Rafael Cancel-Miranda, an icon of the struggle of the Puerto Rican people for their independence, died at the age of 89 at his residence in Rio Piedras, San Juan on Monday.
Born in Mayaguez on July 18, 1930, he was one of the main leaders of the Puerto Rican independence movement and the Nationalist Party, which he joined at his 15 years of age, beginning as a cadet of the republic.
On March 1, 1954, Rafael Cancel-Miranda, Lolita Lebron, Andres Figueroa, and Irvin Flores Rodriguez entered the U.S. Capitol building armed with automatic pistols to protest the colonial rule over Puerto Rico.
On that day, “after shouting ‘Viva Puerto Rico libre!’ and deploying a Puerto Rican flag, they fired in the air or at some congressmen, in one of the boldest acts in the history of Puerto Rican pro-independence movement,” local outlet El Nuevo Dia recalled.
As a result of this rebel action, he was imprisoned in the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary for 25 years, a period in which his symbolic importance for the Puerto Rican pro-independence movement acquired historical nuances.
In 1979, United States President Jimmy Carter pardoned Cancel Miranda, Lebron, and Flores Rodriguez.
During his life, Cancel-Miranda stood out as a writer publishing nine books and dozens of political analysis articles in international and local newspapers and magazines.