Ramón Emeterio Betances

Ramón Emeterio Betances bigraphy, stories - politician, medical doctor, diplomat

Ramón Emeterio Betances : biography

April 8, 1827 – September 16, 1898

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 "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 a diplomat, public health administrator, poet and novelist. He served as representative and contact for Cuba and the Dominican Republic in Paris.

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.


Tomb of Dr. Betances next to [[San Miguel Arcángel Church, 2007]] 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 will implies that, besides a life insurance policy payout and two parcels of land in the Dominican Republic, Betances died almost in poverty..com Betances had earlier reported that a medically mandated stay at the French resort town of Arcachon—on which he was strictly forbidden to do any work—had depleted him of most of his savings.

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., available at

Betances’ remains arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico on August 5, 1920, and were honored upon arrival by a crowd then estimated at 20,000 mourners. The large crowd, which had assembled near the port of San Juan as early as 4:00 a.m. (AST) that morning, was the largest ever assembled for a funeral in Puerto Rico since the death of Luis Muñoz Rivera three years earlier. Media reporters of the day were surprised by the size of the crowd, given the fact that Betances had not visited Puerto Rico (at least in the open) for the 31 years before his death, and had been dead over 21 years afterwards.Ojeda Reyes, Félix, El Desterrado de París, pp. 481–498. In fact, the hardcover’s paper jacket features scenes of the funeral at Cabo Rojo. A photograph of Simplicia Jiménez, as well as many photographs of the various funeral events through Puerto Rico, are shown in this chapter of the book.

A funeral caravan organized by the Nationalist Party transferred the remains from the capital to the town of Cabo Rojo. It took the caravan two days to make the route. Once Betances’ remains reached the city of Mayagüez, 8,000 mourners paid their respects. Betances’ remains were laid to rest in Cabo Rojo’s municipal cemetery. A few decades later his remains were moved to a monument designed to honor Betances in the town’s plaza. There is a bust created by the Italian sculptor Diego Montano alongside the Grito de Lares revolutionary flag and the Puerto Rican flag in the plaza, which is also named after Betances.