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Political Rise & Origins

The Origins and Rise of the Puerto Rican Political Presence in Hartford


Olga Mele forms the first Puerto Rican association in Hartford.  Among other activities, voter registration was a central goal.


The fall of 1964 marked the first Connecticut Puerto Rican Day Parade in Hartford.  Aside from celebrating and honoring the Puerto Rican population, voter registration and participation in the upcoming election were strongly encouraged.  The parade established that the Puerto Ricans were beginning to declare their political presence.


A parade held on September 28 composed of Puerto Ricans from more than 10 Connecticut towns stressed the theme “Register to Vote.”  Feliciano Martorell, the president of the Puerto Rican Parade Committee emphasized the strength of the Puerto Rican population when she declared: “From now on we are going to show the administrators throughout the state that we want improvements in the areas of housing, employment, education, health and civil rights.”


María Sánchez, who had lived in Hartford for more than 20 years by 1973, became the first Puerto Rican to be elected to public office when she won a seat on the board of education.

María Sánchez


Connecticut Association of United Spanish Administrators (CAUSA) is formed to advocate for Hispanic agencies and promote political purposes and activism.


A group of Puerto Rican women organize “Voto Boricua” as a means through which to register Hispanic voters throughout Connecticut

Doris Roldán, one of Voto Boricua’s founders, together with 7 other women formed a group dedicated to politics and the status of women called Mujeres Unidas for Justice, Equality, and Reform (MUJER).


On January 25, Mildred Torres became the first Puerto Rican to win a seat on the city council.  The process to appoint Torres had included other Hispanic leaders such as María Sánchez, Andrés Vasquez, and Edwin Vargas, Jr.


The Puerto Rican Political Action Committee (PRPAC) became visible in this year although the process to assert this form of advocacy had begun in the previous decades.  PRPAC was active and prominent between 1985 and 1990 and had become the most significant entity of its kind by 1991.


Puerto Rican born Eddie Pérez elected mayor of Hartford.  Pérez’s election marked the first election to the mayoral office of a Latino.  He was reelected in 2003.

“Eddie Alberto Perez lives the American Dream everyday. As Mayor of Hartford, he wants to make that dream a reality for all residents of the Capitol City.  Mr. Perez has not only made history by being the City’s first Latino Mayor, but its first strong mayor in more than 50 years.  By changing the City Charter in 2002, he is now the CEO of Hartford.  By reducing crime, raising the expectations of public school education, increasing homeownership, and creating more neighborhood economic development, Mayor Perez wants to improve the quality of life for the citizens of the city that was called the ‘House of Hope’ by its Dutch founders.”

Eddie Pérez in 2002.

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