The story

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor may not have been born in Puerto Rico, but friends and relatives say she is Puerto Rican through and through.

Her roots go back to the southwestern town of Lajas, a sleepy "pueblito" known as a gateway to the island's picturesque Caribbean coast, where Sotomayor's mother was born in 1927. They extend to nearby Mayaguez, a small city on the coast where many of Sotomayor's relatives live today.

"They grew up in an era of great poverty," Sotomayor's cousin, Jose "Tito" Baez Gonzalez, said of his and Sotomayor's parents. "Their lives were filled with struggles."

New York-born Sotomayor is the first Hispanic to be nominated to the Supreme Court. Friends and relatives credit some of her success to a working-class ethic inherited from her parents, who left Puerto Rico in search of a brighter future.

The impoverished Puerto Rico that Sotomayor's parents knew in the 1930s was vastly different from the mostly-Americanized island of today. Read full article »

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