Besides his reputation for being one of the most enchanting islands of its deep blue Caribbean Sea and its luxuriant vegetation, the island had a pirate who became a legendary. Known as one of the bravest adventurers in the history of the small peninsula, the Puerto Rican pirate, whose name was Roberto Cofresí, was also the terror of the Caribbean waters.
Born on June 17, 1791, the coastal city of Cabo Rojo was his native town. At the age of four his mother died. The ocean became his best friend. Since he was a boy, Cofresí dreamed of becoming a great sailor, realizing his dream when he was a teenager by purchasing a small boat he named El Mozquito.
In 1818, Puerto Rico was going through hard economic times, deciding Cofresí to become a pirate to relieve the misery in the island. Even though the courageous, adventurer and overconfident sailor became a threat to the maritime commerce, he became famous for being very generous with the locals by sharing with them the goods he stole.
He began his pirate excursions, establishing a hideout in La Mona Island, a small key between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Within the years, he grew a crew of 15 sailors that helped him in his expeditions.
While Cofresí attacked European and American ships, considering it the Spaniard a benefit to them, they overlooked Cofresí’s assaults to his enemies. For seven years, the arrogant and young pirate successfully robbed ships from different countries. He disliked American sailors, mainly targeting his attacks to them.
Rebelling to how unfairly the Spanish were treating the Puerto Ricans, Cofresí started attacking Spanish ships too. The Spanish Crown along with Washington began to pressure the authorities to capture Cofresí.
The bright pirate Cofresí and his crew were able to continue their attacks, mugging commercial ships and hiding in La Mona. The people from the coast protected them from the authorities. In one occasion they were captured in the Dominican Republic and sentenced to six years in prison, but they were able to escape, running away for a while from the system until 1825, when they got captured. At 26 years old, Cofresí was imprisoned in San Felipe del Morro Fort, getting executed with 11 members of his crew on March 29 of 1825.
Different versions about the legendary pirate have been told; stating many people, he was the Puerto Rican Robin Hood. Other myths claim he sold his soul to the devil to be loved by women, defying anyone who would dare to challenge him. There are others who say he had supernatural powers, being able to make his ship disappear in the middle of a battle.
The most popular belief is that his treasure is hidden in a cave in Cabo Rojo. Even though no one has been able to find it yet, many people claim they have seen his spirit wandering through his native town. One thing everybody knows is that the soul of our Puerto Rican Robin Hood will be eternally protecting us from coastal enemies, guarding his treasure in the deep waters of our sea.