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Lolita Lebrón (1919 – 2010)

Updated: Jan 17

Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre! - Doña Lolita

“I had the honor of leading the act against the U.S. Congress on March 1, 1954, when we demanded freedom for Puerto Rico and we told the world that we are an invaded nation, occupied and abused by the United States of America.” - Lolita Lebrón

On March 1, 1954, Lolita and fellow comrades Rafael Cancel Miranda, Irving Flores and Andres Figueroa Cordero entered the U.S.Capitol while the House of Representatives was in session. When Lebrón's group reached the visitor's gallery above the chamber in the House, they sat while the representatives discussed Mexico's economy. Shortly thereafter, Lebrón gave the order to the other members, the group quickly recited the Lord's Prayer; then Lolita stood up and shouted "¡Viva Puerto Rico Libre!" as the group unfurled the Puerto Rican flag. Within seconds they opened fire on the U.S. Congress.

All four Nationalist including Lolita were immediately detained and arrested. Upon being arrested, Lolita yelled "I did not come to kill anyone, I came to die for Puerto Rico!" As a result of the attack five congressmen were wounded and the media quickly began a campaign vilifying the Puerto Rican Independence movement.

After her arrest the police found a note in Lolitas purse which read, “My life I give for the freedom of my country. This is a cry for victory in our struggle for independence. . . . The United States of America is betraying the sacred principles of mankind in their continuous subjugation of my country.”

On June 16, 1954, the jury found all four Nationalist guilty. On the morning of July 8, 1954, Lolita learned of her son's death minutes before the sentence was to be announced. She was quiet at the beginning of the hearing, but at one point, unable to contain herself, she became inconsolable. The judge chose to sentence them to the longest terms of imprisonment possible. Although Lolita fired eight shots, she was cleared of assault with intent to kill because she had fired at the ceiling. Lolita Lebrón was convicted of five counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and sentenced to serve from 16 years to 50 years in prison. Her comrades, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Andres Figueroa Cordero and Irving Flores Rodriguez, were convicted on more serious counts and each sentenced to 25 to 75 years in prison. All four were later sentenced to an additional six years in another trial for seditious conspiracy.

As a result of the civil rights movements of the 60's & 70's and a growing awareness of the issue of colonialism on the island of Puerto Rico a campaign to free the Nationalist as political prisoners began to grow. In 1979 President Jimmy Carter commuted the sentences of Lolita Lebrón, Irvin Flores, and Rafael Cancel Miranda after they had served 25 years in prison. Andrés Figueroa Cordero was released from prison earlier because of a terminal illness.


Doña Lolita, as she is affectionately known in Puerto Rico, always remained proud of the shooting. The attack came two years after Puerto Rico, formerly a territory of the United States, had officially become a commonwealth. Lolita refused that status and ruled it only more colonization and demanded complete independence for Puerto Rico. On the day of the shooting, she said she had fully expected to give up her life.

Lolita's lifelong dedication to the freedom of her homeland never wavered. After her release from prison she continued her activism, even being arrested twice for protesting the US Navy base on the island of Vieques.


Lolita Lebrón died on August 1, 2010 at the age of 90. She leaves behind a legacy of brash determination and a tireless commitment to freedom which continues to inspire many generations of Puerto Ricans.


Check out the Lolita Lebron limited T-shirt



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