A couple of hundred music, political, business, leterature and media royalty from Puerto Rico gathered for lunch at City Island's Don Coqui today to celebrate the special heritage of La Isla Bonita.
Owner and Patriarch Jimmy Rodriguez, from Puerto Rico started selling seafood in The Bronx years ago. His son, Jimmy Rodriguez Jr. now runs one of the most successful Latin dining experiences in NY. These restaurants provide live music and a wide range of Spanish food delicacies.
Puerto Rican heritage was celebrated by all attendees, including Tito Puente's daughter Audrey Puente, who is a local TV weather-girl. Also El Pulpo, who played piano for Hector Lavoe, El Cantante. Honorees included Tonio Burgos and Caridad De La Luz.
When Christopher Columbus was said to have arrived in Puerto Rico during his second voyage, it was on November 19, 1493, the island was inhabited by the Taíno. They called it Borikén. Columbus named the island San Juan Bautista, in honor of the Catholic saint, John the Baptist. Juan Ponce de León, a lieutenant under Columbus, founded the first Spanish settlement, Caparra, on August 8, 1508. He later served as the first governor of the island. Eventually, traders and other maritime visitors came to refer to the entire island as Puerto Rico, and San Juan became the name of the main trading/shipping port.
Nearly four hundred years later, on November 25, 1897, Spain's central government in Madrid granted Puerto Rico an Autonomic Charter, giving the Province of Puerto Rico more sovereignty over its local affairs. Thus, Puerto Rico became an overseas autonomous province in full equality with the other provinces of the Spanish nation. But in 1898, Spain was forced by the United States to cede the island following the Spanish–American War, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.