The current flag of Puerto Rico (above), designed in 1895 and adopted by the commonwealth in 1952, can be traced back to 1868, when its first flag, known as “The Revolutionary Flag of Lares”, was conceived. This flag was initially used during the short-lived Puerto Rican revolt against Spanish rule on the island, known as “El Grito de Lares”, and remained as the official flag until 1895.
The current design, modeled after the Cuban flag, consists of five equal horizontal bands of alternating red-and-white and a blue isosceles triangle on the hoist side with a large, white, five-pointed star in the center. It was first flown in Puerto Rico during the “Intentona de Yauco Revolt” in March of 1897.
- Its three red stripes represent the blood of the brave Puerto Rican warriors.
- The two white stripes represent the victory and peace that they would have after gaining independence.
- The blue represents the Puerto Rican sky and its blue coastal waters.
- The white star represents the island of Puerto Rico itself.
- The triangle represents its three branches of government.
Although regulations state the colors to be used in the flag, they do not specify any official color tones or shades. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see the flag with different shades of blue displayed throughout the island.
According to some accounts, the famous Puerto Rican journalist, politician, revolutionary, and advocate of Puerto Rican independence, Antonio Vélez Alvarado, came up with the design of the Puerto Rican flag at his Manhattan apartment on June 12, 1892. Legend goes that while staring at a Cuban flag for a few minutes and then looking at the blank wall in which it was being displayed, he suddenly perceived an optical illusion in which the colors of the Cuban flag were inverted. That is, the red of the Cuban flag’s triangle became blue and its blue stripes became red.