Ramírez y Blanco, Alejandro (1777–1821)

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Ramírez y Blanco, Alejandro (1777–1821)

Alejandro Ramírezy Blanco (b. 25 February 1777; d. 20 May 1821), Intendant of Puerto Rico (1813–1816) and of Cuba (1816–1821). Born in Alaejos, Spain, and educated in Valladolid and at the University of Alcalá de Henares, Ramírez immigrated to Guatemala in 1795. He became secretary to the consulado in 1798 and to the captain-general in 1802. For his work as a member of the economic society and as editor of its newspaper, he was the only Latin American of his time named a member of the American Philosophical Society.

In Havana on 14 December 1812, he took the oath as intendant of Puerto Rico. He found a bankrupt colony and began reformation of its tax structure and diversification of its economy. He retired an inflationary issue of paper money, founded an economic society and edited its newspaper, and opened vocational schools for women and night schools for artisans. Despite efforts from peninsular officials to thwart his reforms, the island became self-sufficient during his tenure.

On 3 July 1816, he became superintendent of Cuba and intendant of Havana and pursued his policies of economic diversification and tax reform, doubling royal revenues by 1820. Recognizing the problems of monoculture, he introduced new crops to be utilized by small landowners. He obtained abolition of the tobacco monopoly, thus invigorating the industry. He also created a school of chemistry and a botanical garden and school of botany, and his efforts led to public education programs and support of charitable institutions for women and orphans. Due to opposition from sugar interests and peninsular Spaniards, he became the first colonial official to utilize the press to defend his actions. In early 1821, he accepted appointment as jefe político of Guatemala, but he died before leaving Cuba.

Ramírez showed that a liberal official, cooperating with creole interests, initiated outstanding successes utilizing Bourbon Reform policies. His legacy was the economic success in the colonies he served and a reputation for outstanding honesty.

See alsoCuba: The Colonial Era (1492–1898); Puerto Rico; Tobacco Industry; Tobacco Monopoly.


A brief overview of Ramírez's career can be found in Luis González Vales, "Towards a Plantation Society," in Puerto Rico: A Political and Cultural History, edited by Arturo Morales Carrión (1983). For a more thorough examination, see Luis González Vales, Alejandro Ramírez y su tiempo (1978), and M. Isidro Méndez, El Intendente Ramírez (1944).

                                 Jacquelyn Briggs Kent

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Ramírez y Blanco, Alejandro (1777–1821)

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