Eugenio María de Hostos
sociologist, philosopher, esayist, and novelist. He was born in the
municipality of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, on January 11, 1839.
He did his first
studies in Mayagüez and later went to Spain (Bilbao) for his
secondary education. Following his father’s desires, he went to
Madrid to study law, but his constant activism in support of the
political rights for Puerto Rico and the Spanish republican movement
prevented him from pursuing his law degree. In Spain, he associated
with liberal, anti-monarchic political groups.
From Spain he went
to New York, where he spent almost a year and fought alongside the
Cubans in their struggle for independence. Later, he undertook a
journey throughout South America for more than three years to plead
for the Cuban cause. Wherever he went, he was regarded as a man of
integrity, devoted to the service of humanity.
In Perú, he
denounced the exploitation of the numerous Chinese laborers who had
immigrated to that country.
In Chile, he
advocated for the right of women to obtain a scientific education.
He was a member of the Academy of Letters of Santiago de Chile and
published various writings, among them: a historical report on
Puerto Rico; an essay on Hamlet, by English playwright
William Shakespeare (considered one of the best on this work in
Spanish); and a critical biography of Plácido, the Cuban poet.
In Argentina, he
campaigned for the construction of the first railway route across
the Andes, and the first train that crossed that mountain range bore
the name Eugenio María de Hostos.
He established his
residence in Santo Domingo in 1879. There he founded the first
teachers school in 1880. During the following nine years, he
undertook an intense program of educational reforms in that country.
After the United States invasion of Puerto Rico in 1898, he
returned to the island. He wanted to stir the spirit of his
compatriots so that they could demand their rights; he founded the
League of Puerto Rican Patriots and headed the first commission that
went to Washington to seek recognition for the rights of Puerto
Rico. Nevertheless, all these efforts failed in the face of the
firm decision by the North American government to retain the island
as a colony and the lack of support from his compatriots.
It could be said
that although Hostos published treatises, essays, two novels and
numerous journalistic articles that were successful, his best work
was his extraordinary life, clean, just, humanitarian and patriotic,
that has placed him high among the great men of Latin America. Eugenio
María de Hostos died in 1903 in Santo Domingo, where he is buried.
Biographical Data of Eugenio María de Hostos
Institute of Hostosian Studies –
University of Puerto Rico
Adapted and translated for use
in this website