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Lolita Lebrón

(Puerto Rico)

The Estate of Lolita Lebrón

Dolores “Lolita” Lebrón Sotomayor (November 19, 1919, August 1, 2010)–a revolutionary advocate for Puerto Rican independence who served a quarter century in a US prison. Also a major poet of the Americas, she won the prestigious Jose Vasconcelos Prize in 2000 for "the unparalleled cosmic richness of her poetry and her profound love for her country". She was born and raised in Lares, Puerto Rico, where she joined the Liberal Party.  In 1941, Lolita migrated to New

York City, where she joined the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, gaining influence within the party’s leadership. Within the organization she promoted ideals based on socialist and feminist principles. In 1952, after Puerto Rico’s official status was changed to “Commonwealth”, the Nationalist Party began a series of revolutionary actions, including the Jayuya Uprising. As part of this initiative, she became the leader of a group of nationalists, who proceeded to attack the United States House of Representatives in 1954. Lolita remained imprisoned 25 years, when Jimmy Carter issued pardons to the group involved.

During the following years Lolita continued her involvement in pro-independence activities, including the Navy-Vieques protests for which she, in her eighties, was arrested once again. Lebrón, along with Al Sharpton and Robert Kennedy Jr., were temporarily jailed for crossing unauthorized into the navy-occupied land in Vieques. She spent twenty-six days in a jail cell that she shared with Congresswoman Norma Burgos. On May 1, 2003, Lebrón celebrated with the rest of the Viequeseños the departure of the U.S. Navy from the tiny island.Her life would be subsequently detailed in books and a documentary. A groundbreaking writer in social realist and mystical poetry, Lolita Lebron published three books of poetry, Grito Primoroso,  En el Origen de tu Flauta, and Sandalo en la Celda. A 300 page antholoy of her mystical poetry was published in 2000 (with an introduction by Arias del Canal) to great critical acclaim that placed her work along those of Gabriela Mistral, Delmira Agustini, Juana de Ibarbourou, and Alfonsina Stormi. Currently, her life and prison memoirs are being edited as well as five unpublished books of poetry.

Read more in the Lolita Lebrón Biography, The Ladies Gallery: A Memoir of Family Secrets


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