Lares, Puerto Rico

The municipality of Lares is also known as the «the Town of The Grito,» «Capital of the Mountains» and the «Altar of the Fatherland.» This municipality covers 159.4 square kilometers (61.5 square miles). It is divided into the sectors of Bartolo, Buenos Aires, Callejones, Espino, Lares, La Torre, Mirasol, Pezuela, Piletas and Río Prieto. According to the 2000 Census, it had 34,415 residents, who are known as lareños.

Lares is known for growing coffee. Today, other agricultural products are also grown, including oranges, bananas and (hydroponic) tomatoes, as well as fruits such as plantains, and root vegetables such as yautiaand ñame. Its economy is also based on manufacturing of leather products, clothing and shoes. Raising livestock is a secondary activity.

The municipality also has manganese deposits which are inactive today because of intense exploitation in the past. According to historian Mario Villar Roces, important deposits of copper have also been found in the earth of Lares.


Lares is located in the west central region of the island. It is bordered to the north by the town of Camuy, on the south by Yauco and Maricao, on the west by San Sebastián and Las Marías and on the east by Hatillo, Adjuntas and Utuado.

Geographically, the municipality is part of the zone known as the central mountainous interior. Its highest elevations are found in the south, as the central mountain range extends through this area. Lares has an average temperature of 75 degrees F and annual precipitation of 97 inches.

The highest elevations are the Santo Domingo peak in the Bartolo sector which rises to 700 meters (2,296 feet) above sea level; the Malo peak in the Río Prieto sector, at 640 meters (2,100 feet); La Torre peak in the Mirasol sector, at 579 meters (1,899 feet) and La Mina peak, at 671 meters (2,200 feet). Between the Río Prieto sector of Lares and the Indiera Alta sector of Maricao rises Las Mulas peak, at 500 meters (1,640 feet) and in La Torre sector La Torrecilla peak rises to 430 meters (1,411 feet) above sea level.

Four important rivers form in this municipality: the Blanco River, the Culebrinas River, the Camuy River and the Guajataca River. The Blanco River is also known as the Grande de Añasco or the Guasio and empties into the Mona Channel. Among its tributaries in Lares are the Achiote and Grande streams, which empty into the Guayo River. The Guayo and Prieto lakes are found in the watershed of this river. The lake or reservoir called Guayo is formed by the course of the river of the same name, on the border of the Bartolo sector of Lares and the Indiera Alta sector of Maricao. The lake is used to produce electricity, for irrigation, and for fishing.

The Culebrinas River forms in the Espino sector and empties into the sea in the municipality of Aguada, after having run 44 kilometers or 28 miles. Among its tributaries in Lares are the Juncal River and the Infierno creek. The Camuy River, which forms in the Lares sector and empties into the Atlantic Ocean in Camuy, is 35 kilometers or 22 miles in length. The municipality is also irrigated by tributaries of the Piedras and Angeles rivers.

The Guajataca River forms in the Buenos Aires sector and empties into the Atlantic on the border between Aguadilla and Isabela. Its approximate length is 40 kilometers or 25 miles. The tributaries of the Guajataca River that pass through Lares are Anón and Los Muertos streams.

The original name of the municipality was San José de Lares. The name of the town comes from a Basque settler named Amador Lariz who arrived in Puerto Rico in 1512 and established a ranch with wild cattle in the region. He hunted animals and sold the pelts. His ranch, known as the Hato de Lariz, became part of the town of San Sebastián del Pepino in 1752.

Because of the long distance that separated the Hato de Lariz from the town of San Sebastián, the residents of Hato de Lariz asked to be separated and created as independent town in the early 17th century. They claimed that because of the distance, they could not attend mass and therefore the physical, moral and spiritual progress of the community was affected.

In 1824, the mayor of Utuado sent a document to Governor Miguel de la Torre in which he stated that the residents of Lariz lacked a justice system because of the distance to San Sebastián del Pepino and the difficult roads. He also testified to the favorable circumstances of the territory and said that 273 people lived there. Based on the document, Juan Francisco de Sotomayor and Pedro Vélez y Borrero were charged with carrying out the necessary steps to found the town that is known today as Lares.

In the beginning, the residents considered building a town on a flat area on the one hundred cuerdas donated by Martín Medina, but later they decided to build it on fifteen cuerdas donated by the late Juan Antonio de Toledo. The decision was based on the availability of needed materials and water at this higher site.

Governor Miguel de la Torre approved the petition to found the town and separated Lares from San Sebastián del Pepino on April 26, 1827. Founding the town had to wait for two years, as in that era it was a requirement that a contribution be paid to the church.

The first mayor of Lares was Juan Francisco de Sotomayor. Although the town was founded in 1827, the oldest parish records date to 1838. In 1853, Lares consisted of the sectors of Lares Pueblo, Lares (sector), Cibao, Bartolo, Buenos Aires, La Torre, Mirasol, Pileta, Río Prieto and Espino.

The separatist movement began on the island in 1868 during the Spanish Revolution, which resulted in the dethronement of Isabel II. The revolution raised the hopes of separatists on the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico. The insurrection, led by Ramón Emeterio Betances and known as «El Grito de Lares,» was aimed at proclaiming independence for Puerto Rico.

On September 14, 1868, the local leadership in Lares held a religious service to ask God to help them during the insurrection, which was to occur a few days later. According to some historians, however, the revolt took place several days earlier than planned because the plans were discovered, and on September 23, 1868, Manuel Rojas led 185 rural men into the fight.

Although the first group that entered the town was turned back by the militia, they persisted and marched toward the main plaza. Shortly thereafter, a troop of Spanish veterans arrived from Moca and the separatists were defeated.

The revolt lasted just ten hours and resulted in four men killed, four injured, and six or seven taken prisoner. The Spanish authorities began an immediate persecution of the insurrectionists and their sympathizers. It was decided that of the more than 500 people arrested, only those who were armed when captured or who had participated in the attack would be tried. A total of seven insurgents were sent to Cádiz. Depositions were taken from the rest of the prisoners and they were left in jail. They later were given amnesty, because of the revolution that took place the same year in Spain, and were freed.

Thirty years later, in 1898, the United States Army occupied Lares during the Spanish-American War. It was first occupied by troops under the command of General Henry, although he later withdrew his troops to Utuado. Spanish forces were sent from Arecibo to retain Lares.

Over the years, Lares became a coffee-growing center and its population grew rapidly. It became one of the most populous towns in Puerto Rico and in 1899 it had 20,883 residents. That same year, San Ciriaco Hurricane hit the island on August 8 affected crops and populations.

In 1946, the Puerto Rico Planning Board expanded the urban zone of Lares to includes Lares sector. This was the last change in the territorial organization of the municipality.

According to Villar Roces, there are many Basque surnames in the municipality, such as Segarra, Echemendía, Irrizary, Galaosa and De la Jara, which correspond to the founding families.


The design  of the flag was presented at a meeting of the Bravo Center group in late May and early June of 1868 by Manuel Rojas. It had been created by Ramón Emeterio Betances to be used as a symbol of the revolt and as the flag of Puerto Rico after the island gained independence.

The flag consists of a white Latin cross in the center with four rectangles, located above and below the arms of the cross. The white cross represents the yearning of the fatherland and redemption. The upper parts are light blue in color and the lower parts are a brilliant red. The red symbolizes the blood spilled by the heroes of the rebellion and the blue represents solidarity. It also has a white, five-point star located in the center of the upper left rectangle. This represents freedom. In 1952, the Municipal Assembly and the mayor proclaimed the flag the official representation of the municipality of Lares.

Coat of Arms
The coat of arms  was adopted in 1952. In the center is the flag of Lares. The chain that surrounds its represents the name of Lares and perpetuates the surname of the settlers. It also underlines the objective of the Lares insurrection, which was to free Puerto Rico from the chains of colonialism. The coat of arms, placed in a semi-circle with the words «Lares, Ciudad del Grito» below, constitutes the seal of Lares.

Place of Interest

  • La Pajita Cave – Located in the Callejones sector
  • 23rd of September Cultural Center
  • La Lealtad Estate
  • El Porvenir Estate
  • Margarita Estate
  • Manuel Rojas Estate
  • Lares ice cream shop
  • Marianna Bracetti Museum
  • El Jíbaro Park
  • Castañer settlement and the Casa Grande de Castañer
  • Revolution Plaza
  • José Feliciano Plaza
  • The Torres big house

Illustrious Citizens

Gonzalo Arocho del Toro- Journalist and playwright. He is best known in Puerto Rican letters for his play El desmonte of 1940.

Antonio Coll Vidal –Poet, author of theatrical works and novelist. In 1957, the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature awarded him the prize for journalism.

Clemente Soto Vélez –Poet, essayist and journalist. Along with Graciany Miranda Archilla, he was founder of the poetry movement called «The Hospital of the Sensitive,» later renamed Atalayismo(1928). He was a supporter of independence for Puerto Rico and a militant nationalist.

Obdulio Bauzá –Poet, Supreme Court judge and representative in the House of Representatives. He collaborated with the Nationalist Party in writing the party’s program and a constitution for the Republic of Puerto Rico. He held the following posts in the justice department: prosecutor in Guayama, Mayaguez and San Juan, assistant prosecutor general for Puerto Rico, and supreme court judge. He is the author of various books of poetry. Among his most outstanding poems are: A mi tierra, El río sin retorno, En la noche and En la hacienda Estío.

Luis Hernández Aquino -Poet, novelist, essayist and linguist. He began in journalism in San Juan, contributing to El País; he later wrote for El Mundo and numerous other publications, including the magazines El Día Estético, which was founded in 1941 and later called ínsula, and Bayoán, which was founded in 1950; he edited the magazine Revista Colegial in Mayagüez. Among his works are the Diccionario de voces indígenas de Puerto Rico and the novel La muerte anduvo por el Guasio.

Samuel Lugo –Poet and short story writer. He was a member of the Atalayismo poetry movement and collaborated on El Día Estético e Insula. Author of the books of poetry Donde caen las claridades, Yumbra and Ronda de la llama verde.

Francisco Matos Paoli –Poet. Matos Paoli identified with the cause of independence for Puerto Rico and was linked to the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party in the 1930s. In 1949, he was named secretary general of the Nationalist Party and when the nationalist revolution erupted in 1950 he was fired from his post at the university and sentenced to twenty years in prison. In 1955, he was given an unconditional pardon and was named permanent writer in residence at the University of Puerto Rico in recognition of his great merit as a poet. Among his most outstanding works is Canto de la locura.

Guillermo Bauzá – Playwright, poet and novelist. Founder of the student publications El kuko and Ser; contributor to La Torre and El Imparcial. Author of several books of poetry and dramas.

Justo A. Méndez – Senator. Founding member of the New Progressive Party. He later switched to the Popular Democratic Party and was a member of the ad hoc committee to study federal relations. In 1986, he was designated Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, a position he held until 1988.

Antonio Oliver Frau – (1902-1945) Poet and short story writer. He graduated with a law degree from the University of Puerto Rico in 1926. His works include Cuentos y leyendas del cafetal.


  • San José Patron Saint Festival – March
  • Lares Festival – September
  • Rábano Estate Festival – October
  • Almojábana Festival – October
  • Banana Festival – June


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