List of Puerto Ricans

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List of Notable Puerto Ricans
and people of Puerto Rican descent
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Location of the island of Puerto Rico (green)

]This is a list of notable people from Puerto Rico which includes people who were born in Puerto Rico (Borinquen) and people who are of full or partial Puerto Rican descent. The Government of Puerto Rico has been issuing "Certificates of Puerto Rican Citizenship" to anyone born in Puerto Rico or to anyone born outside of Puerto Rico with at least one parent who was born in Puerto Rico since 2007. Also included in the list are some long-term continental American and other residents or immigrants of other ethnic heritages who have made Puerto Rico their home and consider themselves to be Puerto Ricans.

The list is divided into categories and, in some cases, sub-categories, which best describe the field for which the subject is most noted. Some categories such as "Actors, actresses, comedians and directors" are relative since a subject who is a comedian may also be an actor or director. In some cases a subject may be notable in more than one field, such as Luis A. Ferré, who is notable both as a former governor and as an industrialist. However, the custom is to place the subject's name under the category for which he/she is most noted.

As of 2019, this list will be carefully maintained, and adding or deleting a name without first discussing the change on the article's talk page is likely to be reverted. This list should contain the names of persons who meet the pre-established Notability criteria, even if the person does not have an article yet. Additions to the list must be listed in the section which best describes the field for which the person is most notable and in alphabetical order by surname. Each addition to the list must also provide a reliable verifiable source which cites the person's notability or the person's link to Puerto Rico, otherwise the name will be removed.

Actors, actresses, comedians and directors

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  • Tony Oliver (born 1958), voice actor
  • Karen Olivo (born 1976), actress (Puerto Rican father); winner of 2009 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress
  • Angel Oquendo, actor
  • Ana Ortiz (born 1971), actress
  • Claudette Ortiz (born 1981), singer and model
  • Elín Ortiz (1934–2016), actor, television producer
  • John Ortiz (born 1968), actor
  • Irad Ortiz Jr (born 1992), jockey, three times winner of the Eclipse Award for best jockey in USA (2018,2019,2020)
  • Jose Ortiz (born 1993), jockey, 2017 winner of the Eclipse Award for best jockey in USA

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Adult film entertainers

Hosts/presenters

Architects

Andrés Mignucci, architect

Authors, playwrights and poets

José Rivera, playwright

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  • Jack Agüeros (1934–2014), author, playwright, poet and translator
  • Quiara Alegría Hudes (born 1977), author, playwright; wrote the book for the Broadway musical In the Heights; winner of 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama; her play, Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2007 and has been performed around the country and in Romania and Brazil
  • Miguel Algarín (1941–2020), poet, writer, co-founder of the Nuyorican Poets Café
  • Manuel A. Alonso (1822–1889), poet and author, considered by many to be the first Puerto Rican writer of notable importance
  • Francisco Arriví (1915–2007), writer, poet, and playwright; known as "the father of the Puerto Rican theater"
  • Rane Arroyo (1954–2010), poet, playwright and scholar

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  • Pura Belpré (1899–1982), author; first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City
  • Samuel Beníquez (born 1971), author of the autobiographical book Tu alto precio ... Mi gran valor
  • María Bibiana Benítez (1783–1873), playwright, poet
  • Alejandrina Benítez de Gautier (1819–1879), poet whose collaboration with the "Aguinaldo Puertorriqueño" (collection of Puerto Rican poetry) gave her recognition as a great poet
  • Tomás Blanco (1896–1975), writer and historian; author of Prontuario Historico de Puerto Rico and El Prejuicio Racial en Puerto Rico (Racial Prejudice in Puerto Rico)
  • Juan Boria (1906–1995), Afro-Caribbean poet, also known as the Negro Verse Pharaoh; known for his Afro-Caribbean poetry[citation needed]
  • Giannina Braschi, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow; author of the bestselling Spanglish classic Yo-Yo Boing! and United States of Banana
  • Julia de Burgos (1914-1953) was a poet and activist who advocated for Puerto Rican independence. She was a civil rights advocate and a brilliantly intellectual poet. She was an early literary trailblazer for the Nuyorican movement. She defied social norms within her poetry and delved into topics such as the colonial past of her island and the effects of slavery, the imperialist legacy, and feminist ideology.

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  • Héctor Feliciano (born 1952), author; his book The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World's Greatest Works of Art has shed light on an estimated 20,000 looted works; each one is owned by a museum or a collector somewhere
  • Isabel Freire de Matos (1915–2004), writer, educator and advocate of Puerto Rican independence
  • Rosario Ferré (1938–2016), writer
  • Shaggy Flores (born 1973), Nuyorican writer, poet; African diaspora scholar; founder of Voices for the Voiceless
  • Félix Franco Oppenheimer (1912–2004), poet and writer; works include Contornos, Imagen y visión edénica de Puerto Rico, and Antología poética

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  • Hugo Margenat (1933–1957), poet; founder of the political youth pro-independence organizations Acción Juventud Independentista and Federación de Universitarios Pro Independencia
  • René Marqués (1919–1979), playwright; wrote La Carreta (The Oxcart), which helped secure his reputation as a leading literary figure in Puerto Rico
  • Nemir Matos Cintrón (born 1949), poet, novelist
  • Francisco Matos Paoli (1915–2000), poet, critic, and essayist; nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1977; a Secretary General of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
  • Concha Meléndez (1895–1983), poet, writer
  • Manuel Méndez Ballester (1909–2002), writer
  • Nancy Mercado (born 1959), poet, playwright; author of It Concerns the Madness, seven theatre plays, and a number of essays; her work has been extensively anthologized
  • Pedro Mir (1913–2000), Poet Laureate of the Dominican Republic (Puerto Rican mother)
  • Nicholasa Mohr (born 1938), writer; her works, among which is the novel Nilda, tell of growing up in the Bronx and El Barrio and of the difficulties Puerto Rican women face in the United States; in 1973, became the first Hispanic woman in modern times to have her literary works published by the major commercial publishing houses; has had the longest career as a creative writer for these publishing houses of any Hispanic female writer
  • Rosario Morales (1930–2011), author; co-author of Getting Home Alive (1986) with her daughter Aurora Levins Morales

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  • Mercedes Negrón Muñoz (1895–1973), a.k.a. "Clara Lair"; poet whose work dealt with the everyday struggles of the common Puerto Rican

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  • Judith Ortiz Cofer (1952–2016), poet, writer and essayist; in 1994, became the first Hispanic to win the O. Henry Prize for her story "The Latin Deli"; in 1996, she and illustrator Susan Guevara became the first recipients of the Pura Belpre Award for Hispanic children's literature
  • Micol Ostow (born 1976), author of Mind Your Manners, Dick and Jane and Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa

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Beauty queens and fashion models

Business people and industrialists

José Ramon Fernández, "Marqués de La Esperanza"
Juan Serrallés, industrialist, founder of Destilería Serralles, makers of Don Q rum
Eduardo Georgetti, wealthy sugar baron

Cartoonists

Civil rights and political activists

Helen Rodriguez-Trias, women's rights activist and recipient of the Presidential Citizen's Medal
  • Mariana Bracetti (1825–1903) a.k.a. "Brazo de Oro" ("Golden Arm"), political activist; leader of the Lares's Revolutionary Council during the Grito de Lares; knit the first flag of the future Republic of Puerto Rico
  • Mathias Brugman (1811–1868), political activist; leader of the Grito de Lares; founded the first revolutionary committee in the City of Mayagüez; his revolutionary cell was code named "Capa Prieta" (Black Cape)
  • María Cadilla (1884–1951), women's rights activist; one of the first women in Puerto Rico to earn a doctoral degree
  • Luisa Capetillo (1879–1922), labor activist; one of Puerto Rico's most famous labor organizers; writer and an anarchist who fought for workers and women's rights
  • Alice Cardona (1930–2011), activist and community organizer
  • Dennis Flores, activist and filmmaker.
  • Tito Kayak (born 1958), political activist; gained notoriety when a group of Vieques natives and other Puerto Ricans began protesting and squatting on U.S. Navy bombing zones after the 1999 death of Puerto Rican civilian and Vieques native David Sanes, who was killed during a U.S. Navy bombing exercise
  • Sylvia del Villard (1928–1990), Afro-Puerto Rican activist, founder of the Afro-Boricua El Coquí Theater; an outspoken activist who fought for the equal rights of the Black Puerto Rican artist; in 1981, she became the first and only director of the Office of Afro-Puerto Rican Affairs of the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (Puerto Rican Institute of Culture) (see also "Actresses")
  • Isabel González (1882–1971), civil rights activist; young Puerto Rican mother who paved the way for Puerto Ricans to be given United States citizenship
  • Lillian López (1925–2005), librarian and labor activist; founder of the New York Public Library South Bronx Project; advocate for library and education services for Spanish-speaking communities
  • Óscar López Rivera (born 1943), pro-independence activist; the longest incarcerated FALN member
  • José Maldonado Román (1874–1932), a.k.a. "Aguila Blanca" (White Eagle), revolutionary
  • Rosa Martínez (b. 1952) and Eliana Martínez (1981–1989), AIDS activist; was involved in a notable Florida court case regarding the rights of HIV+ children in public schools
  • Felícitas Méndez (1916–1998) (née Gómez), activist; with her husband, in 1946, led a community battle which set an important legal precedent for ending de jure segregation in the United States (see Mendez v. Westminster); credited with paving the way for integration and the American civil rights movement
  • María de las Mercedes Barbudo (1773–1849), political activist; often called the first female Puerto Rican "Independentista"
  • Ana María O'Neill (1894–1981), women's rights activist and educator; in 1929, became the first female professor in the field of commerce in the University of Puerto Rico, which she taught until 1951; urged women to participate in every aspect of civic life and to defend their right to vote
  • Manuel Olivieri Sánchez (1888–?), civil rights activist; court interpreter and a civil rights activist who led the legal battle which granted U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans living in Hawaii
  • Olivia Paoli (1855–1942), suffragist and activist who fought for the rights of women in Puerto Rico. She was also the founder of the first theosophist lodge in Puerto Rico.
  • César A. Perales (born 1940), civil rights lawyer; founder of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (now LatinoJustice PRLDEF); won precedent-setting lawsuits combating discrimination; New York Secretary of State
  • Sylvia Rae Rivera (1951–2002), transgender activist; veteran of the 1969 Stonewall riots
  • Anthony Romero (born 1965), civil rights leader; executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union
  • Helen Rodríguez Trías (1929–2001), physician and women's rights activist; first Latina president of the American Public Health Association; a founding member of the Women's Caucus of the American Public Health Association; recipient of the Presidential Citizen's Medal; credited with helping to expand the range of public health services for women and children in minority and low-income populations in the US, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East (see also "Educators" and "Scientists")
  • Ana Roque (1853–1933), women's rights activist, educator and suffragist; one of the founders of the University of Puerto Rico
  • Soraya Santiago Solla (1947–2020), transgender activist; first person in Puerto Rico to change the gender designation on their birth certificate following gender confirmation surgery
  • Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (1874–1938), civil rights and pro-independence activist; pioneer in black history who helped raise awareness of the contributions by Afro-Latin Americans and Afro-Americans to society
  • Pedro Julio Serrano (born 1974), human rights activist; President of Puerto Rico Para [email protected], which strives for inclusion of LGBT community and for social justice for all in Puerto Rico; Communication Manager at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
  • Marcos Xiorro, house slave; in 1821, planned and conspired to lead a slave revolt against the sugar plantation owners and the Spanish Colonial government in Puerto Rico

Nationalists

Political activists who were members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party:

  • Elías Beauchamp (1908–1936), political activist and nationalist; in 1936, assassinated Elisha Francis Riggs, the United States-appointed police chief of Puerto Rico; considered a hero by the members of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement
  • Blanca Canales (1906–1996), political activist; nationalist leader who led the Jayuya Uprising in 1950 against US colonial rule of Puerto Rico
  • Rafael Cancel Miranda (1930–2020), political activist; member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party and advocate of Puerto Rican independence who attacked the United States House of Representatives in 1954
  • Óscar Collazo (1914–1994), political activist; one of two nationalists who attempted to assassinate President Harry S. Truman
  • Rosa Collazo (1904–1988) a.k.a. Rosa Cortéz Collazo, political activist and treasurer of the New York City branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
  • Raimundo Díaz Pacheco (1906–1950), political activist; Commander-in-Chief of the Cadets of the Republic (Cadetes de la República), a quasi-military organization and official youth organization within the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
  • Andrés Figueroa Cordero (1924–1979), political activist; member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party; one of four nationalists who attacked the United States House of Representatives in 1954
  • Irvin Flores Ramírez (1925–1994), political activist; Nationalist leader and activist; one of four nationalists who attacked the United States House of Representatives in 1954
  • Lolita Lebrón (1919–2009), political activist; Nationalist leader and activist; the leader of four nationalists who attacked the United States House of Representatives in 1954
  • Tomás López de Victoria (1911–?), political activist and Sub-Commander of the Cadets of the Republic; the captain in charge of the cadets who participated in the peaceful march which ended up as the Ponce massacre, he led the Nationalists in the Arecibo revolt in the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party Revolt of 1950
  • Isolina Rondón (1913–1990), political activist and Treasurer of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party; one of the few witnesses of the October 24, 1935 killing of four Nationalists by local police officers in Puerto Rico during a confrontation with the supporters of the Nationalist Party, known as the Río Piedras massacre
  • Hiram Rosado (1911–1936), political activist and nationalist; in 1936 participated in the assassination of Elisha Francis Riggs, the United States-appointed police chief of Puerto Rico; he and his comrade Elías Beauchamp are considered heroes by the members of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement
  • Isabel Rosado (1907–2015), political activist; imprisoned multiple times
  • Vidal Santiago Díaz (1910–1982), political activist; barber of Pedro Albizu Campos and uncle of the novelist Esmeralda Santiago; made Puerto Rican media history when numerous police officers and National Guardsmen attacked him at his barbershop during the 1950 Nationalist Revolt; this was the first time in Puerto Rican history that such an attack was transmitted via radio to the public
  • Griselio Torresola (1925–1950), political activist; Nationalist who died in an attempt to assassinate President Harry S. Truman in 1950
  • Carlos Vélez Rieckehoff (1907–2005), political activist, former President of the New York chapter of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party in the 1930s; in the 1990s was among the pro-independence activists who protested against the United States Navy's use of his birthplace, Vieques, as a bombing range
  • Olga Viscal Garriga (1929–1995), political activist, member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party; in the late 1940s became a student leader at the University of Puerto Rico and spokesperson of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party's branch in Río Piedras

Clergy, religion

Painting of Santa Rosa de Lima
Painting of Alejo de Arizmendi

Pre–20th century

20th century

21st century

Composers, singers, musicians and opera performers

Marc Anthony, singer
José Feliciano, singer and composer of "Feliz Navidad"
Edward W. Hardy, Composer and Musician
Jim Jones, rapper
Ricky Martin, singer
Elsa Miranda, singer
Carli Muñoz, pianist
Rubén Colón Tarrats, orchestra conductor

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Opera

Criminals and outlaws

Antonio Correa Cotto

Pre-20th century

  • Roberto Cofresí, a.k.a. '"El Pirata Cofresí"' (Cofresí the Pirate); his exploits as a pirate are part of Puerto Rico's folklore

20th century

21st century

Diplomats

Hans Hertell

20th century

21st century

Educators

Rafael Cordero
Eugenio María de Hostos
Angel M. Ramos
Drawing of Angelo Falcón
  • Ursula Acosta, educator; one of the founding members of the Sociedad Puertorriqueña de Genealogía (Puerto Rican Genealogical Society)
  • Alfredo M. Aguayo, educator and writer; established the first laboratory of child psychology at the University of Havana
  • Carlos Albizu Miranda, psychologist, educator; first Hispanic educator to have a North American university renamed in his honor and one of the first Hispanics to earn a PhD in Psychology in the US
  • Margot Arce de Vázquez, educator; founder of the Department of Hispanic Studies in the University of Puerto Rico
  • Jaime Benítez, former Resident Commissioner; longest serving chancellor and president of the University of Puerto Rico
  • Frank Bonilla, educator; academic who became a leading figure in Puerto Rican studies
  • Carlos E. Chardón Palacios, first Puerto Rican mycologist and first Puerto Rican appointed as Chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico
  • Carlos A. Chardón López, educator and public administrator; the only Puerto Rican to serve twice as Puerto Rico Secretary of Education
  • Edna Coll, educator and author; President of the Society of Puerto Rican Authors in San Juan; founder of the Academy of Fine Arts in Puerto Rico
  • Celestina Cordero, educator; in 1820, founded the first school for girls in Puerto Rico
  • Rafael Cordero, educator; declared Venerable in 2004 by Pope John Paul II; the process for beatification is now in motion with Benedictine Fr. Oscar Rivera as Procurator of the Cause
  • Waded Cruzado, first Hispanic president of Montana State University
  • Eugenio María de Hostos, educator; in Peru, he helped to develop that country's educational system and spoke against the harsh treatment given to the Chinese who lived there. He stayed in Chile from 1870 to 1873. During his stay there, he taught at the University of Chile and gave a speech titled "The Scientific Education of Women;" he proposed that governments permit women in their colleges; soon after, Chile allowed women to enter its college educational system (see also "Politicians" and "Authors).
  • Angelo Falcón, political scientist; author of Atlas of Stateside Puerto Ricans (2004); co-editor of Boricuas in Gotham: Puerto Ricans in the Making of Modern New York City (2004)
  • José Ferrer Canales, educator, writer and activist
  • Megh R. Goyal, professor, historian, scientist; "father of irrigation engineering in Puerto Rico"; Professor in Agricultural & Biomedical Engineering at University of Puerto Rico
  • Sonia Gutierrez, (born July 8, 1939) is an American educator and Hispanic rights activist. She was principal, counselor and advocate for adult students at the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, an adult charter school in Washington, D.C.
  • Felix V. Matos Rodriguez, educator; Chancellor of the City University of New York
  • Concha Meléndez, educator, writer poet
  • Ana G. Méndez, educator; founder of the Ana G. Méndez University System
  • Ingrid Montes, educator, professor of chemistry at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras
  • Antonio Miró Montilla, architect, educator; first architect appointed head of a government agency, the Puerto Rico Public Buildings Authority, 1969–71; first dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, 1971–78; Chancellor of the Río Piedras Campus of the University of Puerto Rico, 1978–85
  • Antonia Pantoja, educator; founder of ASPIRA; awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Ángel Ramos, educator; Superintendent of the Sequoia Schools for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; one of the few deaf Hispanics to earn a doctorate from Gallaudet University
  • Dr. Juan A. Rivero, educator; founded the Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo in Mayagüez; discovered numerous animal species and has written several books
  • Havidan Rodriguez, educator and scholar; President of the University at Albany, SUNY, 2017–present; first Latino/Hispanic President of any four-year SUNY institution
  • Ana Roque, educator and suffragist; one of the founders of the University of Puerto Rico
  • Carlos E. Santiago, economist and educator; Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Ninfa Segarra, New York City Council member; president of the New York City Board of Education, 2000–02
  • Victoria Leigh Soto, educator who emerged as a hero in the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, when she hid students and died trying to protect them from alleged shooter Adam Lanza; her father is Puerto Rican
  • Lolita Tizol, early 1900s educator; at a time when most people in Ponce, as most of Puerto Rico, did not know how to read and write, and when teachers were paid only $50 per month, even in the large cities, Tizol took it upon herself to overcome all challenges to help others
  • Nilita Vientós Gastón, educator; first female lawyer to work for the Department of Justice of Puerto Rico; defended the use of the Spanish language in the courts of Puerto Rico, before the Supreme Court, and won
  • Mariano Villaronga-Toro, educator and public servant; first Commissioner of Public Instruction after the creation of the Estado Libre Asociado; instituted the use of Spanish as the official language of instruction in the Puerto Rico public education system, displacing English, which had been pushed by the US-appointed colonial governors

Governors of Puerto Rico

Juan Ponce de León II

Pre-20th century

20th century

21st century

First Ladies of Puerto Rico

First Lady or First Gentleman of Puerto Rico, a.k.a. Primera Dama o Primer Caballero de Puerto Rico in Spanish, is the official title given by the government of Puerto Rico to the spouse of the governor of Puerto Rico or the relatives of the governor, should the holder be unmarried. The governor's spouse leads the Office of the First Lady or First Gentleman of Puerto Rico. The position of First Lady or First Gentleman carries no official duty and receives no compensation for their service. They generally oversee the administration of La Fortaleza, the mansion that serves as the governor's residence and office. They also organize events and civic programs, and typically get involved in different charities and social causes.

First Gentleman of Puerto Rico

Historians

Salvador Brau
Tony Santiago Rodríguez a.k.a. Tony "the Marine" Santiago

Journalists

Geraldo Rivera

Judges, law enforcement and firefighters

Judges

Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court

Laws in the U.S. inspired by Puerto Ricans

  • Briana's LawBriana Ojeda was an 11-year-old girl who died in the summer of 2010 when a police officer did not perform CPR on her after she suffered from an asthma attack. Briana's Law, which requires that every police officer and member of the State Police, including police officer trainees and state police cadets, receive CPR training prior to employment as well as during employment every two years, was named in her honor.
  • Gonzales v. WilliamsIsabel González was a Puerto Rican activist who helped pave the way for Puerto Ricans to be given United States citizenship. González challenged the Government of the United States in the groundbreaking case Gonzales v. Williams (192 U.S. 1 (1904)). Her Supreme Court case is the first time that the Court confronted the citizenship status of inhabitants of territories acquired by the United States. González actively pursued the cause of U.S. citizenship for all Puerto Ricans by writing letters published in The New York Times.
  • Mendez v. WestminsterFelicitas Gomez Mendez was a pioneer of the American civil rights movement. In 1946, Mendez and her husband led an educational civil rights battle that changed California and set an important legal precedent for ending de jure segregation in the United States. Their landmark desegregation case, known as Mendez v. Westminster, paved the way for meaningful integration, public school reform, and the American civil rights movement.

Law enforcement

Nick Estavillo
  • Nicholas Estavillo, NYPD Chief of Patrol (Ret.); in 2002, became first Puerto Rican and first Hispanic in the history of the NYPD to reach the three-star rank of Chief of Patrol
  • Faith Evans, Hawaiian-Puerto Rican, first woman to be named U.S. Marshal
  • Alejandro González Malavé, controversial undercover police officer
  • Irma Lozada, New York City transit police; first female police officer to die in the line of duty in New York City
  • José Meléndez-Pérez, INS officer who was named in 9/11 Commission Report; denied entry to terrorist in August 2001
  • Benito Romano, United States Attorney in New York; first Puerto Rican to hold the United States Attorney's post in New York on an interim basis
  • Joe Sánchez, former New York City police officer and author whose books give an insight as to the corruption within the department
  • Pedro Toledo, retired FBI senior agent and longest-serving state police superintendent
  • Alex Villanueva, Los Angeles County Sheriff

Firefighters

  • Raúl Gándara-Cartagena, first and longest-serving Commonwealth fire chief in Puerto Rico, 1942–1972
  • Carlos M. Rivera, former Fire Commissioner of the City of New York; first Hispanic commissioner in the New York City Fire Department's 127-year history

Military

Rafael O’Ferrall
Lizbeth Robles
Frances M. Vega
Brigadier General Marta Carcana
Brigadier General Irene M. Zoppi

16th century

17th century

  • Juan de Amézqueta, Captain, Puerto Rican Militia; defeated Captain Balduino Enrico (Boudewijn Hendricksz), who in 1625 was ordered by the Dutch to capture Puerto Rico

18th century

  • Rafael Conti, Colonel, Spanish Army; in 1790, captured 11 enemy ships involved in smuggling stolen goods. In 1797, he helped defeat Sir Ralph Abercromby and defend Puerto Rico from a British invasion in his hometown, Aguadilla. In 1809, he organized a military expedition fight with the aim of returning Hispaniola, which now comprise the nations of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, back to Spanish rule.
  • Antonio de los Reyes Correa, Captain, Spanish Army; Puerto Rican hero who defended the town Arecibo in 1702 from an invasion by defeating the British; was awarded La Medalla de Oro de la Real Efigie (The Gold Medal of the Royal Image), by King Philip V of Spain and given the title "Captain of Infantry"
  • José and Francisco Díaz, Sergeants, Puerto Rican militia; cousins in the Toa Baja Militia who helped defeat Sir Ralph Abercromby and defend Puerto Rico from a British invasion in 1797
  • Miguel Henríquez, Captain, Spanish Navy; in 1713, defeated the British in Vieques and was awarded the La Medalla de Oro de la Real Efigie (The Gold Medal of the Royal Effigy)

19th century

20th century

  • Ricardo Aponte, Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force; former Director of the Innovation and Experimentation Directorate, United States Southern Command; first Puerto Rican to hold this position
  • Félix Arenas Gaspar, Captain, Spanish Army; posthumously awarded the Cruz Laureada de San Fernando (Laureate Cross of Saint Ferdinand – Spain's version of the Medal of Honor) for his actions in the Rif War
  • Joseph (José) B. Aviles Sr., CWO2, U.S. Coast Guard; on September 28, 1925, became the first Hispanic Chief Petty Officer in the United States Coast Guard; during World War II received a wartime promotion to Chief Warrant Officer, becoming the first Hispanic to reach that level as well
  • Rafael Celestino Benítez, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy; a highly decorated submarine commander who led the rescue effort of the crew members of the USS Cochino, which was involved in the first American undersea spy mission of the Cold War
  • Carlos Betances Ramírez, Colonel, U.S. Army; first Puerto Rican to command a battalion in the Korean War; in 1952, he assumed the command of the 2nd Battalion, 65th Infantry Regiment
  • José M. Cabanillas, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy; in World War II he was Executive Officer of the USS Texas (BB-35) and participated in the invasions of Africa and Normandy (D-Day)
  • Richard Carmona, Vice Admiral, Public Health Service Commissioned Corps; served as the 17th Surgeon General of the United States under President George W. Bush
  • Modesto Cartagena, Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army; the most decorated Hispanic soldier in history; distinguished himself in combat during the Korean War as a member of Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry and is being considered for the Medal of Honor
  • Carlos Fernando Chardón, Major General, Puerto Rico National Guard; Secretary of State of Puerto Rico 1969–73; Puerto Rico Adjutant General 1973–75
  • Felix M. Conde-Falcon, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army; received the Medal of Honor posthumously on March 18, 2014, for his courageous actions while serving as an acting Platoon Leader in Company D, 1st Battalion, 505th Infantry Regiment, 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Ap Tan Hoa, Republic of Vietnam on April 4, 1969
  • Carmen Contreras-Bozak, Tech4, U.S. Women's Army Corps; first Hispanic to serve in the U.S. Women's Army Corps; served as an interpreter and in numerous administrative positions during World War II
  • Virgilio N. Cordero Jr., Brigadier General, U.S. Army; a Battalion Commander of the 31st Infantry Regiment who documented his experiences as a prisoner of war and his participation in the infamous Bataan Death March of World War II.
  • Juan César Cordero Dávila, Major General, U.S. Army; commanding officer of the 65th Infantry Regiment during the Korean War, thus becoming one of the highest ranking ethnic officers in the Army
  • Encarnación Correa, Sergeant, U.S. Army; the person who fired the first warning shots in World War I on behalf of the United States against a ship flying the colors of the Central Powers, when on March 21, 1915, under the orders of then-Lieutenant Teófilo Marxuach, he manned a machine gun and opened fire on the Odenwald, an armed German supply ship trying to force its way out of the San Juan Bay
  • Ruben A. Cubero, Brigadier General U.S. Air Force; of Puerto Rican descent; highly decorated member of the United States Air Force; in 1991 became the first Hispanic graduate of the United States Air Force Academy to be named Dean of the Faculty of the Academy
  • Pedro del Valle, Lieutenant General, U.S. Marine Corps; first Hispanic three-star Marine general; his military career included service in World War I, Haiti and Nicaragua during the so-called Banana Wars of the 1920s, and in the seizure of Guadalcanal and later as Commanding General of the U.S. 1st Marine Division during World War II played an instrumental role in the defeat of the Japanese forces in Okinawa
  • Carmelo Delgado Delgado, Lieutenant, Abraham Lincoln International Brigade; first Puerto Rican and one of the first U.S. citizens to fight and to die in the Spanish Civil War against General Francisco Franco and the Spanish Nationalists
  • Alberto Díaz Jr., Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy; first Hispanic to become the Director of the San Diego Naval Medical District
  • Luis R. Esteves, Major General, U.S. Army; in 1915, became the first Puerto Rican and therefore the first Hispanic to graduate from the United States Military Academy; organized the Puerto Rican National Guard
  • Salvador E. Felices, Major General, U.S. Air Force; first Puerto Rican general in the U.S. Air Force; in 1953, he flew in 19 combat missions over North Korea during the Korean War; in 1957, he participated in a historic project that was given to Fifteenth Air Force by the Strategic Air Command headquarters known as "Operation Power Flite", the first around the world non-stop flight by all-jet aircraft
  • Michelle Fraley (née Hernández), Colonel, U.S. Army; became in 1984 the first Puerto Rican woman to graduate from West Point Military Academy; former chief of staff of the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command
  • Rose Franco, CWO3, U.S. Marine Corps; first female Hispanic Chief Warrant Officer in the Marine Corps; in 1965 was named Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, Paul Henry Nitze by the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson
  • Edmund Ernest García, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy; during World War II he was commander of the destroyer USS Sloat (DE-245) and saw action in the invasions of Africa, Sicily, and France
  • Fernando Luis García, Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps; first Puerto Rican awarded the Medal of Honor; posthumously awarded the medal for his actions against enemy aggressor forces in the Korean War on September 5, 1952.
  • Linda Garcia Cubero, Captain, U.S. Air Force; of Mexican-Puerto Rican heritage; in 1980 became the first female Hispanic graduate of any of the U.S. military academies when she graduated from the United States Air Force Academy
  • Carmen García Rosado, Private First Class, U.S. Women's Army Corps; was among the first 200 Puerto Rican women to be recruited into the WAC's during World War II; author of LAS WACS-Participacion de la Mujer Boricua en la Segunda Guerra Mundial (The WACs – The participation of the Puerto Rican women in the Second World War), the first book which documents the experiences of the first 200 Puerto Rican women to participate in said conflict as members of the armed forces of the United States
  • Mihiel Gilormini, Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force; World War II hero, recipient of 5 Distinguished Flying Crosses; together with Brig. General Alberto A. Nido and Lt. Col. Jose Antonio Muñiz, founded the Puerto Rico Air National Guard; previously flew for the Royal Canadian Air Force (1941) and the Royal Air Force (1941–1942)
  • Manuel Goded Llopis, General, Spanish Army; a Puerto Rican in the Spanish Army; one of the first generales to join General Francisco Franco in the revolt against the Spanish Republican government (also known as Spanish loyalists) in the Spanish Civil War; previously distinguished himself in the Battle of Alhucemas of the Rif War
  • César Luis González, First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Force; first Puerto Rican pilot in the United States Army Air Force; first Puerto Rican pilot to die in World War II.
  • Diego E. Hernández, Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy; first Hispanic to be named Vice Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command; flew two combat tours in Vietnam during the Vietnam War; in 1980, took command of the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67)
  • Haydee Javier Kimmich, Captain, U.S. Navy; highest ranking Hispanic female in the Navy; Chief of Orthopedics at the Navy Medical Center in Bethesda and she reorganized Reservist Department of the medical center during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm
  • Orlando Llenza, Major General, U.S. Air Force; second Puerto Rican to reach the rank of Major General (two-star General) in the United States Air Force; Adjutant General of the Puerto Rico National Guard
  • Carlos Lozada, Private First Class, U.S. Army; posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on November 20, 1967, at Dak To in the Republic of Vietnam
  • Carmen Lozano Dumler, 2nd Lieutenant, U.S. Women's Army Corps; one of the first Puerto Rican women Army officers; in 1944, she was sworn in as a 2nd Lieutenant and assigned to the 161st General Hospital in San Juan
  • Antonio Maldonado, Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force; in 1965, became the youngest person to pilot a B-52 aircraft; his active participation in the Vietnam War included 183 air combat missions
  • Joseph (José) R. Martínez, Private First Class, U.S. Army; destroyed a German Infantry unit and tank in Tuniz by providing heavy artillery fire, saving his platoon from being attacked in the process; received the Distinguished Service Cross from General George S. Patton, becoming the first Puerto Rican recipient of said military decoration
  • Lester Martínez López, MPH, Major General, U.S. Army; first Hispanic to head the Army Medical and Research Command
  • Gilberto José Marxuach, Colonel, U.S. Army
  • Teófilo Marxuach, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army; fired a hostile shot from a cannon located at the Santa Rosa battery of El Morro fort, in what is considered to be the first shot of World War I fired by the regular armed forces of the United States against any ship flying the colors of the Central Powers, forcing the Odenwald to stop and to return to port where its supplies were confiscated
  • George E. Mayer, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy; first Hispanic Commander of the Naval Safety Center; led an international naval exercise known as Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2003 from his flagship, the USS Vella Gulf (CG-72); this was the first time in the 31-year history of BALTOPS that the exercise included combined ground troops from Russia, Poland, Denmark and the United States
  • Angel Mendez, Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps; of Puerto Rican descent; was awarded the Navy Cross in Vietnam and is being considered for the Medal of Honor; saved the life of his lieutenant, Ronald D. Castille, who went on to become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
  • Enrique Méndez Jr., Major General, U.S. Army; first Puerto Rican to assume the positions of Army Deputy Surgeon General, Commander of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs
  • Virgil R. Miller, Colonel, U.S. Army; Regimental Commander of the 442d Regimental Combat Team (RCT), a unit which was composed of "Nisei" (second generation Americans of Japanese descent), during World War II; led the 442nd in its rescue of the Lost Texas Battalion of the 36th Infantry Division, in the forests of the Vosges Mountains in northeastern France
  • José Antonio Muñiz Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force; together with then-Colonels Alberto A. Nido and Mihiel Gilormini, founded the Puerto Rico Air National Guard; in 1963, the Air National Guard Base, at the San Juan International airport in Puerto Rico, was renamed "Muñiz Air National Guard Base" in his honor
  • William A. Navas Jr., Major General, U.S. Army; first Puerto Rican named Assistant Secretary of the Navy; a veteran of the Vietnam War; nominated in 2001 by President George W. Bush to serve as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs)
  • Juan E. Negrón, Master Sergeant, U.S. Army; received the Medal of Honor posthumously on March 18, 2014, for courageous actions while serving as a member of Company L, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Kalma-Eri, Korea, on April 28, 1951
  • Héctor Andrés Negroni, Colonel, U.S. Air Force; first Puerto Rican graduate of the United States Air Force Academy; a veteran of the Vietnam War; was awarded the Aeronautical Merit Cross, Spai'ns highest Air Force peacetime award for his contributions to the successful implementation of the United States-Spain Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation
  • Alberto A. Nido, Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force; a World War II war hero who together with Lt. Col. Jose Antonio Muñiz, co-founded the Puerto Rico Air National Guard and served as its commander for many years; served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, the British Royal Air Force and in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II
  • Jorge Otero Barreto, Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army; with 38 decorations, which includes 3 Silver Star Medals, 5 Bronze Star Medals with Valor, 4 Army Commendation medals, 5 Purple Heart Medals and 5 Air Medals, has been called the most decorated U.S. soldier of the Vietnam War
  • Dolores Piñero, U.S. Army Medical Corps; despite the fact that she was not an active member of the military, she was the first Puerto Rican woman doctor to serve in the Army under contract during World War I; at first she was turned down, but after writing a letter to the Army Surgeon General in Washington, D.C. she was ordered to report to Camp Las Casas in Santurce, Puerto Rico; in October 1918, she signed her contract with the Army.
  • José M. Portela, Brigadier General U.S. Air Force; served in the position of Assistant Adjutant General for Air while also serving as commander of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard; in 1972, became the youngest C-141 Starlifter aircraft commander and captain at age 22; the only reservist ever to serve as director of mobility forces for Bosnia
  • Marion Frederic Ramírez de Arellano, Captain, U.S. Navy; first Hispanic submarine commander; awarded two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for his actions against the Japanese Imperial Navy during World War II
  • Antonio J. Ramos, Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force; first Hispanic to serve as commander, Air Force Security Assistance Center, Air Force Materiel Command, and dual-hatted as Assistant to the Commander for International Affairs, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command
  • Agustín Ramos Calero, Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army; with 22 military decorations, was the most decorated soldier in all of the United States during World War II
  • Fernando L. Ribas-Dominicci, Major, U.S. Air Force; one of the pilots who participated in the Libyan air raid as member of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing; his F-111F was shot down in action over the disputed Gulf of Sidra off the Libyan coast. Ribas-Dominicci and his weapons systems officer, Capt. Paul Lorence, were the only U.S. casualties of Operation El Dorado Canyon
  • Frederick Lois Riefkohl, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy; born Luis Federico Riefkohl Jaimieson; one of the first Puerto Ricans to graduate from the United States Naval Academy; in World War I became the first Puerto Rican to be awarded the Navy Cross
  • Rudolph W. Riefkohl, Colonel, U.S. Army; played an instrumental role in helping the people of Poland overcome the 1919 typhus epidemic
  • Demensio Rivera, Private, U.S. Army; received the Medal of Honor posthumously on March 18, 2014, for his courageous actions while serving as an automatic rifleman with 2d Platoon, Company G, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Changyong-ni, Korea on May 23, 1951
  • Manuel Rivera Jr., Captain, U.S. Marine Corps; of Puerto Rican descent; first U.S. serviceman to die in Operation Desert Shield
  • Pedro N. Rivera, Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force; in 1994, became the first Hispanic to be named medical commander in the Air Force; responsible for the provision of health care to more than 50,000 patients
  • Horacio Rivero, Admiral, U.S. Navy; in 1964, became the first Puerto Rican and second Hispanic Admiral (four-star) in the U.S. Navy; participated in World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War; commander in 1962 of the American fleet sent by President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis to set up a quarantine (blockade) of the Soviet ships in an effort to stop the Cold War from escalating into World War III
  • Pedro Rodríguez, Master Sergeant, U.S. Army; member of Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry; earned two Silver Stars within a seven-day period during the Korean War
  • Antonio Rodríguez Balinas, Brigadier General, U.S. Army; first commander of the Office of the First U.S. Army Deputy Command; during the Korean War he fought with Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry Regiment and was awarded the Silver Star
  • Fernando E. Rodríguez Vargas, Major, U.S. Army; odontologist (dentist), scientist and a Major in the U.S. Army who in 1921 discovered the bacteria which causes dental caries
  • Eurípides Rubio, Captain, U.S. Army; posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Tây Ninh Province in the Republic of Vietnam on November 8, 1966
  • Héctor Santiago-Colón, Specialist Four, U.S. Army; posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Quảng Trị Province, Vietnam as member of Company B of the 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division
  • Antulio Segarra, Colonel, U.S. Army; in 1943, became the first Puerto Rican Regular Army officer to command a Regular Army Regiment when he assumed the command of Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry Regiment, which was conducting security missions in the jungles of Panama
  • Miguel A. Vera, Private, U.S. Army; was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his courageous actions while serving as an automatic rifleman with Company F, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2d Infantry Division in Chorwon, Korea, on September 21, 1952
  • Humbert Roque Versace, Captain, U.S. Army; of Italian and Puerto Rican descent; posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions while a prisoner of war (POW) during the Vietnam War; first member of the U.S. Army to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions performed in Southeast Asia while in captivity
  • Raúl G. Villaronga, Colonel, U.S. Army; first Puerto Rican to be elected as Mayor of a Texas city (Killeen)

21st century

  • Marta Carcana, Major General, U.S. Army; in 2015, became the first woman to be named Adjutant General of the Puerto Rican National Guard
  • Iván Castro, Captain, U.S. Army; of Puerto Rican descent; one of three blind active-duty officers who serves in the US Army; the only blind officer serving in the United States Army Special Forces
  • Hilda I. Ortiz Clayton, Specialist, U.S. Army, was a combat photographer killed in 2013 when a mortar exploded during an Afghan training exercise; she was able to photograph the explosion that killed her and four Afghan soldiers. The 55th Signal Company named their annual competitive award for combat camera work "The Spc. Hilda I. Clayton Best Combat Camera (COMCAM) Competition" in her honor.
  • Ramón Colón-López, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman, U.S. Air Force; a pararescueman; on June 13, 2007, was the first and only Hispanic among the first six airmen to be awarded the Air Force Combat Action Medal; Commandant of the Pararescue and Combat Rescue Officer School
  • Olga E. Custodio, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force; first female Hispanic U.S. military pilot; first Latina to complete U.S. Air Force military pilot training; after retiring, became the first Latina commercial airline captain
  • Emilio Díaz Colón, Major General, U.S. Army; PRNG; first Superintendent of the Puerto Rican Police; served as the Adjutant General of the Puerto Rican National Guard
  • Rafael O'Ferrall, Brigadier General, U.S. Army; first Hispanic and person of Puerto Rican descent to become the Deputy Commanding General for the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo, Cuba while simultaneously serving as Assistant Adjutant General (Army) and Deputy Commanding General of the Joint Force Headquarters at San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • María Inés Ortiz, Captain, U.S. Army; of Puerto Rican descent; first United States Army nurse to die in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the first to die in combat since the Vietnam War
  • Hector E. Pagan, Brigadier General, U.S. Army; first Hispanic of Puerto Rican descent to become Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina
  • Maritza Sáenz Ryan, Colonel, U.S. Army; of Puerto Ricana and Spanish descent; head of the Department of Law at the United States Military Academy; first woman and first Hispanic (Puerto Rican and Spanish heritage) West Point graduate to serve as an academic department head; the most senior ranking Hispanic Judge Advocate
  • Marc H. Sasseville, Major General, U.S. Air Force; Puerto Rican mother; on September 11, 2001, was acting operations group commander under the 113th Wing of the DC Air National Guard; one of four fighter pilots commissioned with finding and destroying United Flight 93 by any means necessary, including ramming the aircraft in midair
  • Noel Zamot, Colonel, U.S. Air Force, a native of Rio Piedras, was the first Hispanic commandant of the Air Force's elite Test Pilot School. He is also a former combat and test aviator with over 1900 hours in B-52, B-1B, B-2A, F-16D and over 20 other aircraft.
  • Irene M. Zoppi, Brigadier General, U.S. Army; first Puerto Rican woman to reach the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Army; Deputy Commanding General – Support under the 200th Military Police Command at Fort Meade, Maryland; Bronze Star Medal recipient

Physicians, scientists and inventors

Agustin Stahl
Fermín Tangüis
Joseph Acaba
Antonia Novello – Surgeon General of the United States
Joxel García – Assistant Secretary of Health for President George W. Bush
Olga D. González-Sanabria – member of the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame
  • Joseph M. Acaba, scientist, educator, first Puerto Rican astronaut
  • Carlos Albizu Miranda, psychologist; first Hispanic educator to have a North American university renamed in his honor; one of the first Hispanics to earn a PhD in psychology in the U.S.
  • Ricardo Alegría, anthropologist, archaeologist and educator; "father of modern Puerto Rican archaeology"
  • Jorge N. Amely Vélez, electrical engineer and inventor; holds various patents in the field of medical technology
  • Bailey K. Ashford, author, physician, soldier, and parasitologist; Colonel in the U.S. Army, arrived in Puerto Rico during the Spanish–American War and made the island his home; organized and conducted a parasite treatment campaign which cured approximately 300,000 people (one-third of the Puerto Rico population) and reduced the death rate from this anemia by 90 percent
  • Pedro Beauchamp, surgeon; first Puerto Rican specialist certified by the American Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Board; performed the first in vitro fertilization technique on the island in 1985
  • Víctor Manuel Blanco, astronomer; in 1959, discovered a "Blanco 1", a galactic cluster; second Director of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, which has the largest 4-m telescope in the Southern Hemisphere; in 1995, the telescope was dedicated in his honor as the "Víctor M. Blanco Telescope", also known as the "Blanco 4m"
  • Rafael L. Bras, former chair of Civil Engineering at MIT; leading expert on hydrometeorology and global warming
  • Anthony M. Busquets, electronic engineer, aerospace technologist; involved in the development and application of multifunction control/display switch technology in 1983 and development and application of a microprocessor-based I/O system for simulator use in 1984
  • Carlos E. Chardón, a.k.a. the "father of mycology in Puerto Rico"; first Puerto Rican mycologist; discovered the aphid "Aphis maidis", the vector of the mosaic of sugar cane, in 1922; author of the Chardón Plan; first Puerto Rican to hold the position of Chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico
  • Nitza Margarita Cintron, scientist; Chief of NASA's (JSC) Space and Health Care Systems Office
  • Pablo Clemente-Colon, first Puerto Rican Chief Scientist of the National Ice Center (2005–present)
  • Antonia Coello Novello, physician; first Hispanic and first woman U.S. Surgeon General (1990–93)
  • Martín Corchado (born 1839), physician, medical researcher, and president of the Autonomist Party of Puerto Rico
  • José F. Cordero, pediatrician; founding director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the CDC
  • Milagros J. Cordero, pediatrician; founder and President of Team Therapy Services For Children
  • María Cordero Hardy, physiologist, educator and scientist; did important research on vitamin E
  • Juan R. Correa-Pérez, scientist; first clinical andrologist and embryologist in Puerto Rico
  • Juan R. Cruz, NASA scientist, played an instrumental role in the design and development of the Mars Exploration Rover parachute
  • Carlos Del Castillo, NASA scientist; Program Scientist for the Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry Program at NASA; recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers award, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers
  • Manuel de la Pila Iglesias, multi-faceted physician; introduced the first EKG and X-ray machines into Puerto Rico; founded a medical clinic which today houses a respected medical center in Ponce
  • Alfonso Eaton, mechanical engineer, aerospace technologist; first Puerto Rican to work for NASA
  • Enectalí Figueroa-Feliciano, astronaut applicant and astrophysicist with NASA; pioneered the development of position-sensitive detectors
  • Orlando Figueroa, mechanical engineer at NASA; former Director for Mars Exploration and the Director for the Solar System Division in the Office of Space Science; now Director, Applied Engineering & Technology at the NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center; as Director of Engineering he manages the full scope of engineering activities at Goddard
  • Adolfo Figueroa-Viñas, first Puerto Rican astrophysicist at NASA working in solar plasma physics; senior research scientist; involved in many NASA missions such as Wind, SOHO, Cluster and MMS projects
  • José N. Gándara, lead physician attending to the wounded of the Ponce massacre and later an expert witness at the trials of the "Nacionalistas" as well as before the Hays Commission; held numerous government positions, including Secretary of Health of Puerto Rico; co-founded the Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico
  • Joxel García, first Puerto Rican Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Admiral in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
  • Mario García Palmieri, cardiologist; first Hispanic to be designated a "Master" by the American College of Cardiology
  • Sixto González, scientist; first Puerto Rican Director of the Arecibo Observatory, with the world's largest single dish radio telescope
  • Rosa A. González, registered nurse; founded the Association of Registered Nurses of Puerto Rico; wrote various books related to her field in which she denounced the discrimination against women and nurses in Puerto Rico[clarification needed]
  • Isaac González Martínez, urologist; first Puerto Rican urologist; pioneer in the fight against cancer in the island
  • Olga D. González-Sanabria, NASA engineer; highest ranking Hispanic at NASA Glenn Research Center; member of the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame
  • Amri Hernández-Pellerano, NASA engineer; designs, builds and tests the electronics that regulate the solar array power at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Gloria Hernandez, physical scientist, aerospace technologist; Science Manager for the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment at NASA Langley Research Center; her supersonic aerodynamic research has resulted in economic advances in supersonic flight
  • Lucas G. Hortas, aerospace engineer and technologist; author and or co-author of over 35 technical papers
  • Chris Kubecka (full name Christina Kubecka de Medina), a Computer Scientist specialist in cyberwarfare, established international business operations for Saudi Aramco after the world's most devastating Shamoon cyber warfare attacks. Detected and helped halt the second wave of July 2009 cyberattacks cyberwar attacks against South Korea.
  • Ramón E. López, physicist; professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Texas at Arlington; Fellow of the American Physical Society; recipient of the 2002 Nicholson Medal for Humanitarian Service; co-authored a book on space weather, Storms from the Sun
  • Fernando López Tuero, agricultural scientist and agronomist; discovered the bug (believed at first to be a germ) which was destroying Puerto Rico's sugar canes
  • Carlos A. Liceaga, electronic engineer, aerospace technologist; leads the development of proposal guidelines, and the technical, management, and cost evaluation of the proposals For the Explorer Program
  • Ariel Lugo, scientist and ecologist; Director of the International Institute of Tropical Forestry in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, based in Puerto Rico; founding member of the Society for Ecological Restoration; member-at-large of the Board of the Ecological Society of America
  • Debbie Martínez, computer engineer, aerospace technologist; Flight Systems and Software Branch software manager for the Cockpit Motion Facility at NASA Langley Research Center
  • Lissette Martinez, electronic engineer, rocket scientist; lead electrical engineer for the Space Experiment Module program at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility
  • Manuel Martínez Maldonado, nephrologist, educator; author of numerous scientific publications; discovered a natriuretic hormone
  • Antonio Mignucci, marine biologist, oceanographer; founder of "Red Caribeña de Varamientos"
  • Carlos Ortiz Longo, NASA engineer and scientist, and pilot
  • Joseph O. Prewitt Díaz, psychologist; specialized in psychosocial theory; recipient of the American Psychological Association's 2008 International Humanitarian Award
  • Mercedes Reaves, research engineer and scientist; responsible for the design of a viable full-scale solar sail and the development and testing of a scale model solar sail at NASA Langley Research Center
  • Ron Rivera, inventor and workshop organizer; invented life-saving water filters based on pottery
  • Juan A. Rivero, scientist and educator; founded the Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo in Mayagüez, has discovered numerous animal species; author of several books
  • Miriam Rodon-Naveira, NASA scientist; first Hispanic woman to hold the Deputy Directorship for the Environmental Sciences Division in the National Exposure Research Laboratory
  • Miguel Rodríguez, mechanical engineer; Chief of the Integration Office of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport Management Office
  • Pedro Rodriguez, inventor, mechanical engineer; director of a test laboratory at NASA; invented a portable, battery-operated lift seat for people suffering from knee arthritis
  • Helen Rodriguez-Trias, physician and activist; first Latina president of the American Public Health Association; a founding member of the Women's Caucus of the American Public Health Association; recipient of the Presidential Citizen's Medal
  • Fernando E. Rodríguez Vargas, dental scientist; discovered the bacteria which causes dental cavities
  • Monserrate Roman, scientist, microbiologist; helped build the International Space Station
  • Gualberto Ruaño, biotechnology pioneer and founder of Genomas, Inc.; pioneer in the field of personalized medicine; inventor of a system used worldwide for the management of viral diseases; President and founder of Genomas, a genetics-related company; director of genetics research at Hartford Hospital's Genetic Research Center
  • José Francisco Salgado, Emmy-nominated astronomer, visual artist, and science communicator; former astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago; member of the audiovisual ensemble Bailey-Salgado Project
  • Ulises Armand Sanabria, of Puerto Rican and French descent; developed mechanical televisions and early terrestrial television broadcasts
  • Eduardo Santiago Delpín, surgeon; wrote the first book in Spanish about organ transplants
  • Yajaira Sierra Sastre, astronaut; part of a NASA project on astronaut nutrition and health; She will live for four months isolated in a planetary module at a base in Hawaii to simulate life at a future base on Mars
  • Diego R. Solís, physician; performed the first simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant in Puerto Rico
  • Félix Soto Toro, electrical engineer, astronaut applicant; developed the Advanced Payload Transfer Measurement System (ASPTMS), an electronic 3D measuring system
  • Agustín Stahl, scientist in the fields of botany, ethnology and zoology
  • Ramón M. Suárez Calderon, scientist, cardiologist, educator and hematologist; his investigations led to the identification of the proper and effective treatment of a type of anemia known as Tropical Espru, the application of complex methods, such as electrocardiography and radioisotope, to be used in clinics and the identification and treatment of the disease which causes heart rheumatism
  • Fermín Tangüis, scientist, agriculturist and entrepreneur; developed the Tanguis cotton in Peru and saved that nation's cotton industry
  • Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, television and radio host; Puerto Rican mother; director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City; host of the PBS series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage

Politicians

José de Diego – the "father of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement"
Federico Degetau – writer, author, and resident commissioner
Pedro Albizu Campos – President and principal leader of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party
Nydia Velázquez – Congresswoman from New York City
Luis Gutiérrez – Congressman from Chicago
Kenneth McClintock – Secretary of State of Puerto Rico
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, representing parts of The Bronx and Queens, is the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress in November 2018.

19th century

20th century

21st century

Sports

Orlando Cepeda – MLB first baseman, second Puerto Rican in Baseball Hall of Fame
José Juan Barea – professional basketball player with the Dallas Mavericks
Edgar Martínez – MLB player with the Seattle Mariners
Iván Rodríguez – MLB catcher for the Washington Nationals
Alfredo L. EscaleraKansas City Royals outfielder; youngest player ever drafted
Monica Puig – Olympic gold medalist
Juan Evangelista Venegas – Olympic medalist

A

B

C

  • Iván Calderón, baseball player
  • Iván Calderón, boxer, world champion
  • Hector 'Macho' Camacho, boxer, former world champion and member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame
  • Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, hurdles, won Puerto Rico's second Olympic Gold Medal in the Women's 100m Hurdles in the Olympic games which were celebrated in Tokyo, Japan.
  • Fernando J. Canales, swimmer, first Puerto Rican to reach final championships
  • Pedro Miguel Caratini, baseball player; born in Puerto Rico, "the father of Dominican baseball"
  • Orlando Cepeda, baseball player, member of Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Pedro Anibal Cepeda a.k.a. "Perucho" and "The Bull", baseball player; father of Orlando Cepeda; known as "the Babe Ruth of Puerto Rico"
  • Nero Chen, Puerto Rico's first professional boxer
  • Julie Chu, Olympic ice hockey player; forward on the U.S. women's ice hockey team; of Chinese and Puerto Rican descent
  • Alex Cintrón, former professional baseball infielder and current hitting coach for the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball
  • Conchita Cintrón, bullfighter (Puerto Rican father)
  • Kermit Cintrón, boxer, former International Boxing Federation welterweight champion (2006–08)
  • Roberto Clemente, 3,000-hit baseball player, first Puerto Rican member of Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Rebekah Colberg, known as "the mother of Puerto Rican women's sports"; participated in various athletic competitions in the 1938 Central American and Caribbean Games in Panama, where she won gold medals in discus and javelin throw
  • Carlitos Colon, former professional wrestler and member of the WWE Hall of Fame
  • Carly Colón, professional wrestler
  • Alex Cora, became the first Puerto Rican to manage a World Series winning team when the Boston Red Sox defeated the LA Dodgers in 2018.
  • Ángel Cordero Jr., jockey, member of Jockey Hall of Fame
  • Carlos Correa, first pick of the 2012 MLB Draft; 2015 AL Rookie of the Year
  • Maritza Correia, first Afro-Puerto Rican female on the U.S. Olympic swimming team
  • Joe Cortez, boxing referee; member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame
  • Carla Cortijo, basketball player, first Puerto Rican-born woman to play in the WNBA; guard for the Atlanta Dream
  • Miguel Cotto, professional boxer, former light welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight world champion
  • Eva Cruz, volleyball player
  • José "Cheo" Cruz, baseball player whose number was retired by the Astros
  • Orlando Cruz, boxer; first professional boxer to publicly announce he is gay
  • Teófilo Cruz, basketball player
  • Victor Cruz, NFL football player
  • Javier Culson, Olympic athlete; bronze medalist; specialises in the 400 metre hurdles

D

E

F

  • Gigi Fernández, tennis player, in 1992 became the first female athlete from her native Puerto Rico win an Olympic gold medal; first female athlete from Puerto Rico to turn professional; first Puerto Rican woman inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame
  • Lisa Fernandez, softball player, Olympic gold medalist (Puerto Rican mother)
  • Orlando Fernández a.k.a. "the Puerto Rican Aquaman"; swimmer; first Puerto Rican to swim across the Strait of Gibraltar
  • Ed Figueroa, baseball pitcher, first Puerto Rican to win 20 games in Major League
  • Enrique Figueroa, sailing

G

H

J

  • Reggie Jackson, baseball player, member of Baseball Hall of Fame (Puerto Rican father)

K

L

M

N

O

  • Luis Olmo, first Puerto Rican to hit a home run in the World Series
  • Fres Oquendo, professional boxer
  • John Orozco, Olympic gymnast
  • Carlos Ortiz, boxer, former, junior welterweight and lightweight champion; member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame
  • José Ortiz, former basketball player, PDP candidate for elective office in 2008
  • Luis Ortiz, boxer, first Puerto Rican to win a silver Olympic medal

P

Q

  • Carlos Quintana, professional boxer, former World Boxing Organization's welterweight champion

R

S

T

V

W

Taínos

Agüeybaná II (The Brave)

Visual artists

José Campeche
Francisco Oller

Miscellaneous

Gallery

See also

Bibliography