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Happy Birthday, Dr, Ramón Emeterio Betances!
Ramón Emeterio Betances y Alacán (April 8, 1827 – September 16, 1898) was a Puerto Rican nationalist. He was the primary instigator of the Grito de Lares revolution and is considered to be the father of the Puerto Rican independence movement. Since the Grito galvanized a burgeoning nationalist movement among Puerto Ricans, Betances is also considered "El Padre de la Patria" (Father of the Puerto Rican Nation). Because of his charitable deeds for people in need, he also became known as “El Padre de los Pobres” (“The Father of the Poor”).
Betances was also a medical doctor and surgeon in Puerto Rico, and one of its first social hygienists. He had established a successful surgery and ophthalmology practice. Betances was also an abolitionist, diplomat, public healthadministrator, poet, and novelist. He served as representative and contact for Cuba and the Dominican Republic in Paris, France.
An adherent of Freemasonry, his political and social activism was deeply influenced by the group’s philosophical beliefs. His personal and professional relationships (as well as the organizational structure behind the Grito de Lares, an event that, in theory, clashes with traditional Freemason beliefs) were based upon his relationships with Freemasons, their hierarchical structure, rites and signs.
Betances was born in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, in the building that now houses the "Logia Cuna de Betances" ("Betances’ Cradle Masonic Lodge"). Betances’ parents were Felipe Betanzos Ponce, a merchant born in Hispaniola (in the part that would later become the Dominican Republic; the surname Betanzos transformed into Betances while the family resided there), and María del Carmen Alacán de Montalvo, a native of Cabo Rojo and of French ancestry. They were married in 1812.
While Ramón was in France, his father sought to move the family’s registration from the “mixed race” to the “white” (Caucasian) classification of families in Cabo Rojo. The process, when successful, entitled the requester to further legal and property rights for him and his family, and was necessary to allow his daughter, Ana María, to marry José Tió, who was a Caucasian. In the case of Betances’ father, the process lasted two years, and was formalized in 1840, but not before having to have the family’s lineage and religious affiliations exposed to the general public, something that embarrassed them all. Betances was considerably annoyed by the entire ordeal, since he was the first to acknowledge that he and his entire family were not "blancuzcos" (“whitish”, a legal term) but "prietuzcos" (“blackish”, as Betances mocked it in his letters) instead. To him the procedure reeked of hypocrisy.
Betances claimed in his lifetime that a relative of his, Pedro Betances, had revolted against the Spanish government of Hispaniola in 1808 and was tortured, executed, and his body burned and shown to the populace to dissuade them from further attempts.[dead link] Meanwhile, Alacán’s father, a sailor, led a party of volunteers that tried to apprehend the pirate Roberto Cofresí y Ramírez de Arellano in 1824 and did arrest some of Cofresí’s crew, for which he was honored by the Spanish government.
Betances was the fourth of six children; the oldest of which would die shortly after birth; Betances was the only male among the surviving siblings. The family was described as being of mixed race in records of the day. His mother died in 1837, when he was nine years old, and his father remarried in 1839; the five children he had with María del Carmen Torres Pagán included Ramón’s half-brother Felipe Adolfo, who was not involved in politics (according to Ramón) but was nevertheless arrested following the Grito de Lares years later.
His father eventually bought the Hacienda Carmen in what would later become the nearby town of Hormigueros, and became a wealthy landowner. He owned 200 acres (0.8 km2) of land, a small sugar mill, and some slaves, who shared their duties with free workers. There is speculation that he later freed his slaves, persuaded by his son Ramón.
Returning to his native Puerto Rico, Betances had the opportunity to demonstrate their medical knowledge and their egalitarian ideas in 1856 , when a virulent cholera epidemic that swept the town of Mayagüez he earned a well-deserved recognition among disadvantaged populations , which Betances attended unconditionally.
Well become one of the most popular Puerto Rican social movements figures, openly spoke out against slavery and became only found a secret association whose aims were directed toward its abolition . Because of these activities, he was banished from the Caribbean island in 1858 , and he returned to France was willing to marry his niece Maria del Carmen Heuri .
But she suddenly died of typhoid fever , unfortunately that plunged the humanistic physician in an acute phase of despair that was well reflected in the story titled La vierge of Boriquen , a tale of romantic marked morbidity in which, from the clear American influences Edgar Allan Poe, can be seen curious anticipations of subsequent thematic and formal resources characteristic of surrealism ( empire of the absurd, dreamlike atmosphere , occultism , dementia, number symbolism , etc. . ) .
The exile was lifted, and soon he returned to Puerto Rico to focus primarily on medical activities and social issues that were fully involving the nationalist spirit of patriotism spread between those years many of his countrymen. Publications , thereafter , were directed almost exclusively towards political issues , which increasingly appeared Betances as one of the most liberal and revolutionary voices of the island.
In 1868 he took an active part in the independence movement known as the Grito de Lares, a result which was turned into the first independent chairman of the provisional government resulting from this uprising against the Spanish sovereignty. But the failure of this action (which was reduced to a mere anecdote in the history of Spanish American independence , not having the support of all liberal forces ) sent back into exile Betances , who soon became linked with the struggles for the independence of Cuba .
He continued to pursue writing, now overturned the journalistic genre and socio- political issues that were the focus of their concerns. In New York he founded , together with other comrades, the Republican Society of Cuba and Puerto Rico , from which he launched a press campaign which allowed him to spread his emancipatory articles by Venezuela (through publications Federalist and The National Review) and generally throughout the Caribbean area , where he left numerous articles prints signed under the pseudonym ” the West Indian ” .
The satirical irony that he displayed in these Betances journalism , coupled with its ease for growing a direct and entertaining style ( devoid of rhetorical bombast that , at that time , used to tax the journalistic political discourse ) , became the author in one of the most widely read intellectuals from around the Caribbean, where he ran the need to establish a Confederation of the West Indies and knew prevent (not to question the Spanish sovereignty ) over the danger posed by the establishment of strong ties of dependency with the emerging imperialism United States of America .
In his revolutionary idealism , reached a dream turned into a sort of neutral environment from which it could contribute to the maintenance of relations among all peoples and nations of the world Antilles. The ideas set out with determination and courage in a Parisian publication ( Latin American Journal ) , did not enjoy the support of the social forces that may have contributed to its consolidation ; nevertheless , Ramón Emeterio Betances left a considerable influence on the intellectuals and progressive politicians Caribbean later , who recognized him as one of the major shapers of consciousness antillanista and placed him as an ideological link between two such important figures of the Venezuelan independence as Simon Rodriguez and the Cuban José Martí.
His presence in international political spheres came to collect such importance that self Emilio Castelar was forced to move threads that prevented powerful continue publishing in Le XIXe . Siecle , Paris , emancipating all information regularly sent as ” Courrier des Antilles ” . However , Ramón Emeterio Betances played a brilliant role in Cuba’s first war of independence , after which took a breather in its intense political activity to re- engage in scientific research.
Thus, in 1872 published in France a treatise on the origins of tetanus, work which was followed by other writings of the same scientific and technical nature, such as a report on urethrotomy (1887 ) , a book on cholera ( Cholera . History , was mediated prophylactic , Symptoms and Treatment , 1890 ) and a series of articles on public health that were published in the Madrid newspaper El Pais. Although he had almost abandoned writing fiction , yet in those years gave the Les voyages Scaldado printing a story interspersed with social complaints.
He was sixty -five years old when the Cuban and Puerto Rican independence movement led by José Martí and the Cuban Revolutionary Party took him out of his slumber to return with new vigor to the West Indian public arena . Again took pen to fill newspapers and magazines (mainly Cubaine La République , Paris ) for his liberal and emancipatory , always serving a Republican , Independence , and antianexionista ideology antillanista prose.
Betances died at 10:00 a.m., local time, in Neuilly-sur-Seine on Friday, September 16, 1898. His remains were cremated soon after and entombed at the Père Lachaise Cemetery of Paris on Monday, September 19. He had requested that no formal ceremony be made for his funeral. His common law-wife Simplicia survived him for over twenty years. A look at his willimplies that, besides a life insurance policy payout and two parcels of land in the Dominican Republic, Betances died almost inpoverty.
As early as in February 1913, poet and lawyer Luis Lloréns Torres had publicly requested that Betances’ wishes to have his ashes returned to Puerto Rico be fulfilled. The Nationalist Association (predecessor of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party), under the presidency of José Coll y Cuchí, was able to convince the Puerto Rican Legislative Assembly to approve an act that would allow the transfer of the mortal remains of Puerto Rican patriot Ramón Emeterio Betances from Paris, France to Puerto Rico. Seven years after the act’s approval, the Legislative Assembly commissioned one of its delegates, Alfonso Lastra Charriez, to serve as an emissary and bring Betances’ remains from France.
(Sources: Wikipedia & BiografiasYVidas)