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Celebrate This Cool Jefa: Luisa Capetillo The Boricua Activist Arrested For Wearing Pants

Born on October 28, 1879, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Luisa Capetillo is best known for her contributions to the labor and anarchist movements in Puerto Rico at the time. She’s also famously remembered as the first Puerto Rican woman to ever have worn pants in public. 

However, her commitment to break the glass ceiling and break traditional societal norms imposed on women extended beyond her fashion choices. Capetillo was a diligent organizer and passionate activist who advocated for women’s rights. She was an all-around badass. 

In a children’s e-book on Rejected Princesses, you can learn more about Luisa Capetillo’s life, one learns about her beginnings and when she first started to become an activist. 

In 1951, Luisa Capetillo became the first Puerto Rican woman to ever wear pants in public in 1951. 

Due to this, it’s been said that she was stopped and arrested for “causing a scandal.” News outlets back then reported that Capetillo defended herself ardently against the claims that she was causing a scandal for wearing pants. 

She has been quoted as saying, “Your Honor, I always wear pants,” and then slightly lifted her dress to show a pair of loose white pants. “And on the night in question, instead of wearing them underneath, I wore them just like men do, based on my perfect civil right to do so, on the outside.” Tell em, Capetillo.  

Luisa Capetillo was homeschooled by her parents.

Her mother, Luisa Margarita Perone, was a French immigrant who worked in domestic work and her father, Luis Capetillo Echevarría, who was from Spain, worked in labor. Her parents never married but they formed a partnership strong enough to raise a young fiery and passionate woman. 

Capetillo’s parents were also drawn together by their similar “beliefs in democratic ideals expressed in the attempted European revolutions of 1848.” They devoted their time to homeschooling her through a liberal education that was infused with ideological influences of both the French Revolution and the workers’ rights movement in Northern Spain. 

Her homeschool education heavily influenced the work she would be later known for. 

After a romance that didn’t end well, and that resulted in two children, she began working as a reader at a tobacco company after the Spanish-American war in Puerto Rico. Readers were needed at companies because, at the time, most of the workforce was illiterature and poorly-educated. As a result, unions hired readers to read newspapers and books out loud during work hours. 

The tobacco factory was also where Capetillo first came into contact with labor unions. What she learned through unions, she used to educate many women across Puerto Rico. 

Her work at the tobacco company also inspired her to write opinion essays and in her writing, she criticized the labor conditions tobacco workers were exposed to.

In an essay titled, “Mi opinión,” Capetillo writes: “Oh you woman! who is capable and willing to spread the seed of justice; do not hesitate, do not fret, do not run away, go forward! And for the benefit of the future generations place the first stone for the building of social equality in a serene but firm way, with all the right that belongs to you, without looking down, since you are no longer the ancient material or intellectual slave.” 

Further, working at the tobacco company led her to organize strikes. It also led her to become an anarchist and inspired material for the four books that she would write. 

Luisa Capetillo was a feminist way ahead of her time and advocated heavily for women’s rights.

Especially when it had to do with female agency. For 1910, she definitely way ahead of the curve. 

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???? Mes de la mujer: Luisa Capetillo Born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico in 1879, Luisa was homeschooled by her parents and later became one of the island’s most important women’s rights activists of her time. She worked as a reader in a cigar making factory and that provided her with her first experiences with labor unions. In 1904, she wrote Mi Opinión (My Opinion), which encouraged women to fight for equal rights. Capetillo’s writing often discusses identity and seeks to motivate women. In her essay ¿Anarquista y espiritista? (Anarchist and Spiritis?) she discusses how she considered herself to be both. • Luis is best known for her involvement in the 1905 farm workers’ strike. She became the leader of the American Federation of Labor and began urging women to fight for their rights. In 1908, she asked the union to approve a women’s suffrage policy. Four years later, she traveled to NYC and Florida to organize Cuban and Puerto Rican tobacco workers; she joined various labor strikes in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Capetillo was also the first woman in Puerto Rico to wear pants in public. In 1910, it was illegal for women to wear pants in public and she was jailed (the charges were eventually dropped). Later that year, she helped pass a minimum wage law in Puerto Rico. Luisa Capetillo passed away in October 1922. • Capetillo’s legacy includes Casa Protegida Luisa Capetillo: a non-profit organization whose purpose is to defend mistreated women, the Luisa Capetillo Center of Documentation at UPR Cayey: a part of the university’s Women’s Studies project, and a plaque in La Plaza en Honor a la Mujer Puertorriqueña. ⚡️ Luisa Capetillo was submitted as a mujer pode???? by one of program organizers/coordinators in Puerto Rico! ⚡️ Stay posted for tomorrow’s mujer pode???? from another one of our team members! ????: Libcom.org • • • • • • • • • • • #puertorico #womenshistorymonth #womenshistory #luisacapetillo #arecibo #history #mujer #mujerpoderosa #studyabroad #westernillinois #westernillinoisuniversity #wiu #wiu18 #wiu19 #wiu20 #wiu21 #wiu22 #wiu23 #puertoricanhistory

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The social labor organizer became well known for her advocacy for equal rights for women, free love, and human emancipation. She developed a lot of her ideals of anarchism and romanticism from being an avid reader as a child. She read a lot of French literature from writers including Victor Hugo and Emile Zola. She also read a lot of Russian Romantics like Leo Tolstoy. 

She died of tuberculosis in 1922 but her legacy and impact as one of Puerto Rico’s first women suffragists live on. 

In 1912, she traveled to New York City where she organized workers in the tobacco factories there. From 1916-1918, she was involved in an intense period of strikes and she would constantly travel from New York City and Puerto Rico. 

She even traveled to Cuba to work with the Federation of Anarchists of Cuba. A couple of years after she contracted tuberculosis and died at 42. 

Well-Known Chilean Indigenous Leader Alberto Curamil Has Been Acquitted

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Well-Known Chilean Indigenous Leader Alberto Curamil Has Been Acquitted

mapuche_international_l / Instagram

After worldwide protest, Indigenous leader Alberto Curamil has been acquitted of charges related to his actions to stop the construction of a dam on a sacred river. Curamil, along with his co-defendant Álvaro Millalén, would have faced 50 years in prison for “raiding a compensation fund,” “gun theft,” and “illegal possession of weapons.” If it weren’t for the four international environmental and legal nonprofit groups who advocated for Curamil and Millalén, it’s likely that the case wouldn’t have received international pressure from the public. The judges assigned to the case unanimously decided to acquit both of all charges last Friday, but that’s not often the case.

The criminalization of environmental defenders, who are often Indigenous leaders, is on the rise in Latin America.

Alberto Curamil’s efforts have earned him this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize, often considered the “Green Nobel Peace Prize.”

CREDIT: @JAIMECUYANAO / TWITTER

Alberto Curamil is an indigenous Mapuche and Lonko (traditional leader) to his people. The Mapuche are the largest indigenous group in Chile, their name translating to “people of the land.” The Mapuche view the natural world around them, including rivers and forests, as kin to their brothers. The Mapuche have long been victimized and criminalized by the Chilean government. In the late 1800s, the Chilean army was tasked with invading their land to privatize and sell it to individual owners. The government forcibly stole the Mapuche land and would go on to privatize water in the entire country. 

In the last decade, Chile’s minister of energy announced a project that would include building 40 dams on the Mapuche’s rivers, two of which would be in the heart of their community. While the project would generate more energy for the country, it would irreparably harm the riparian ecosystems. Alberto Curamil, 45, has dedicated his life to protecting Mapuche rivers and preserving the Mapuche native language of Mapudungun. He formed a coalition with other community members, academics, environmental organizations and launched a massive public, media and legal campaign against the projects. For his work, he earned the 2019 Goldman Prize, also known as the “Green Nobel Peace Prize.” The government acknowledged his work with criminal charges that would effectively mean he’d die in prison.

Police accused Curamil of disorderly conduct and beat him while he was in custody.

CREDIT: @RAYBAE689 / TWITTER

According to the Goldman Prize organization, “police arrested Curamil and two other Mapuche leaders and accused them of disorderly conduct and causing public unrest for organizing protests. Police beat Curamil while in custody, badly bruising his face. Police also attacked his pregnant wife.” Still, his legal battle with the Chilean government proved fruitful. Two years after Curamil was arrested and beaten, his continued campaign yielded a victory: Chile’s Third Environmental Tribunal ruled that one of the two dams would be canceled because the government violated its own laws to consult with the Mapuche or environmental experts on its impacts.

Two years after the victory, police arrested Curamil once again in what many believe was a frame-job to take Curamil out of the picture while Chile approved another hydroelectric project on the same river.

CREDIT: @TWEETLIAM / TWITTER

Curamil was arrested in August 2018 after an “anonymous tip” connected Curamil, Álvaro Millalén, Alberto José Cáceres and Víctor Llanquileo Pilquimán with a $76 million peso robbery. Curamil has spent the last 15 months in Temuco prison awaiting trial. He wasn’t even able to attend his own awards ceremony to receive the Green Nobel Peace award. His daughter, Belén, 18, went to accept the award on behalf of her father, who she called a “political prisoner,” according to NBC News. Many believe the firearms “found” in his home were planted given that his DNA was not found on the weapons.

“I am very happy because we knew that both Alberto Curamil and Álvaro Millalén were innocent,” Curamil’s daughter, Belén, told press outside the courtroom that finally allowed Curamil to walk free, according to NBC News. “If they were imprisoned for so long, it is because they raised their voices and fought for our territory, for the freedom of our ‘mapu,’ the freedom of our rivers and the freedom of the Mapuche people.” Curamil’s advocacy for the environment as inadvertently spurred another advocacy in his daughter: to decriminalize environmental human rights defenders.

Belén has spent the last 15 months of her father’s imprisonment to speak out against the rising criminalization of indigenous leaders for defending their land. In September, she spoke in front of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the topic.

READ: Indigenous Leaders And Environmental Groups Have Concerns Over President AMLO’s Tourist Train In The Yucatán

Camilla Cabello Appears Alongside Latina Activists And Game Changers For Time Magazine’s Newly Launched ‘Time 100 Next’

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Camilla Cabello Appears Alongside Latina Activists And Game Changers For Time Magazine’s Newly Launched ‘Time 100 Next’

camila_cabello / Instagram

Time Magazine launched the first edition of its TIME 100 Next list. The new list, which is meant to expand upon Time’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, which was first published in 1999, is meant to honor the rising stars of industries such as activism, art, and health.  

Not surprisingly, many of the honorees are Latinos!

Camila Cabello Time’s Big Artist 

Grammy-winning recording artist Alejandro Sanz writes about Cuban artist and upcoming actress Camila Cabello in the TIME magazine profile writing that she “is a pure and magnetic artist. We met a few years ago at the Latin Grammys, and shortly afterward, she told me that she wanted to sing together. In all my years in this industry, Camila was the first artist I’ve ever told that she could pick whatever song she wanted to sing.”

In his piece about Cabello, Sanz reiterates Cabello’s career writing that following her success with Fifth Harmony she began recording as a solo artist and worked to bring the roots of Latin music to a  broader audience. “In times like these, when noise can distort the purity of an artist’s message, Camila has managed to honor her story and her background in an authentic way with her pop music. The impact of her songs—from ‘Havana’ and ‘Señorita’ to ‘Shameless’ and ‘Liar’—has opened the door so that the world can see and hear the massive potential of the Latin music community.”

Vanessa Luna The Big Time Leader 

Writer Jasmine Aguilera explained that Vanessa Luna was working as an educator in Los Angeles in 2014 when one of her student’s parents had been deported. The incident gave Luna “an up-close view of how immigration policy can impact a child’s education. Three years later, the educator and DACA recipient co-founded ImmSchools, a nonprofit that trains teachers to better support America’s millions of children with undocumented family members by creating more inclusive classroom environments. In ImmSchools’ first 12 months, 960 students and their families participated in its programs—which include know-your-rights workshops and college-admissions guidance—and Luna, who was named a 2019 Roddenberry Fellow, says the nonprofit will reach more than 1,000 educators this fiscal year. “It shouldn’t be luck that an undocumented student gets what they need in school.”

Jess Morales Rocketto The Innovator 

@latinbowl/ Twitter 

Former Senator and Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton writes in her Times piece that “you couldn’t miss Jess Morales Rocketto during my 2016 campaign: she was the young woman standing on top of a cabinet, leading hundreds of staff and volunteers in a rousing chant. After the election, she used her passion, digital savvy and activist experience to facilitate the protests that cropped up at airports across America. She joined the National Domestic Workers Alliance, tackling issues from economic justice to immigration reform. Faced with the crisis at the border, Jess helped lead efforts to reunite every child with their loved ones. And after witnessing the power of women’s activism, she helped launch Supermajority, an organization dedicated to gender equity. She is not only tireless—she is fearless.”

Silvia Caballero the Innovator 

Senior Time’s writer Jeffrey Kluger describes Caballero, microbiologist and immunologist, as a researcher determined to save lives. According to Kluger, Caballero graduated from Weill Cornell Medical College in 2009 eventually began to work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center where she developed a lab mouse with a gut that replicates the human systems infected by drug-resistant bugs. “She then turned the bodies of the mice against the invaders, discovering natural bacteria within the gut that could beat back the infection,” writes Kluger. “Now working for Vedanta Biosciences in Massachusetts, she heads the company’s multidrug-resistant organism decolonization program, whose goal is to do for people what Caballero did for the mice. Her treatment protocol could go into early trials in two years.”

Alexandra Rojas The Advocate 

Time / Twitter 

Writing about Alexandra Rojas, the executive director for Justice Democrats, TIME’s correspondent Charlotte Alter writes that “Rojas and her team recruit and train primary challengers—often young, working-class people of color—to unseat less progressive incumbents. In 2018, they helped elect what’s now known as the Squad: Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. Now Rojas is working to turn that momentum into more electoral power by building a bench of young progressives in Congress. So far, her group has endorsed eight new candidates running for congressional seats in 2020, including 26-year-old immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros, who has already raised more than seven times Ocasio-Cortez’s 2017 total. “

Paula Jofré A Chilean Innovator  

As Kluger describes in a separate profile about Jofré,  the Chilean researcher believes humans have a lot in common with the stars. “The sun and other stars are a lot like people: they’re born, they age, and they die. Oh, and they have relatives,” writes Kluger. “Jofré, of Diego Portales University in Chile, had along with anthropologist Robert Foley of the University of Cambridge when the two began musing that stars birthed in particular parts of the universe could be elementally related because they condense out of the same interstellar clouds. Since then, they have studied the chemical spectra of the sun and 21 other local stars, and indeed found the equivalent of genetic connections and even a family tree. With trillions more stars across the universe, there are a lot more ancestral connections to be made.”