What an exciting adventure to set out for Puerto Rico in search
of Cofresi, the pirate and legendary hero whose story we brought
to life in
"Celebrando 2004 - The Pirates of Puerto Rico."
This original musical, written by PRFDance Director Ana Maria Maynard,
debuted on June 26-27, 2004 was the result of two years of research!
According to popular legend, Pirata Cofresi was the "Robin Hood" of
Puerto Rico. Roberto Kupferachein Ramirez de Arellano was born on
June 12 and baptized on June 27, 1791, in the small seaside town of
Cabo Rojo. Cofresi was a product of his time, an era when the spanish
colonies of the new world were demanding independence from Spain. As an
adolescent Cofresi set out to change Spain's political policies towards his
island of "Borinquen."
From a very young age, Cofresi enjoyed taking his little boat out to
listen to the tales of the old mariners. According to historical
documents, in early years before becoming a pirate, Cofresi may have fished
and transported vegetables in his small boat to sell in his home town.
He later became a corsair, officially licensed to bring in foreign
ships whose papers were not in order. We can only wonder how
Cofresi was influenced while out at sea, watching the big ships carrying
gold, jewels and other Caribbean treasures to Spain, England, and other
far off places?
By 1818 Cofresi and his crew of 15 men were engaged in piracy, stealing
treasure from wealthy ships carrying riches to and from the Caribbean.
In those days goods were scarce for the common people and Cofresi shared
his booty with the poor. The people respected his bravery and protected him.
Over the next several years, Cofresi terrorized European and American
ships including the plundering of the Spanish "San Jose y las Animas" in 1824.
It is said that he may have also aided Puerto Rico's rebellion movement
against Spain by transporting arms from South America.
By 1824, the Spanish governor of Puerto Rico had had enough and called on
the American Navy to help capture Cofresi. Diguised as a commercial
frigate, the fully armed American Navy War Ship USS Grampus put itself
up as bait and awaited an attack from the feared pirate. In the battle
that followed, Cofresi's ship "The Ana" was badly damaged
and many of his crew killed, but his ship managed to escape.
On land, the awaiting Spanish Royal Army engaged Cofresi in another bloody
battle, and captured the now injured Cofresi and his 10 remaining men.
Cofresi and his men were taken to the main Spanish Fort, San
Felipe del Morro, which still stands in Old San Juan. They were tried by
a Spanish Court. Cofresi was executed by a firing squad at the age of 34
on March 27, 1825 in the fields in front of El Morro, along with his men.
Historical documents say that Cofresi was buried in Santa Maria
Magdalena Cemetary. However, the old caretaker there, who prides himself
on knowing the history of every "occupant" in his cemetary,
says that Cofresi and his men were NOT buried there.
Since they were executed as a criminals they could not be laid to rest in
this catholic cemetery. They were
buried behind the cemetery on what is now a lush green hill that overlooks
the cemetary wall. An old document he produced showing the
hillside with crosses seems to indicate so!
It has been a truly wonderful experience the last two years researching the
life and legend of the Pirata Cofresi. We hope you enjoy the results of our
investigation and creation of our upcoming, original musical
"The Pirates of Puerto Rico."
- Roberto Fernandez Valledor, "El Mito de Cofresi en la Narrativa Antillana," Editorial Universitaria, 1978. [Book]
- Walter A. Cardona Bonet, "El Marinero, Bandolero, Pirata y Contrabandista Roberto Cofresi", San Juan. PR, 1991. [Book]
- Ursula Acosta, "Cofresi y Ducoudray: Hombres al Mergen de la Historia," Editorial Edil, Inc., 1991. [Book]
- Francisco Torres Corales, "Leyenda Cofresi," El Interrogador, 1982. [News Article]
- Lucas Moran Arce y Sara Diez Trigo, "Puerto Rico: A-Zeta Encylclopedia." (Old book, page w/publisher info missing.) [Book]
- Ronald Fernandez, Serafin Mendez Mendez and Gail Cueto, "Puerto Rico Past and Present: An Encyclopedia," Greenwood Press, Connecticut, London, 1998.
Press 1967. [Book]
- Alejandro Tapia y Rivera, "Cofresi", written 1876, Ediciones Rumbos, Barcelona, 1967. [Novel]
- Interview with Myrna LLuch, Museo de los Proceres, Cabjo Rojo, PR, 2004.
The beach scenes were taken at Playa Buye, a beautiful beach located on the
coast of Cabo Rojo in the area where the Cofresi family lived.
Today, with the right scuba gear, you can still visit the cave near
Playa Buye that was a hideout for Cofresi and his men.
We hold the banner high for Puerto Rico everyday!
Thank you in advance for your donation of any size!!