- Lara Vapnek
Capetillo, Luisa (28 October 1879–10 April 1922), feminist and labor leader, was born in the town of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, the daughter of Luisa Margarita Perone, a domestic servant, and Luis Capetillo Echevarría, a laborer. Her parents were drawn together by their shared belief in democratic ideals expressed in the attempted European revolutions of 1848. Perone had migrated to Arecibo from France to work as a governess for a wealthy family, but ended up laboring as a domestic servant. She participated in the city's intellectual life, distinguishing herself as one of the few women to regularly attend afternoon meetings in the city's cafés. Echevarría, a migrant from the Basque region of Spain, took a succession of jobs on the docks, in agriculture, and in construction. The couple never married, but they raised their daughter together, giving her a broad education. With her parents' encouragement, Capetillo read European literature and philosophy, studying the work of the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, the French anarchist and free-love advocate Madeleine Vernet, and the English philosopher John Stuart Mill. Capetillo later described education as “the mother of freedom” (Valle-Ferrer, p. 74). She thanked her own mother for allowing her to “freely delve into things” unhindered by “tradition.”...