Which Came First? The Cuban Flag or Puerto Rico’s Flag

Which Flag came first, Cuba or Puerto Rico?

Answer: The Cuban flag came first when it was designed in 1849 by Narciso López. Later, the flag of Puerto Rico was designed by Dr. Ramón Emeterio Betances in 1868.


With its five alternating stripes (three blue and two white), red equilateral triangle at the hoist, and white five-pointed star planted firmly in the middle, Cuba’s Flag is one of the two flags of a currently socialist country that does not use any communist symbolism. The other being Laos. As history would have it, the Cuban flag was designed in 1849 by Narciso López, a pro-independence exile living in New York City. Prior to being forced into exile in the United States, López had fought for the Spanish Crown against rebel armies of Venezuela, moving from his native Caracas to Havana, Cuba. Alongside López, the poet Miguel Teurbe Tolón helped design what came to be known as the modern-day Cuban Flag. The white was meant to represent the purity of ideals, the red triangle was a reference to the French revolution along with blood and courage, and believe it or not, the single star on the lefthand side was meant to be a hint to the United States that one more star should be added to the American Flag. There were certainly those on the island that favored annexation to the U.S. Ultimately, Emilia Teurbe Tolón, Miguel’s wife, ended up sewing together the first Cuban flag. Narciso López ended up using this exact same flag in 1850 to carry out his coup attempt to liberate Cuba from Spanish rule, which resulted in failure. The coastal town of Cardenas was the first town that saw the lone star flag hoisted on May 19, 1850, in the taking of the city by Cuban rebels.

Cuban Flag

Raising the Cuban flag on the Governor General’s Palace at noon on May 20, 1902




Almost two decades later, in April of 1869, Narciso López’s flag was designated the national banner by the Congress of the Republic of Cuba. López’s flag was the model for the flag of Puerto Rico adopted in 1892 by the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Committee. The Puerto Rican flag, which looks almost identical, can be traced back to 1868 however, when the first Puerto Rican flag, “The Revolutionary Flag of Lares”, was conceived by Dr. Ramón Emeterio Betances an independence advocate and Medical doctor. He was the primary instigator of the Grito de Lares revolution and is considered to be the father of the Puerto Rican independence movement. Subsequently, the flag was then sewn together by Mariana “Brazos de Oro” Bracetti a patriot and leader of the Puerto Rico independence movement in the 1860s. Near the end of the decade, on March 24, 1897, this new Puerto Rican Flag was flown for the first time, but it would be many years before the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico adopted the original flag design as its official standard. You see, from 1898 to 1952 the use and display of the Puerto Rican flag were outlawed by the United States. Ultimately, in 1952, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico adopted the flag.

Which Flag came first, Cuba or Puerto Rico?

The flag of Puerto Rico was flown for the first time in the island by Fidel Vélez and his men during the “Intentona de Yauco” revolt




While the two Flags look nearly identical and the Puerto Rican Flag certainly took traits from the Cuban Flag, there are differences between each, “Bandera“. The Puerto Rican flag consists of five equal horizontal bands of red (top and bottom) alternating with white and a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large, white, five-pointed star in the center. Meanwhile, the Cuban Flag uses three blue and two white equal horizontal stripes and a red equilateral triangle at the hoist with a five-pointed star. With that said, both flags were invented as a result of the Cuban and Puerto Rican peoples’ desire for independence from colonial rule.

Cuban Flag

Which Flag came first, Cuba or Puerto Rico?

The Cuban Flag (top) and Puerto Rican Flag (bottom).


Cover Photo: Photo by Ricardo Dominguez on Unsplash