Lola Rodriquez de Tio

Lola Rodriquez de Tio

(1843-1924)

Lola Rodriquez de Tio was born and edu¬ cated in Puerto Rico. Her strong political beliefs, as well as her lifelong love affair with her native land, inspired her to write several highly acclaimed books of poetry. Through her writing and her political activities, Rodriquez de Tio became an influential player in the Puerto Rican and Cuban independence movements, even while she spent much of her adult life in exile.

Born in San German, Lola Rodriquez stud¬ ied in Catholic schools and with private tutors. She was drawn to poetry as a young girl, and she studied with the renowned poet Ursula Cardona de Quinones. In 1865, Rodriquez married journalist and political activist Bonocio Tio and changed her name to Rodriquez de Tio.

The newlyweds shared a passion for wanting Puerto Rican independence. The island was then a part of the Spanish colonial empire. Together, they conducted political meetings for members of the literary community at their home in the city of Mayagiiez, which helped to ignite an independence movement on the island.

In 1868, Rodriquez de Tio wrote the nationalist lyrics for the hymn “La Borinquena.” The song became the Puerto Rican national hymn. In 1876, she published Mis Cantares (My SongsJ, her first book of poetry. At the same time, her reputation as an agitator in the independence movement grew. In 1877, the government exiled her, and she and her family were forced to move to Venezuela.

The bond to her homeland was too great for Rodriquez de Tio to overcome, however, and she returned to Puerto Rico three years later. She continued her political activities and her writing there. In 1885, she published her sec¬ ond book of poetry, Claros y Nieblas (Clarities and Cloudiness). In 1889, she was exiled again. This time, she moved to Cuba.

Rodriquez de Tio remained in Cuba and continued her revolutionary activities. She published her third and final book of poetry, Mi Libro de Cuba {My Cuban Book), in 1893. Two years later, the Cuban government exiled her, and she moved to New York City.

She continued to conspire with leaders of the Puerto Rican and Cuban independence movements while she lived in New York. In 1899, Puerto Rico and Cuba were both liber¬ ated from Spanish colonial rule when the United States defeated Spain in the Spanish- American War.

Rodriquez de Tio returned to Cuba, where she received a hero’s welcome. She remained there and applied her political energy to a growing women’s liberation movement. In 1910, she was elected to the Cuban Academy of Arts and Letters. She died in 1924.