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Eugenio María de Hostos

 

Patriot, educator, 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          

 

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