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Lares, Puerto Rico

Catholic church in Lares, Puerto Rico; this town built on a hill was the site of El Grito de Lares in 1868. My paternal grandparents were married in that same church.

I’ve been too busy building a new business to write a weekly blog. (More on the new business later.) But the equinox and the change of season make me pause and reflect on where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. Some things should always be remembered.

Today, 23rd of September, I fly back to 1868 and a call for freedom and independence that was deferred. It was deferred, but it was not forgotten.

I take my hat off to the people who still gather in Lares, Puerto Rico, to remember el Grito de Lares, a call for independence from Spain. An independence that never came. Nevertheless, that call and that dream has transformed our identity as Puerto Ricans and endured for the last 143 years.

See article in El Nuevo Dia: http://www.elnuevodia.com/elgritodelaresresisteelpasodeltiempo-1073996.html

Painting by Rafael Tufiño, see coffee etching via link below.

Puerto Rico’s coffee heydays date back to the 1870s, when the Pope drank Puerto Rican coffee in the Vatican. A couple of hurricanes and total neglect after the American invasion in 1898, put an end to a flourishing business in a mountainous island well suited for growing Arabic coffee in the shady hills, but not so well equipped to support large sugar plantations and other large-scale agriculture.

A new effort seeks to undo more than a century of neglect. The old Café Rico plant in Ponce, Puerto Rico has been rehabilitated with $15 million in private investment to create the largest coffee-processing plant in the Caribbean.

Puerto Rico Coffee Roasters said their new facilities will be capable of processing a maximum of 30,000 pounds (13,600 kilograms) of coffee a year. The company invested in machinery, equipment and renovations at its 120,000-sq. foot (11,000-sq. meter) plant in the southern coastal city of Ponce.

Puerto Rico Coffee Roasters produces brands including Yaucono Coffee, Cafe Rioja and Cafe Rico. The announcement comes as the U.S. Caribbean territory tries to boost its coffee production, which has fallen by half in recent years. (There remains a burgeoning organic and small-scale gourmet coffee industry.)

In addition to the facility upgrades, local government money will be used to build shelters for workers, and federal money will be used to subsidize agriculture.

As a descendant of proud coffee pickers who concocted their own homemade café puya in Lares, Puerto Rico, I have to wonder, does this mean the return of latifundios and arrimaos? I’m getting my coffee basket ready for the next trip, just in case. I’ll be like the woman in this Tufiño painting – Camino del Recogido, 1954, Rafael Tufiño: http://www.mapr.org/La-Coleccion/Por-Orden.aspx?tl=52

See the Forbes report: http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/05/18/business-cb-puerto-rico-coffee_8473195.html
Reportage en El Nuevo Dia: http://www.elnuevodia.com/creceunimperiocafetalero-969974.html
Video de El Nuevo Dia: http://www.elnuevodia.com/videos-negocios-creceunimperiocafetalero-949276246001.html