Brás founded the Pro independence Movement (MPI) in 1959, which later became the Puerto Rican Socialist Party.

Mari Brás was the first pro-independence Puerto Rican leader to come before the United Nations to denounce the colonization of Puerto Rico by the United States. He was also the first person to receive a certificate of Puerto Rican citizenship from, then Puerto Rico Secretary of State, Fernando Bonilla. As part of his strategy in the struggle for independence, in 1994, he had renounced U.S. citizenship. Subsequently, the U.S. Department of State declared this act void. In 2009, declassified FBI documents revealed that the agency was aware that between 1975 and 1976, a group of Cuban exile planned to assassinate Mari Brás.

This afternoon, the independence leader’s body will be brought to the Colegio de Abogados [Bar Association] where there will be a tribute for the deceased revolutionary. Tomorrow, following a funeral motorcade to Mayagüez, a celebration of his life will take place at the public square. In accordance to his wishes, the funeral procession will go by his childhood home while will his friends and family sing the famous danza “Verde luz,”  there will be a mass at the Cathedral of Mayagüez, and he will be buried at the Mayagüez Cemetery.

As a tribute from Repeating Islands, I would like to share with our readers “Verde luz” sung by Haciendo Punto en Otro Son:

[Many thanks to David Labiosa for bringing this item to our attention.]

For full story (in Spanish), see http://www.elnuevodia.com/fallecejuanmaribras-776880.html

To listen to Juan Mari Bras’ moving farewell to his son, see

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