Comerío is located in the northern area of the Central Mountain Range of Puerto Rico and measures 73 square kilometers (28.22 square miles). It was first known as Sabana del Palmar because of the many royal palms that grew on a plantation called El Palmar, the site where the town was founded. The town is also called “the pearl of La Plata” and “the town of the guabaleros,” the latter referring to a kind of spider called guabá. According to the 2000 census, there are 20,002 comerieños or guabaleros who live in the following wards: Cedrito, Cejas, Comerío Pueblo, Doña Elena, Naranjo, Palomas, Piñas, Río Hondo and Vega Redonda. The town patron is Holy Christ the Healer, honored in the festival held around the 6th of August.
Traditionally the town economy has been based on coffee, tobacco, and produce. At the beginning of the 20th century there were three cigar factories that had been established by natives of Comerío: Cobián y Compañía; La Comerieña, owned by Sánchez and Compañía; and El Privilegio, owned by Santiago Umpierre y Compañía, the latter being the largest in terms of sales and employees. In 1901, cigars from Comerío were awarded a gold medal at an exposition in New York City. Today the town has manufacturing plants that produce electrical and electronic devices, footwear, cigars, and furniture. Minerals have been found on Mount La Tiza including white clay, kaolin, alunite, pyrophilite, sericite, and silica. In 2003, the municipal government of Comerío received an award from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its recycling efforts.
Comerío is located in the central-eastern region of the island and is bordered by Naranjito and Bayamón to the north; Cidra and Barranquitas to the south; Aguas Buenas and Cidra to the east, and Barranquitas to the west. The elevation is 656 feet (200 meters) or more, including Mount La Tiza at 2,165 feet (360 meters); Mount Comerío at 1,880 feet (573 meters); Mount Magueyes at 1,870 feet (570 meters); Mount Lazo at 1,542 feet (470 meters), and Mount Viento Caliente at 2,132 feet (650 meters) above sea level.
The town is irrigated by the La Plata River and its tributaries the Hondo and Arroyata rivers. The La Plata River runs through the center of town and has been very influential in the development of Comerío, so much so that Comerío is known as La Perla del Plata (the pearl of La Plata). There are two small dams on the river known as Comerío Uno and Comerío Dos, the first of which was built in 1908 for the purpose of supplying electric power to the San Juan metropolitan area. The original capacity of the reservoirs was 740,000 square meters (600 acres). Streams than run through Comerío include Convento, Piña, Quebrada Prieta, Cándida, Tigre, Naranjo, Ollas, and Jagüita brooks.
The name Comerío is derived from the name of a Taino cacique, probably a son of Cacique Caguax. Others think that the name of the town originated in a story. The legend is that there were some people gathered down by the river when they saw a man at the other side of the river pushing a salve towards the rising river. The owner wanted the slave to cross the river to carry a message for him. According to the legend the slave cried out: “Oh master, “me come-río,” which means in Spanish that the river will swallow him. This event so impressed the community that the slave was given the nickname of Comerío, which later became the name of the town.
In late 1799, a settlement was established around a plantation known as El Palmar by people who came from Bayamón, Barranquitas, and Cidra. Years later, these settlers designated a delegate to take the necessary steps to obtain permission to found a town and establish an independent parish. The petition was denied. In 1821, a territory called Hato de Comerío was separated from Bayamón and joined to the town of Barranquitas, which led to the creation of Comerío Alto and Comerío Bajo wards. Arroyato, Piña, Río Hondo, Sierra and Quebrada Prieta wards from the Bayamón, Cidra, and Barranquitas jurisdictions were added to this territory. At last, in 1826, Comerío was officially constituted as a municipality with the name of Sabana del Palmar, comprising Arroyato, Comerío Alto, Comerío Bajo, Piñas, Quebrada Prieta, Río Hondo, and Sierra wards.
In 1832, the new parish was established under the advocation of Holy Christ the Healer and Our Lady of Candlemas. In the mid 19th century, Sabana del Palma comprised Vega Redonda, Cejas, Naranjo, Cedrito, Doña Elena, Palomas, Rió Hondo, and Piña wards and the population was about 3,000. In 1894, the name of Sabana del Palmar was changed to Comerío by order of the Spanish Crown.
During the first half of the 20th century, an electric power plant was built using the water power of the Comerío falls and the Blanco River. This plant supplied electrical power to 30 towns. By 1933, it produced 38 million kilowatt hours, about half of the island’s energy needs. In 1950, the plant’s output surpassed 154 kilowatt hours.
Agriculture in Comerío has always been tied to tobacco. During Spanish colonial times, tobacco was picked and prepared principally to be sold in Cuba. In the early 20th century the tobacco factories in Comerío supplied the United States market. The factories ran into financial trouble after the Second World War and some were forced to close operations. As a result of this crisis, a cooperative movement took over the factories that had been closed. In 1974, there were 155 tobacco farmers with an annual production of 14,717 quintales or hundredweights.
The Comerío flag is a variation of the town”s coat of arms. The flag is divided into equal quarters, two of which are white, and two of which are green. The upper right quarter bears a yellow anchored cross.
Coat of Arms
The Comerío coat of arms is comprised of four quarters bearing what is known as an escutcheon of pretense, a small shield, at the center. The upper left quarter has a green field with a golden cross, representing Holy Christ the Healer, the patron of the town. The lower left quarter bears undulating green stripes on a silver field, alluding to the Comerío falls and the La Plata River. The upper right quarter has a silver field bearing three royal palms in remembrance of the original name of the town. The undulating line that divides the upper and lower right quarters symbolizes the mist that covers the town like a sheet. The crown adorned with Taino motifs represents the cacique Comerío, whose name is now borne by the town. The escutcheon or center of the coat of arms bears a tobacco plant, the product that from early on was the center of economic activity and made Comerío known as the “tobacco town.” The inscription “the pearl of La Plata” refers to the location of Comerío on the banks of the La Plata River. The coat of arms is crowned by a turreted castle, the symbol of municipalities.
1828 José de la Rosa Carmona
1832 Esteban de Rivera
1849 Frutos García
1850 Sebastián Colón
1851 Juan Vicente Vega
1855 José Eloy Tinajero, Galo García Ilarraza
1866 Manuel Otero
1870 Santiago Aldrey, Pablo José Rivera
1871 Pedro Espina
1873 Braulio Vázquez
1877 José Ruperto Carpena
1879 Alejandro Villar
1880 Pedro Espina
1882 Lorenzo Muñoz
1889 Ramón Llanos
1890 Juan Bautista Longo
1891 Pedro Espina
1893 Ramón Quirós
1895 José R. Carmona
1897 Cirilo Cruz
1899 José Francisco Carmona
1901 Antonio Colón
1903 Juan Santiago Rivera
1905 Cirilo Cruz Rodríguez
1906 Celestino Pérez Rivera
1910 Antonio Colón Rivera
1911 Celestino Pérez Rivera
1915 Virgilio Santiago
1918 Celestino J. Pérez
1929 Arturo Pérez Vázquez
1933 Gumersindo Carmona
1935 Ramón Carmona
1936 Nicolás Morales Hernández
1945 Guillermo Martorell Pérez
1946 Carmelo J. Gorritz
1948 Máximo Préstamo Ortiz
1956 Eliseo Guerrero Ortiz
1972 Gumersindo Carmona Rivera
1992 Luis Antonio Rivera Rivera
1997 Emiliano Rivera López
2000 currently José A. Santiago
Hon. José A. Santiago Rivera
Places of Interest
• Tobacco warehouses – former tobacco warehouses located in the center of town which have now been rebuilt to be used as government offices and parking buildings.
• Media Luna recreational area – a swimming pool with gazebos and a meeting room for social activities.
• Mount La Tiza – a lookout point with a panoramic view of the San Juan metropolitan area and the Atlantic Ocean.
• La Mora caves – a very important archeological resource.
• Finca Longo – the most important habitat for the preservation of the Puerto Rican plain pigeon (Columba inornata wetmorei), an endangered endemic species.
• Holy Christ the Healer Catholic Church
• Las Pailas – a water hole in Rio Hondo ward.
• Los Pilones – a water hole in Rio Hondo ward.
• Comerío dam – located in the Comerío waterfall community
• Comerío Town Square
• La Plata River
• Comerío waterfall
Juan Agosto Alicea – Secretary of the Treasury Department (1985 – 1989). Agosto Alicea also presided the boards of: the Government Development Bank, the Interest, Fees, and Financing Regulating Board, and the government-owned Puerto Rico Shipping Company.
María Arroyo de Colón – president of the Puerto Rico Teachers Association (1956 – 1969) and founder of the Teachers Retirement Home. Senator-at-large between 1969 and 1972. She is known as the “Exemplary woman of Puerto Rico”.
Pablo Centeno Rivera – accountant, political figure, and civic leader. Mayor of Comerío from 1981 to 1992.
Juana Colón – founder of the Socialist Party in Comerío and defender of the working class.
María Luisa Negrón Núñez – Spanish teacher in Puerto Rico and Richmond, Virginia.
Celestino J. Pérez – pharmacist, attorney and House representative for District 26 from 1929 to 1932.
Manuel A. Pérez – professor, labor commissioner and director of the personnel office during the governorship of Rexford G. Tugwell.
Juan E. Rivera – Colonel of the Puerto Rico Police in 1979.
Rubén Rivera Ramos – House representative for District 6 from 1961 to 1964; Senator-at-large from 1965 to 1968 and Senator for District. 2 from 1969 to 1972.
Armando Rivero – Senator-at-large (1965 – 1968) and secretary general of the General Labor Confederation.
Claudio Torres – composer. Author of many danzas, waltzes, boleros, marches, plenas, and guarachas.
• Patron saint`s festival in honor of Holy Christ the Haler – August
• Comerio Jíbaro Festival – October
• Saint Andrew the Apostle – November
• Mora Caves Festival – December
• El Seco Marathon– December
• Christmas Fantasy –December
Note: These articles have been edited and checked by academics and specialists in History. Discrepancies may exist among historians regarding some data.
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: January 07, 2009.
Images Gallery of Comerío
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