Juana Díaz is located in southern Puerto Rico. The municipality measures 156.3 square kilometers (60.64 square miles). It is known as “the mabee town,” “the city of the Jacaguas River,” the “city of the Three Kings,” and the “Bethlehem of Puerto Rico.” According to the 2000 census, there are 50,531 juanadinos, living in Amuelas, Callabo, Capitanejo, Cintrona, Collores, Emajagual, Guayabal, Jacaguas, Juana Díaz Pueblo, Lomas, Río Cañas Abajo, Río Cañas Arriba, Sabana Llana, and Tijeras wards. This municipality is where the centuries-old tradition of Three Kings Day is celebrated with the most enthusiasm. The famous kings have traveled to Rome to meet Pope John Paul II. The patron saint is Saint Raymond Nonnatus, whose day is celebrated on August 31.
At present, Juana Díaz produces fine quality marble. There are four quarries from where marble tile and chips for terrazo are extracted. The large-scale sugar plantations of the past are now used for fruit, especially mangos, avocados, beans, and produce. There is also some cattle farming.
Juana Díaz is located on the south coast of the island, and is bordered by Ponce to the west; Jayuya, Villalba and Ciales to the north; Coamo and Santa Isabel to the east; and the Caribbean sea to the south. The geographical region is part of the southern coastal plains and semi-arid southern hills, situated on a geological fault. There is very little rain. Topographical features include valleys, plains, and coasts.
This municipality is irrigated by the Descalabrado, Cañas, Guayo, and Jacaguas rivers. A dam was constructed on the Jacaguas River to create the Guayabal reservoir, between Juana Díaz and Villalba. The main tributary of the Jacaguas is the Toa Vaca River (Villalba), on which a dam has also been built. The Cañas River is born in Guayabal ward at an elevation of 1,246 feet (380 meters) above sea level, runs through the municipality, and empties into the sea at Pastillo Point. The Descalabrado River marks the border with Santa Isabel and Coamo. The Guayo River springs from Collores ward. There are other water bodies including Ponceña and La Torre lakes and brooks such as Indalecia and Chiquita. The south coast of the municipality extends from the Descalabrado River mouth of the mouth of the Jacaguas River.
The origin of the name of the town, Juana Díaz, has been a topic for debate among historians. Some say that the town was named for a woman, Juana Díaz, who decided to stay in the area after her husband was killed by Caribs. She acquired a ranch, which she called Jacaguas, in honor of the Cacique Jacaguax, about whom almost nothing is known. Eventually, the town was founded on part of this land. A second version is given by the historian Roberto Monclava, a Juana Diaz native, who argues that the settlement existed by 1582, close to the current riverbank of the Jacaguas River. Other historians, such as Lucas Mattei Rodríguez, disagree, and assert that the town was named for a black slave woman who was murdered in Capitanejo ward. After the crime, the area became known as Juana Díaz. According to Mattei Rodríguez the name was adopted by oral tradition. The researcher adds that in 1798, during the process in which the town was foundd, parish priest Nazario Vicente García opposed naming the town after her.e
At the time it was founded, Juana Díaz was principally a cattle and pig raising area. There was also some produce farming. There were 1,000 residents. During the course of the 19th century the town became a sugar-producing town. Mills included La Luciana, Cristina, Ponceña, Serrano, Amelia, Potala, Cintrona, and Ursula, all which produced sugar and molasses.
By the end of the 19th century, Juana Díaz had quadrupled in population. In 1817, the town separated from Ponce, having 4,325 residents. By the mid-19th century, Juana Díaz comprised Lomas, Guayabal, Villalba Arriba, Villalba Abajo, Hato Puerco Arriba, Hato Puerco Abajo, Caonillas Arriba, Caonillas Abajo, Amuelas, Sabana Llana, Cintrona, Capitanejo, Tijeras, Río Cañas Abajo, Jacaguas, Collado, and Collores wards. In 1878, Vaca and Emajagual wards were incorporated. 1887 was a sad year in the town’s history. During that year an institution known as componte was established in Puerto Rico, resulting in the persecution, torture, and imprisonment of autonomists. In that year, the Ponce court came to the municipality to try the secret societies in the areas.
In the late 19th century the town center had grown sufficiently so that it could be divided in to four urban wards: Norte, Sur, Este, and Oeste. In 1917, however, the municipality lost Villalba Arriba, Villalba Abajo, Hato Puerco Arriba, Hato Puerco Abajo, Caonillas Arriba and Caonillas Abajo, and Vacas wards, which became a part of the new town of Villalba. Juana Díaz was thus comprised of Pueblo Este, Pueblo Norte, Pueblo Oeste, Pueblo Sur, Amuelas, Callabo, Capitanejo, Cintrona, Collores, Emajagual, Guayabal, Jacaguas, Lomas, Río Cañas Abajo, Río Cañas Arriba, Sabana Larga, and Tijeras wards. In the mid-20th century, the Puerto Rico planning board expanded the urban area, including parts of Lomas and Amuelas wards.
The flag of Juana Díaz is comprised of two triangles. The upper triangle is white, and the lower is yellow, representing silver and gold, respectively. The official coat of arms is set at the center.
Coat of arms
The coat of arms bears different symbols of the municipality of Juana Díaz. In the upper part there are thirteen karst haystacks or mogotesrepresenting the thirteen wards of the town. They also symbolize the mountains of the town, which are very rich in minerals. The sun is rising up behind the mountains as a sign of hope and a new horizon for the town. The sun has thirteen rays, one for each ward. Towards the left there is a female figure alluding to Juana Díaz, settler of the town. She is sowing thirteen grains of corn in thirteen rows, symbolizing the seed that gave life to the development of the town.
On the right there is a figure representing Cacique Jacaguax, for whom the Jacaguas River is named. He carries a quiver with thirteen arrows and a bow. There is an arrow above his head. The bow and arrows symbolize the means of survival. At the center there is a Nazarene cross as a symbol of brotherhood and unity between two races: the Spanish and the indigenous peoples. On the lower part there is a harp, a pen, a whip, and a shackle. The harp symbolizes music, the pen symbolizes poetry, since Juana Díaz is the birthplace of poets and writers. The whip and the shackle are reminders of the cruelty of the componte. In the background there are four horizontal lines that represent the Jacaguas River.
The coat of arms is surrounded by a gold band bearing the legend “Ciudad del Jacaguas,” and beneath the coat of arms there is a red ribbon showing the year the town was founded. The coat of arms is crowned with a turreted castle that symbolizes the status of municipality .
Places of interest
• Stone Forest – A mountain in Guayabal ward with ancient rock formations. It is known as the rock cemetery. The site is being developed for ecotourism.
• Collores Ward – the renowned poet Luis Llorens Torres dedicated one of his poems to t he Collores ward.
• Three Kings Museum
• Lucero Cave – a very important archeological and cultural site because of its petroglyphs.
• Guayabal Lake and Reservoir
• Monument to the Three Kings
• Children’s Park
• Jardines de Santo Domingo Promenade
• Camboya Boardwalk
• Luis Llorens Torres Square
• Román Baldorioty de Castro Town Square
• Veterans square.
• Collores waterfall
• Schoenstatt Shrine– built and founded in 1988 by José Ketenich, from Germany. The site is visited by devotees of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.
Carlos Bernier – professional baseball player who played in the major leagues with the Pittsburg Pirates in 1953.
Mario Braschi – journalist, patriot, and literary critic. He used the pen name Canta Claro to defend his liberal ideas and founded the newspapers Don Severo Canta Claro (1873) and El Heraldo del Trabajo. His works include La úlcera and Prosas del sendero.
Tomás Carrión Maduro – poet, essayist, literary critic, playwright, political figure, and journalist. He wrote on many subjects. Carrión Maduro was a representative at the House of Delegates for Ponce and Juana Díaz between 1900 and 1905 and a political adversary of José de Diego. He was imprisoned for his political ideas under Spanish rule. Carrión worked at the newspaper El Día in Ponce and led the newspapers El Pueblo and El Independiente. His works include Cumba (1903), Oradores Parlamentarios (1904) and Ten con ten (1906), and his poetry includes Alma nostálgica andVoces de la noche.
Luis Felipe Dessus – political figure, journalist, and poet. He was an active member of the Puerto Rico Union Party. Dessus founded the Pancho Ibero, a literary and political journal (1917). He collaborated with the newspapers La democracia and El Mundo and the weekly Puerto Rico Ilustrado. His works include Obras and Balas (1916) and the poems Al Jacaguas and Indiana.
Father Ramiro García Rey – Spanish priest who came to Juana Díaz in 1940, devoting his life work to the town. He founded the San Ramón school and chapels in some of the wards. He was one of the organizers of the Three Kings Festival as it is currently celebrated.
Arturo Gómez Costas – essayist and modernist poet who was also important in the world of finance. He was Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Academy of Arts and Sciences and collaborated with El Mundo, Puerto Rico Ilustrado and Revista de las Antillas. His works include El Alcázar de Ariel(1918), San Juan, ciudad fantástica de América (1951), Puerto Rico heroico (1960), Canto a Ponce en 25 estampas (1965), and Vendimias en prosa(1976).
Zoilo Gracia Zayas – educator. His achievements include the creation of the so-called “second units,” schools in the rural areas of Puerto Rico.
Luis Llorens Torres – attorney, poet, essayist, journalist, and legislator. In 1913, he founded the Revista de las Antillas. His most outstanding works include is books of poetry América (1898), Al pie de la Alhambra (1899), and Voces de la campana mayor (1935). Llorens’ most famous poems includeValle de Collores and Canción de las Antillas. He was a representative to the Puerto Rico House of Delegates for the District of Ponce between 1908 and 1909.
Soledad Llorens Torres – poet and essayist.
Roberto Monclova – historian and athlete; he organized a small museum of the history of Juana Díaz in his house.
Cesáreo Rosa Nieves – musician, poet, story-writer, novelist, and essayist. Rosa Nieves was awarded a PhD at the Universidad Autónoma de México. He put on plays in theaters with his own group. His first book of poetry Las veredas olvidadas was published in 1922. His works include Estampas Sinfónicas, La danza puertorriqueña and a book of poetry, La feria de las burbujas. Rosa Nieves was awared the Cervantes Medal in 1924 and the Roosevelt Medal in 1930.
Emilia Villalonga de Armstrong – poet and story writer who wrote under the penname of “Azucena.”
• Children`s Day – January
• Three Kings Festival – January. A religious and folk festival promoted by the Spanish priest Father Valentín Echevarria. The first celebration was held on January 6, 1884, on the eastern side of the town. In the first procession, the Three Kings were represented along with a group of young women dressed as shepherdesses. In 1940, the festival took on a new life under Father Ramiro García Rey, to include the dialogue of the Kings, which originated in Spain. The dialogue is in medieval style and is performed to explain the mysteries of the Incarnation and Revelation which constitute the Epiphany. The symbolism of the offerings to the Child of gold, incense, and myrrh are also described.
• Homage to Love – February
• Luis Llorens Torres week – April. Celebrating the founding of Juana Díaz and Luis Llorens Torres.
• Homage to mothers – May
• Homage to fathers – June
• Patron Saint”s Festival in honor of Saint Raymond Nonnatus – August
• Coast Festival and Regatta – August
• Puerto Rican Culture Month – November. There are poetry recital contests and other cultural events.
• Lighting of the Christmas tree – December. At the town square.
• Juana Díaz Creche– December. During the Christmas season, Dr. Enrique Marrero prepares a nativity scene that has become a special attraction in Juana Díaz. The nativity scene is unique in Puerto Rico for its size and originality. There are over forty feet of houses and structures, according to the ancient architectural style of the Holy Land, as well as vegetation, water bodies, animals, shepherds, and other elements. Dr. Marrero makes the pieces out of plaster, wood, and fiberglass. The nativity scene is located at #2 Mariano Abril Street.
• An evening of poetry and music on the town square – the last Sunday of the month. Music by the town band.
Text taken from enciclopediapr.org
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