Borinquen Bella resident Marisol with Rompiendo Las Cadenas by John Pitman Weber

Muralist Hector Duarte at a recent outreach event with local high school students. He is describing his mural “Honor Boricua.”

Mural History

These murals are located on two of LUCHA’s affordable housing properties, known as Borinquen Bella in the West Town/Humboldt Park area.

Breaking the Chains “Rompiendo Las Cadenas” was originally painted by John Pitman Weber in 1971 and is one of the oldest surviving murals in the country ( The mural depicts the struggle for racial equality, survival and strong communities. It shows black, brown, and white hands breaking chains with the words injustice, poverty, racism, war and drugs written on the chains. Elements of the mural also tell the history of Humboldt Park, including the epidemic of arson fires against low-income families in the 1960s.

Muralist John Pitman Weber discussing his mural with local high school students

Honor Boricua was first painted by Hector Duarte in 1992.  The muralist interviewed long-time community members about their stories and ideas to develop the theme for the mural. It illustrates transnational and multicultural messages with intertwined images of Chicago and Old San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican flag. The images represent the ongoing exchange of culture, resources, and people between these two communities. These murals have been featured in a number of books and publications including Puerto Rican Chicago.

Honor Boricua by Hector Duarte

Mural Restoration

Breaking the Chains and Honor Boricua were already significantly weathered having survived decades of Chicago weather.  They would have been damaged further during the building restoration due to necessary tuckpointing and repairs to the brick.  LUCHA seized this opportunity to involve the community and work with the original artists to restore the murals for generations to come.

LUCHA hosted outreach events with the two muralists and students from Pritzker College Prep, UIC College Prep and Francis W. Parker School. Here are some of the students’ thoughts:

“Hard work and dedication always lead to success.  An example of this are the murals created by Hector and Mr. Weber.  As mentioned, the murals are a form of… speaking out without using words but by using paint and a brush.  They made a huge impact in the Humboldt Park area.”
– Katherine Serrano, UIC College Prep

“These murals aren’t just pictures, but they symbolize what the neighborhood has accomplished.  This group of people went from a bunch of neighbors or even strangers to an organization that has helped build buildings, keep houses and even give hope to others. Everytime people pass by the murals they are able to see how much of a difference people of all types of colors can make.”
– Andres Sanchez, Pritzker College Prep

“Honor Boricua” and “Rompiendo Cadenas” were restored by the original artists as part of the Borinquen Bella Restoration Project in Summer 2013 thanks to funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. LUCHA documented the process and is working on a short film with NanoPics Productions. Check out our teaser!

Borinquen Bella Mural Restoration Project Video Teaser

For more information on LUCHA’s Borinquen Bella mural restoration project, please contact James Miletello at or 773-276-5338 ext. 226.

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