Previously, I posted on the upcoming tribute to Calle 13 (who will receive the Ramón Emeterio Betances Medal) along with a flag ceremony dedicated to Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. The multiple events on Thursday, December 22, 2011, at the Puerto Rico Athenaeum are meant to celebrate three generations of leaders that represent the struggle for the survival of the island’s culture. The third event is near and dear to my heart: the unveiling of a new sculpture of the leading nineteenth century Puerto Rican thinker Ramón Emeterio Betances, who is considered in Puerto Rico as Padre de la Patria [Father of the Homeland] (and who hails from my hometown, Cabo Rojo). On Thursday, the Board of the Puerto Rican Athenaeum will unveil the statue of Betances in the Athenaeum Gardens (in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico) at 12:00 noon.
The statue of the patriot, which represents “the struggle of the Puerto Rican people for the reaffirmation of their spirit of nation, homeland and identity,” was created by Dominican sculptor José Cadaveda. Its base, on which one can read Betances’ “Ten Commandments of Free Men,” was designed by Puerto Rican artist Antonio Martorell. It is set in a structure designed by master builder Joshua Santos.
Ramón Emeterio Betances was born in Cabo Rojo in 1827 and died in France in 1898. Betances is best known as a novelist, essayist, poet, orator, and political activist, but he was also a doctor, specializing in surgery and ophthalmology, a public health administrator who championed social hygiene policies, and a diplomat. He was an abolitionist and a nationalist leader who sought independence and the end of colonial rule for Puerto Rico and the primary force (with Segundo Ruiz Belvis) behind the Grito de Lares insurrection. Therefore, he is considered as one of the fathers of the independence movement in Puerto Rico. He served as ambassador in the Dominican Republic and Cuba and believed in the creation of a confederation of the Greater Antilles [Confederación Antillana]. [See previous post Lecture on The Complete Works of Ramón Emeterio Betances.]
For related articles (in Spanish), see http://www.primerahora.com/ateneodevelaraestatuadelprocerramonemeteriobetances-594152.html and http://www.noticel.com/noticia/115068/homenaje-del-ateneo-a-calle-13.html