Salinas is known as “The town of the Island Mojo” and its residents are called the Marlins. “Mojo” is a sauce that is used to marinate fried fish and is made from a base of tomato sauce, oil, garlic, bay leaves and onion. The patron saint of the municipality is the Virgin of Monserrate. The territory of Salinas covers approximately 69 square miles (180.4 kilometers). The population, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, is 31,113 salinenses. The municipality is divided into the sectors of Salinas Pueblo, Aguirre, Lapa, Palmas, Quebrada Yeguas and Río Jueyes.
Sugar cane played a fundamental role in the development of Salinas. The cane was processed in the Aguirre Central sugar mill, one of the last to cease operations on the island. Today, Salinas has factories that produce plastic and metal products, electrical and electronic equipment, clothing, fruit drinks and frames for lenses and eyeglasses. Other industries include fruit orchards, raising livestock, and fishing. Tourism is another source of income for the municipality.
Salinas is located on the southern coast of Puerto Rico. It is bordered on the north by the municipalities of Coamo, Aibonito and Cayey, on the south by the Caribbean Sea, on the west by the municipalities of Coamo and Santa Isabel and on the east by Guayama.
Geographically, Salinas is part of the sub-region called the Ponce-Patillas alluvial plain in the southern coastal plain region, which is formed by the consolidation of the valleys that descend southward from the central mountain range and the Cayey range. This region is one of the driest in Puerto Rico. Despite that, Salinas is known for its agricultural wealth.
In the north, it has elevations that are part of the Cayey range, which many consider to be an extension of the central mountain range. The highest of these are Las Tetas peaks, at 2,756 feet (840 meters) above sea level. The next highest peaks are Los Soldados at 2,592 feet (790 meters), the highest point in the Jájome mountains at 2,395 feet (730 meters) and Los Cielos peak, which rises to 1,870 feet (570 meters) in elevation.
To the west, on the border with the municipality of Coamo, are the peaks of Modesto, Respaldo, Pío Juan and Cariblanco, or Cerro de la Bandera. To the east, on the border between the Quebrada Yeguas sector of Salinas and the Pozo Hondo sector of Guayama, rises the Garau peak at 438 meters (1,437 feet) above sea level.
A geological formation in Salinas is Las Piedras del Collado (The Stones of the Pass), popularly known as the Tetas de Cayey. This area was designated a nature reserve by law in September 2000. The designated area includes the two promontories, a segment of primary forest with species of significant ecological value, and a buffer zone, for a total area of 7.86 hectares.
The municipality’s hydrological system consists of the Salinas, Majada, Lapa and Jueyes rivers. The Salinas River forms in the Lapa sector and runs for 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) until it empties into the Caribbean Sea. Its tributaries are the Lapa River, which forms from the Pasto Viejo, Callao and La Palma streams, and the Majada River, which has as a tributary the Jájome River and is fed by the Carmen, Del Palo and De la Mina streams. The Jueyes River originates between Salinas and Coamo and is approximately 13 kilometers in length. Also within the municipality are the Brenes, Yeguas, Cerrillos, Amorós and Aguas Verdes streams. The last two of these form in the Aguirre sector and empty into Jobos Bay.
Another element worth mentioning is that the coast of Salinas, specifically the coast in the Aguirre sector, is low-lying and swampy with many lagoons. One of these is called Mar Negro, or Black Sea. The coast of the municipality includes Rincón Bay, Salinas Beach, Arenas Point, Mar Negro, Colchones Point and Rodeo Point. Along the coast there are also numerous keys, among them the Mata, Ratones, Pájaros and De la Barca keys. On the Mata, Ratones, Pájaros and De la Barca keys, as well as Arenas point and Mar Negro, are mangrove swamps populated with red mangroves. These cover an area of 180 hectares.
The municipality’s name comes from the huge mounds of salt that were found on its coasts. By the middle of the 17th century, the region was inhabited by residents who called the area Las Salinas. Fray Iñigo Abbad described the settlement in his account of 1776. Abbad reported that at that time there were 90 to 100 families in the Coamo parish “whose lands, although sandy and poor, are well cultivated and they harvest much coffee…” At that time, the area was a sector of Coamo and salt was already being produced.
There are documents in the archives of the Department of Public Works that indicate that on February 23, 1842, the residents of the area joined in an effort to obtain authorization to found a town and to share the costs of building the necessary municipal structures. In those documents appears the name of Andrés Ortiz, a resident who offered to donate a cuerda of land for the town.
On July 15, 1847, Salinas was separated from Coamo and annexed to Guayama by royal order. The residents continued their efforts and on July 22, 1851, the town was finally founded. It consisted of the sectors Ausubos or Lapa, Collado, Palmas, Quebrada Yeguas, Quebrada Honda, Río Jueyes and Salinas Pueblo. In 1854, the governor of the diocese issued a decree declaring Salinas an independent parish, devoted to the Virgin of Monserrate.
Raising livestock was a common activity in 1878. There were also three sugar cane plantations with steam-powered machinery, one with an ox-powered cane press, and three coffee farms. In the same year, the sectors of Collado and Quebrada Honda disappeared and the Playas sector was created. On March 1, 1902, the Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly approved the law for the consolidation of certain municipal terms of Puerto Rico. The law ordered that the municipality of Salinas be abolished and its area annexed to Guayama. In 1905, the legislature repealed the law. Salinas once again became an independent municipality with the same sectors it had in 1902. In 1948, the Aguirre sector was divided into Central Aguirre (village), Coquí, San Felipe and Aguirre, and the size of the urban area increased. The Central Aguirre, Coquí and San Felipe sectors are small settlements in the rural Aguirre sector.
In the 1970s, Salinas was one of the most prosperous towns on the island, due to the size and volume of its sugar industry. At that time, the Aguirre mill was operated by the Puerto Rico Sugar Corporation.
The flag is green with five white triangles that symbolize the mounds of salt that appear on the coat of arms and represent the municipality’s salt works.
Coat of Arms
The coat of arms contains the official colors of the municipality: green and silver. The mounds of salt depicted on the upper part of the seal graphically represent the name of the municipality. Meanwhile, the fish shown on the lower part allude to the importance of fishing in the region. The sugar cane branches that surround the seal symbolize the region’s sugar cane plantations.
1853 Lorenzo Rizo, Francisco Sécola y Francisco Martínez
1854 Francisco Sécola
1856 Francisco Martínez
1859 Santiago Porrata Doria
1860 Sebastián Porrata
1868 Eugenio Simiaque
1868 Francisco García
1870-1871 Salvador Antonetti
1871 Enrique Vázquez
1872 Andrés C. Espinet, Mauricio López Arias y Lucas Amadeo
1873 J. M. Lota, Vicente González Gómez y Enrique Disdier
1874 José Amadeo y Pedro García
1876 J. Bayona y Lorenzo Padró
1878-1880 Ramiro Matute y Tejada
1880- 1883 Anecto Caballero
1884 Domingo Mundo y Anecto Caballero
1885 Bernabé Figueroa y Anecto Caballero
1886 Anecto Caballero, Marcelino Peña y Bernabé Figueroa
1887 Bernabé Figueroa y Antonio Fernández
1888 Anecto Caballero y Antonio Fernández
1890 Anecto Caballero y Antonio Fernández
1891 Anecto Caballero, Antonio Fernández y Domingo Mundo
1892 Francisco Segur y Enrique Gallardo Fragoso
1893 Florentino Fraile, Colón Atilano, Guillermo E. Atilano y Domingo Mundo
1894 Francisco Segur y Domingo Mundo
1895 Francisco Segur y Epifanio Vázquez
1896 Epifanio Vázquez y Atilano Colón
1897 Vázquez y J. C. Atilano
1898 E. Vázquez y Luis M. Caballero
1900 Eugenio Torres y Caballero
1901 Luis M. Caballero, Eugenio Torres y Guillermo Atilano Julio Benvenutti
1902 Luis M. Caballero
1922- 1925 Leopoldo Morera Colón
1928 Manuel Iglesia Navarro
1932 Arturo Godreau
1933-1936 Diosdado Dones
1936-1940 Francisco Ortiz
1940-1944 Segundo Díaz
1944-1948 Francisco Sánchez
1948-1952 Victoria Mateo Serrano
1952-1960 Víctor Figueroa
1961-1977 Társilo Godreau Ramos
1977-1985 José I. Díaz
1985-1989 Guillermo Valero Zayas
1989-2000 Basilio Baerga Paravisini
2000-2004 Abraham López Martínez
2004-2012 Carlos J. Rodríguez Mateo
2012-currently Karilyn Bonilla Colón
Hon. Karilyn Bonilla Colón
Places of Interest
• Olympic Center
• Aguirre Forest
• Former Aguirre Central sugar mill
• Camp Santiago
• Museum of Sports
• Puerto Rico International Speedway
• Pozuelo Beach
• Freshwater well
• Jobos Bay Estuarine Research National Preserve
• Monument to Veterans
• Rincón Bay
• Artisans market
• Jagüeyes Forest
Jesús María Amadeo – Physician, novelist and playwright.
Rafael Esparra Cartagena – Public servant. In 1980, he was named special assistant to the Mayor of New York. In 1984 he was named deputy commissioner of the New York Fire Department and, in 1997, he became president of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development. He has been recognized on various occasions for his professional and civic work.
Melvin Rodríguez Rodríguez – Painter and artist. His works focus on religious imagery. He has also created films, all of them made in Puerto Rico.
• National Three Kings Day Procession – January
• Abey Carnival – February
• Fish Festival – June
• International Olympic Festival – June
• Island Mojo Festival – July
• Virgen de la Monserrate Patron Saint Festival – September
• Christmas Festival – 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: June 14, 2015.
Images Gallery of Salinas
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