José de Diego's Birthday in Puerto Rico Date in the current year: April 15, 2024

José de Diego's Birthday in Puerto Rico José de Diego’s birthday (Natalicio de José de Diego) is an official memorial day in Puerto Rico, dedicated to a renowned Puerto Rican poet and political leader. José de Diego was born on April 16, but his birthday is usually celebrated on the third Monday of April.

José de Diego y Martínez was a Puerto Rican journalist, lawyer, poet and statesmen, who advocated for his homeland’s independence from Spain and later from the United States. He is often referred to as “The Father of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement”.

De Diego was born on April 16, 1866 to a Spanish officer and a Puerto Rican native. After finishing elementary school in Puerto Rico, he moved to Spain, where he finished his secondary education and entered the University of Barcelona to study law.

While in Barcelona, de Diego began writing for El Progreso, a newspaper founded by fellow Puerto Rican journalist José Julián Acosta. Acosta was an avid abolitionist, and he used the newspaper to criticize the political situation in Puerto Rico. Because of his political articles, de Diego was arrested several times and eventually had to return to Puerto Rico. However, in the end he did obtain his law degree.

De Diego began to practice law in Arecibo and founded the newspaper La República, which he used as a platform to advocate for Puerto Rico’s autonomy, which Puerto Rico lost after the restoration of the Spanish monarchy and the adoption of the Spanish Constitution of 1876. According to the constitution, Spain became a centralized state, and many of its formerly autonomous regions lost their right for self-government, Puerto Rico being one of them.

In 1887, de Diego and Román Baldorioty de Castro founded the Autonomist Party. Its members eventually convinced Práxedes Mateo Sagasta, the Spanish governor of Puerto Rico, to support the idea of the island’s autonomy within the Kingdom of Spain. However, de Diego wasn’t among them; as a republican, he believed that Spain should become a federal republic. Ideally, he envisioned the establishment of the Antillean Confederation consisting of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

In 1887, Puerto Rico was granted autonomy by the Spanish parliament. Sagasta was elected as prime minister, and de Diego was given a position in the Department of Justice and Government to acknowledge his accomplishments and contributions. However, the autonomy of Puerto Rico was short-lived, since the island was invaded by the United States a mere year later.

Initially, de Diego supported the American occupation, but soon he realized that Puerto Ricans would never have the same rights as American citizens in the mainland. In 1890, he was named a member of the Executive Cabinet formed by the United States. However, de Diego resigned from the position in order to advocate for Puerto Rico’s right for self-government. In 1904, he became one of the founders of the Unionist Party, which was the island’s dominant political party for about two decades. De Diego left the party in 1917 because of disagreements with the majority of other members.

In addition to his political activity, de Diego was known as a poet (he is even referred to as “The Father of the Modern Puerto Rican Poetry Movement”) and the founder of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. He died in New York City in 1918 and was buried in San Juan. José de Diego’s birthday was declared as an official memorial day in Puerto Rico.

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José de Diego's birthday in Puerto Rico, holidays in Puerto Rico, remembrance day, birth anniversary