The town of Las Marías is set in the western region of Puerto Rico. Its territory comprises approximately 120 square kilometers (46.3 mi2). Las Marías is also known as the “pueblo de la china dulce” (Town of Sweet Oranges) and “ciudad de los cítricos” (Citrus Fruit City). At the time of the 2000 census, there were 11,061marieños living in Las Marías. The town is divided into sixteen barrios (wards): Alto Sano, Anones, Bucarabones, Buena Vista, Cerrote, Chamorro, Espino, Furnias, Las Marías Pueblo (Downtown), East Maravilla, North Maravilla, South Maravilla, Naranjales, Palma Escrita, Purísima Concepción, and Río Cañas. The town’s patron saint is the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
The municipality’s economy is primarily agricultural. Its major crops are coffee and produce, such as plantains, bananas, and citrus fruits, especially oranges. Most of the jobs available in Las Marías are created in sectors such as construction, retail sales, health care, and social services. In addition, the town’s old coffee haciendas are a great tourist attraction. Las Marías also has a garment factory and marble quarries. The marble is used in the manufacture of floor tiles and terrazzo.
This western Puerto Rican town is bounded by the municipalities of San Sebastián to the north, Maricao to the south, Lares to the east, and Mayagüez and Añasco to the west. Las Marías is part of the geographical region of the Cordillera Central mountain range. Well-known peaks include Las Marías, Plan Bonito, Valladares, Godén, and Herencia. The Urayoán mountain range runs through the southwestern part of the municipality. Due to its topography, nearly 94 percent of the municipality’s land consists of steep slopes. Any plains or fairly flat lands belonging to Las Marías are found mainly in the valleys formed by the Grande de Añasco, Guaba, and Arenas rivers. Its soils, classified as catalina and cialitos clay, are typical highland soils.
The municipality’s waterways include the Grande de Añasco River, also known as the Guacio River, which marks the city limits between Las Marías and San Sebastián. Tributaries to that river include the Guaba, Bucarabones, Mayagüecilla, Arenas, Casey, and Cañas rivers, as well as the Fría, Mayagüecilla, La Verde, Las Marías, Los Verracos, Cintrona, Vélez, Collera, Pepinera, and La Mota Creeks. The municipality is also known for its many springs, especially La Cantera.
During the second half of the 19th century, there was a village perched on the western tip of the Cordillera Central. This settlement was under the jurisdiction of the villa of Mayagüez (a royal burgh, the seat of the regional government). However, we can see that it had attained some degree of importance, since a mayor, don Francisco Pruna Monrose, was appointed in 1842 by the delegation from the villa of Mayagüez for the barrio of Furnias. The present-day town of Las Marías is located on that same site. By 1857, the town hall, the church, the rectory, the cemetery, and the butcher shop had been built. These buildings and institutions represent necessary steps in the establishment of the existing community as an independent municipality.
In October of 1868, just a few weeks after the insurrection in Lares by independence seekers, the governorat that time, Julián Juan Pavía, decreed the creation of a provisional municipal government that would be directly responsible to the corregidor (magistrate) of Mayagüez. The new town under this government would take the name of Las Marías, and would comprise the barrio of that name and the four barrios called Furnias. The governor’s decree came, perhaps, in response to a desire for greater vigilance in this region, with an eye to preventing further outbreaks of dissidence. In any case, though, this area had grown considerably in both population and wealth, and was located at an inconvenient distance from its seat of government in Mayagüez. On October 29, 1868, Benito Recio was appointed mayor in his own right in the jurisdiction of the new municipal government of Las Marías, consisting of the barrios of Furnias, Anones, Río Cañas Arriba, and Naranjales.
Late in 1870, residents initiated the process of having Las Marías declared an independent municipality. Following various consultations and visits to several barrios in the region, Governor Gabriel Baldrich issued an order granting Las Marías the status of a second-class town. As a result, the city council of Mayagüez began to cut its ties with the new municipality. Despite a number of setbacks, the residents continued to promote their cause with the provincial deputation, which named Las Marías an independent town on July 27, 1871.
One year later, the barrios of the new municipality were reorganized. Alto Sano remained unchanged, the only barrio to do so. Anones, Naranjales, and Río Cañas kept their names but their territorial boundaries were modified. Three of the four barrios named Furnias were subdivided: Furnias I became simply Furnias; Furnias II was divided into Maravilla, Buena Vista, and Purísima Concepción; Furnias III became barrios Espino, Chamorro, and Cerrote; and Furnias IV became Palma Escrita and Bucarabones. The barrios of this municipality have remained intact since this reorganization in 1872 except that Las Marías Pueblo was added, and Maravilla was subdivided into East Maravilla, North Maravilla, and South Maravilla.
The flag of Las Marías is divided diagonally into two parts. The upper right triangle is yellow, and the lower left triangle green. Green symbolizes the green of the mountains and vegetation in the town, while yellow represents the wealth of its territory.
Coat of Arms
The coat of arms have in the center of the shield are three María trees (Callophylum brasiliense antillum), each of them flanked by two coffee branches bearing fruit. At the top, between two trees, appears the monogram of Nuestra Señora la Santísima Virgen de Plata. The trees are a direct allusion to the name of the municipality. The coffee branches indicate that Las Marías is located in the coffee-growing region of Puerto Rico and that coffee has always been one of its most important agricultural crops. The monogram of Our Lady represents the original parish, the Parroquia Dulce Nombre de María. The blue and silver enamels are also a reference to the Holy Virgin.
Surrounding the center portion described above is a golden chain, with a broken link at the bottom center of the shield. This broken chain represents freedom, and the participation of Las Marías in the Grito de Lares uprising. Above the shield is a golden crown in the form of a fortified wall with three towers, masoned in sable (black) with openings in sinople (vert; green); this crown is the insignia of the municipality of Las Marías.
Places of Interest
• Barrietos Cave
• Hacienda Fronteras
• Hacienda Planell
• Hacienda Rullán
• Hacienda San Calixto
• Plaza San Carlos (town square)
• Ruins of the Paco Gaztambide sugar mill
Matías Bruckman – Revolutionary, leader of the 1868 insurrection against Spain known as the Grito deLares.
Tomás Manzano Hernández – Lieutenant in the Puerto Rico Police Force; educator and man of letters.
Jacinto Marrero – Journalist, poet, and essayist.
José Luis (Luisito) Medina Caraballo – Historian and designer of the municipal flag.
Benito Recio – Town founder and first mayor.
Juan Román – Painter.
Domingo Silás Ortiz – Educator, short-story writer, and journalist. One of his well-known works is Cantos y cuentos (Songs and Stories).
• Orange Festival – March
• Patron Saint Festival – November and December
Text taken from enciclopediapr.org
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