Isabel Rosado Morales

Her dark eyes flashed as her voice rose in intensity and rapidity, intermingling Spanish and English. Isabel Rosado, long-time Nationalist, now in her eighties, was describing how police had manhandled her and trampled on her as she participated in the 1979 ecumenical prayer service on Vieques naval territory. Bruised, her face grimy with sand, she lay gasping for breath. A policeman eyed her with ridicule. "Just an old drunk. Haul her in!" So Isabel, retired teacher and social worker, a woman of culture and learning, was handcuffed and taken to the police station. Upon recognition by a lawyer, she was released. She escaped sharing the fate of the twenty-one who were sentenced to prison for their protest against Navy occupation of the small island of Vieques.

Doña Isabel, as she is affectionately called, was a young elementary school teacher when she heard of the Ponce Massacre. The emotional impact on her was tremendous, swinging her into the orbit of the Nationalist Party. From then on she became an ardent follower of the great patriot of liberation Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos.

Though not a participant in the October 1950 revolution, Doña Isabel's fate became entwined with that of the Nationalists, as our government attempted to destroy the Party. She was taken from her job as school social worker to serve a year's imprisonment. After her release, she fell victim again to the harassment of Nationalists and had to serve another three months.

Barred now from public school employment, she obtained a position in a private school. This was not to last for long. Blame for the attack on Congress by four Nationalists fell on Albizu Campos. Doña Isabel, among others, was in the Nationalist office during a pre-dawn raid by the police. When met by a spray of bullets, the police withdrew. At dawn they returned and tossed tear gas bombs through the bullet-riddled windows. Albizu Campos was carried out unconscious, along with those with him. Doña Isabel was again thrown into prison, this time to serve for eleven years simply for her support of Don Pedro.

Upon her release in 1965, the impossibility of finding employment led her to eke out a living through sewing and crocheting. Living frugally, she maintains her witness for independence.

Doña Isabel became one of our closest and most beloved friends. Walking through town with her was always an adventure. Young people would stop to embrace her with affection. She was constantly putting in a word for independence. On the way to see a lawyer, she engaged a cleaning lady in conversation and then received a warm hug from a young man. Everybody seemed to know her. At the lawyer's office, arrangements were made for a radio broadcast. This was immediately executed as she taped an extemporaneous speech, and I read from a hastily drawn-up script in Spanish proclaiming my support of independence.

She is not often to be found at home. She could be attending a funeral for a patriot at Mayagüez, laying a floral wreath on the grave of a fallen patriot, off on a tour of Cuba, participating in a patriotic observance in the Dominican Republic, visiting Puerto Rican political prisoners throughout the United States.

As I joined in the newly composed liturgy of the Iglesia Episcopal del Pueblo, of Yauco, we prayed to "God, Father of the people, who, for love of His people stirs up among us prophets for our hope." Among the names of Ramón Emeterio Betances, Eugenio María de Hostos, Pedro Albizu Campos, and others, was that of Isabel Rosado, all prophets, seeking to help Puerto Ricans become independent from "North American imperialism and all other imperialism, so that we can construct a new society and a new humanity where oppression of human beings against their brothers does not exist and all are one."