Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Poster of the Week

CSPG’s poster of the week commemorates Lolita Lebrón who died August 1, 2010 at age 90.

Lolita Lebrón ¡Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre!
Linda Lucero
La Raza Silkscreen Center
Silkscreen, 1977
San Francisco, California

Todos Somos Pequeños, Solo La Patría Es Grande Y Está Encarcelada
¡Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre!

All of us are all small, Only the Mother country is great and it is imprisoned!
Long Live Free Puerto Rico!

Lolita Lebrón (Dolores "Lolita" Lebrón Sotomayor) was an active and passionate advocate for Puerto Rican independence. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she joined the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party after moving to New York City in 1941. Within the organization she promoted ideals based on socialist and feminist principles.

In 1954, Lebrón and three other Puerto Rican nationalists entered the visitors’ gallery of the U.S. House of Representatives, unfurled Puerto Rico’s flag, shouted “Free Puerto Rico!” and shot pistols wounding five congressmen. She proclaimed that, "I did not come here to kill. I came here to die," and carried a note in her purse that explained their action:

Before God and the world, my blood claims for the independence of Puerto Rico. My life I give for the freedom of my country. This is a cry for victory in our struggle for independence which for more than half a century has tried to conquer the land that belongs to Puerto Rico.

I state forever that the United States of America are betraying the sacred principles of mankind in their continuous subjugation of my country, violating their rights to be a free nation and a free people, in their barbarous torture of our apostle of independence, Don Pedro Albizu Campos.

The four were sentenced to life in prison, and spent 25 years before being pardoned by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. After her release, Lebrón returned to Puerto Rico and became president of the Nationalist Party. She remained active the rest of her life.

In 2001, at age 81, Lebrón was arrested for protesting the bombing of the island of Vieques by the U.S. Navy. Puerto Rico, one of the last remaining colonies in the world, endured almost 60 years of U.S. aerial target practice and war games, including dropping napalm and depleted uranium shells on Vieques. The cancer rate in Vieques is 26% higher than the Puerto Rican average. The U.S. navy stopped bombing Vieques in 2003.

About the Artist:

During a trip to Cuba in 1974, Linda Lucero met many Puerto Ricans from New York, and was profoundly moved by their efforts for self-determination. Lucero also felt that there were many posters of heroic men, but not enough about heroic women. Upon returning to La Raza Graphics Center in San Francisco, Lucero produced a poster featuring Lolita Lebrón. Lucero produced a second poster featuring Lebrón in 1977, and it was reissued a year later. This is the poster featured here.

At a time when growing numbers of U.S. activists identified with and supported many liberation movements, Lebrón epitomized national liberation struggles, women’s struggles, and the struggles of a Spanish-speaking people under U.S. domination. Lucero’s posters were part of a growing movement within the United States and in Puerto Rico which demanded the Puerto Rican nationalists' freedom.

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