Puerto Rican Jíbaro

Puerto Rican Jíbaro

       Jíbaro is a term used to refers to the people who lived inland, that is, in the mountains of the island of Puerto Rico.  The typical jíbaro from the countryside was poor, illiterate and uneducated, we can compare it with the American Hillbilly.  Although it should be noted that not all those who lived on the mountain were jíbaros, rather they were educated Spanish landowners, and the jíbaro who didn't had land worked for them. The jíbaro's rustic lifestyle allowed them to develop their artistic personality, creating stories, poems and musical compositions. The Puerto Rican cuatro, the güiro, and the guitar are the main instruments of jíbaro music, although other instruments are included. They also entertained themselves with cockfights, which were held on Sundays or holidays and the roosters fought with their own spurs.

     The jíbaro possessed a natural wisdom, which empowered them with the skills to work the land, to negotiate the harvest, devise home remedies with herbs and spices, and cook on the stove.  Lechón a la varita, mofongo, pasteles, and asopao, a thick soup of rice and chicken, are traditional and authentic dishes of the Puerto Rican jíbaro.  Over time, the jíbaro moved to the city to study or work in the industrial economy, leaving aside the agricultural economy.  Hospitality, honesty, self-sufficiency, honor, courage, stubbornness, solidarity, hard work, and pride are characteristics that define the traditional and current Puerto Rican jíbaro.

        The jíbaro has been used as a symbol of Puerto Rican pride and identity for several years.  From politicians to Puerto Ricans in the diaspora, they identify themself with what the jibarito represents, an authentic and traditional Puerto Rican.  It refers to the culture that has been transmitted by generations from the inhabitants of the countryside to the current generations of the island.  It should be noted that sometimes the term jíbaro has a negative connotation, being used in a derogatory or sarcastic way to refer to an ignoramus.  Even so, today the term represents Boricua's cultural and moral values such as community and family unity, integrity, resilience and determination.

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