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Date of birth

Place of birth


Law Professor at the University of Puerto Rico's Law School
President of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP).


Post Doctoral work in Stockholm, Sweden; Doctorate in International Rights from Oxford University; LL.B. from Yale Law School ; B.A. in Economics from Georgetown University and High School Diploma from Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola (San Juan, Puerto Rico)

International Honors

Honorary President of the Socialist International (SI), the largest organization of political parties around the world.

Dubbed by Ricardo Alarcón as the last "Great Political Figure" ("Prócer") in Puerto Rico and Latin America's history, placing him on a short list, among others with, Simón Bolívar, Ramón Emeterio Betances, Pedro Albizu Campos, Gilberto Concepción de Gracia and Lolita Lebrón.

Political history

Recurring PIP candidate for Governor of Puerto Rico.
Former Senator of Puerto Rico.


Led the Navy-Culebra protests.
Leader for the Cause of Vieques.
Arrested and imprisoned for civil disobedience.

Rubén Ángel Berríos Martínez (born June 21, 1939) is a lawyer, a Puerto Rican politician and current president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP). A former Senator, Berríos is a recurring PIP candidate for Governor of Puerto Rico for three decades, although not consecutively for each elective term.

He led the Navy-Culebra protests, is a leader for the Cause of Vieques suck as and was arrested and imprisoned for civil disobedience.

Biography Edit

Berrios was born in Aibonito, Puerto Rico. He attended high school at Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola (class of 1957). He received his bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Economy from Georgetown University in 1961, his Juris Doctor and Master's Degree in Law from Yale University (Yale Law School), and his doctoral degree in International Rights from Oxford University. He also did some post-doctoral research in Sweden at one time (his first wife was Swedish and his son Rubén was born in Stockholm). He has been a tenured Professor of Law at the University of Puerto Rico School of Law from 1967 to the present.

As a lawyer, Berríos is the only man in Puerto Rican history to be accredited by the International Court of Justice.

Berríos became president of the Independence Party PIP when he was 31 years old and has been president of it five times. Under his leadership, the PIP adopted a democratic socialist program. Although he has had limited success at the voting booth regarding his candidacies for the colonial post of Governor of Puerto Rico in 1976, 1980, 1988, 2000 and 2004; losing all times to either the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) or the New Progressive Party (PNP) candidate, he nevertheless has enjoyed great electoral success when regarding his candidacies to the Senate, receiving more votes than any other candidates in the Puerto Rico -island wide- senatoral elections of 1972, 1984, 1992 and 1996.

In 1972, a thirty three year old Rubén Berríos is elected as Senator for the first time. He later returns to the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico, as a Senator, on three additional occasions, in 1984, 1992, and 1996.

Berríos founded the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean (COPPPAL), is a member of the Executive Council of the Latin American Human Rights Association (ALDHU), and Honorary President of the Socialist International (SI). [1] [2] [3]

He has published the books The Independence of Puerto Rico: Cause and Struggle, Puerto Rico: Nationality and Plebiscite, and Towards the Puerto Rican Socialism, and has collaborated with various publications enjoying wide international prestige such as Foreign Affairs.

Berríos is widely admired by many people in Puerto Rico, including those who don't follow his ideology. Proof of this is that he ran for Senator in 1984 and received 84% of the general vote.

Civil disobedience Edit

In 1971, Berríos led Navy-Culebra protests against the United States Navy's use of the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. He squatted in the Flamenco beach for 3 days, until he was arrested and imprisoned for three months in jail. As a consequence of his imprisonment, he was expulsed from his professorship in the University of Puerto Rico School of Law.

In part because of the efforts of Berríos and others, the U.S. Navy abandoned its facilities in Culebra.

In May 8, 1999 Berríos began camping inside the U.S. Navy bombing practice grounds in the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico (see Navy-Vieques protests). He stayed in the Gilberto Concepción de Gracia encampment —baptized in honor of the PIP founder— for 362 days in an uninterrupted manner; even when the encampment was devastated by storms, and when his health was seriously affected after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. For more than six months, his home was a camping tent; later substituted for a small wood structure.

On December of 1999, he resigned to his Senate seat, because of the uncertained prolongation of his stay in the encampment.

In May 4, 2000 the encampments were evacuated by federal marshalls and United States Marines; Berríos' arrest was televised nationally in Puerto Rico. The United States marshal that conducted the arrest offered a handshake to Berríos when he presented himself. Berríos stayed in shock for a few seconds. Looking at the marshal's extended hand, he rapidly recovered himself and extended his own hand. Both men saluted themselves peacefully. His arrest was symbolic, as he was handcuffed loosely to not squeeze his wrists. The importance of the event was the portray of two gentlemen doing what they must do, respecting each other's different and contrasting ideologies, and responsibilities.

Five days later, Berríos reentered the target practice grounds, but this time he was not arrested without trial, as he was judged by the United States Court for the District of Puerto Rico (Federal District Court) and sentenced to four hours of detention. Similarly to what he did in Culebra 30 years before, Berríos didn't recognize the jurisdiction of the American judicial forum in Puerto Rico, and did not present any legal defense whatsoever. A few days later, he publicly announced he was suffering from prostate cancer.

With the continuation of bombing practices by the U.S. Navy, Berríos announced his intention to enter to the restricted grounds for a third time. He stayed for five (5) days in the target practice area, before being arrested violently and forced to lay on an extremely hot gravel road for an extended period of time after being handcuffed with his hands to his back with the other PIP members that accompanied him at the U.S. Navy bombing range. This time, convicted for the fourth time (one in Culebra and three additional Civil-Disobedience propelled arrests) by a United States District Court, Berríos was sentenced to four months in prison and set free on August 30, 2001; after the imposed sentence was extinguished in full as the PIP's President and Honorary President of the [Socialist International] (SI) lay behind bars for one-hundred and twenty (120) additional days of prison, apart from the other prison terms that he has served.

In part because of the efforts of Berríos and many others, the U.S. Navy abandoned its facilities in Vieques on May 1, 2003.

Former professions or positions held Edit

  • Currently a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, School of Law (2006)
  • Candidate for Governor of Puerto Rico (1976, 1980, 1988, 2000, 2004) - has never won
  • Civil disobedient for the Navy-Culebra protests (1971) and the Cause of Vieques (1999)
  • Lawyer
  • Political party President for the Puerto Rican Independence Party
  • Professor of Law at the University of Puerto Rico (1967 - 1971)
  • Senator of Puerto Rico (1972-1976, 1984-1988, 1993-1996)

Writings / Books / Speeches Edit

  • Berríos, Rubén (2004). Un Mapa Para la Ruta (A Map for the Route)].
  • Berríos, Rubén (1997). Puerto Rico's Decolonization]. Foreign Affairs, Council on Foreign Affairs.
  • Berríos, Rubén (August, 1973). The Independence of Puerto Rico: Cause and Struggle. Speech before the United Nations about colonialism in Puerto Rico.
  • Berríos, Rubén. Towards the Puerto Rican Socialism." Puerto Rico.

Quotes Edit

“I have learned that you can win the battle over the most powerful of nations, the United States, if you have the moral force behind you.” — Rubén Berríos (about his transforming experience after the sacrifices he had to make for the Navy-Vieques protests)

See alsoEdit

References Edit

  1. Puerto Rican Independence Party (1998). [Rubén Berríos: Cápsula Biográfica]. Puerto Rico.
  2. Puerto Rico Herald. Biography: Rubén Berríos. Puerto Berrios

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