Blanca Canales

Puerto Rican politician and independence advocate

Blanca Canales (February 17, 1906 – July 25, 1996) was an educator and a Puerto Rican Nationalist. Canales joined the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party in 1931 and helped organize the Daughters of Freedom, the women's branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. As a leader of the Nationalist party in Jayuya, she stored arms in her house, which were used in a revolt in 1950 against United States rule over the island. During the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party Revolts of the 1950s she led members in the Jayuya Uprising, in which Nationalists took control of the town for three days.


  • Today Puerto Rico is suffering the most monstruous intervention as our territory is surrounded with land bases and submarine bases with powerful atomic weapons that, because of the smallness of the island, can cause the destruction of all the Puerto Ricans and the total disappearance of the island from the map of the world. And as if this horrible menace were not enough, genocide is being perpetrated in the most shameless way with a massive house to house campaign to force the women to use a u.s. form of birth control. The plan is to prevent the birth of more Puerto Ricans. At the same time, they stop the advancement of our youth when they recruit them to take them to their deaths in the fields of Vietnam. On the other hand, they have no qualms in firing over the heads of the Puerto Ricans who live on the island of Culebra and the u.s marines have the audacity to ask that the people of Culebra abandon their island because the almighty marine of the biggest empire in the world has decided to use this island as a target for their military practices.
    • "Message from a Revolutionary Compañera" (October 1970) in Young Lords Reader

Interview (1970)


Originally published in Palante, anthologized in Young Lords Reader

  • The schools I went to only taught yanqui history. You know stuff like George "I never told a lie" Washington, Bunker Hill, Lincoln freed the slaves. The schools were run by yanquis and discouraged the teaching of Puerto Rican history. But I had a teacher once, Carmen Maria Torres, who used to smuggle into the schools books on Puerto Rican history and she would spend time telling us about Puerto Rican heroes like Betances, and the revolution in Lares on September 23, 1968-I felt re-born.
  • I was in jail for 16 years and 10 months, almost 17 years. The empire does not give recognition to the political prisoner.
  • There was racial separation in jail. In one section the white prisoners, in another section the Black prisoners; I was placed with the whites. After a few years they passed an integration law in the jail. The white prisoners refused to abide by that law. I and a group of white communist prisoners decided to struggle against this racism and show those people some decency and the reality that we are all the same. We were the first to integrate. From then on, united with my Black companeras, I enjoyed the best years I had to do in that prison.
    • QUESTION-Being in the southern part of the united states, were all the prisoners black?
  • I believe that all of today's movements are important. What is needed is unity to achieve the independence of our nation. Some times posters, other times fires, strikes, votes, all that is necessary. My hopes lie with the youth, because you have the ability to carry the word onward.
    • QUESTION-What do you think of the contemporary independence movements?

Quotes about Blanca Canales

  • The Puerto Rican Nation must continue. We must open our eyes to the oppressor's tricknology and refuse to be killed anymore. We must, in the tradition of Puerto Rican women like Lolita Lebrón, Blanca Canales, Carmen Pérez, and Antonia Martínez, join with our brothers and, together, as a nation of warriors, fight the genocide that is threatening to make us the last generation of Puerto Ricans.
    • Iris Morales, 1970 article in Through the Eyes of Rebel Women: The Young Lords, 1969-1976
  • We identified as revolutionary nationalists' committed to ending exploitation and colonialism. We were inspired by the herstories of women activists in Puerto Rico. We learned about Lola Rodríguez de Tió and Mariana Bracetti, early fighters for the abolition of slavery and the island's independence from Spain; Luisa Capetillo and Juana Colón, working class organizers and women's rights advocates; and Lolita Lebrón and Blanca Canales, Nationalist Party militants imprisoned for their actions to free Puerto Rico. We studied the lives of African American women such as Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist and women's rights activist, and Harriet Tubman, who freed slaves through the Underground Railroad. Our sisters in the Black Panther Party were diversifying the image of the revolutionary, and we joined the protests to demand the release of Angela Davis from a California prison, and of Afeni Shakur and Joan Bird in New York. The long line of women activists, from contemporary social justice movements, became our role models and mentors.
    • Iris Morales, Through the Eyes of Rebel Women: The Young Lords, 1969-1976
  • The machismo is so strong that there are almost no sisters in the leadership of the independence movement. Where are the Lolita Lebrons, the Canalas, the Viscals?
  • So many things were changing in our world. We looked, and we searched in revolutionary literature. Maybe we found a few pieces, but there really wasn't much because the world had never really dealt with this. We did take as heroines of our struggle Lolita Lebrón and Blanca Canales because they had been in the Nationalist Party struggle in Puerto Rico. We looked to women like Angela Davis. There were two women in the Panther 21 case at the time, Afeni Shakur and Joan Bird, who had been arrested with the brothers. We were proud that women were going on posters. That was real important because this was new. The face of the civil rights movement had been male.
Wikipedia has an article about: