Isabel Molina Rodríguez
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|La Honorable Primera Dama|
Isabel Juana Molina Rodríguez
November 20, 2005 – July 14, 2009
|President||Esteban Alejándrez Espino|
|Born||June 14, 1988|
Cupey, San Juan, Puerto Rico
|Died||July 14, 2009 (aged 21)|
Cupey, San Juan, Puerto Rico
|Political party||National Party|
|Spouse(s)||Esteban Alejándrez Espino|
|Children||Sebastián (b. 2004)|
Isabel Juana Molina Rodríguez (June 14, 1988 – July 14, 2009) was a Puerto Rican micronationalist and one of several founders of the Republic of Bermeja. As the wife of President Esteban Alejándrez Espino, she became the First Lady of Bermeja from November 20, 2005 until her death, aged 21, on July 14, 2009.
Her death was the first major disruption to the Bermejan community and had a profound impact on the politics of the micronation. Her husband and brother both withdrew from the project for prolonged periods of time; the latter permanently so. On July 24, 2009, the Chamber of Deputies passed a resolution permanently bestowing the title of Primera Dama (English, "First Lady") on Molina in recognition of her commitment to the micronation, and as a lasting tribute to her.
Foundation of Bermeja
Of all Los Fundadores ("The Founders"), Molina was the only one not to join a political party. This was largely because her husband and her twin brother—the people to whom she was closest—had chosen different political stances following the foundation of Bermeja in 2005. Despite this, she was prominent throughout her husband's presidential campaign, being well liked by all sides of the political scope. Her ability to transcend politics and her ability to connect with people was widely seen as beneficial to her husband's election and she was the first person he thanked and welcomed on stage during in his victory speech.
First Lady of Bermeja
Molina became Primera Dama ("First Lady") of Bermeja at midday on November 20, 2005, when her husband was sworn in as President of Bermeja. Throughout her husband's presidency, Molina was a prominent public figure in the Bermejan community often taking part in events to promote the micronation or ceremonies to inaugurate a new aspect of such.
Perhaps her most important role, however, was as a peacemaker and deal broker between her husband and her twin brother. Whilst Esteban and Jaime were very close friends and brothers-in-law, the two had become political opponents following the inaugural presidential election. Whilst Molina's husband was president and dictated government policy, her brother had become the de facto "leader of the opposition" in the Chamber of Deputies, able to catalyze support for or against her husband's legislative program.
Despite her prominent position in Bermejan politics, Molina spent long periods of time absent from the project due to her health. Beginning in October 2009, it was announced she would temporarily scale down her official duties in order to receive treatment for cancer. She resumed full-time duties beginning on May 5, 2008 only to later—exactly six months later on November 5, 2008—announce that she would be standing down from full-time duties. Despite this, she would still undertake occasional official business as First Lady, such as attending State of the Republic addresses alongside the President in the Chamber of Deputies.
On January 26, 2009, President Alejándrez and First Lady Molina issued a joint statement announcing that Isabel would effectively "retire" from the role of First Lady, further announcing that the disease she had fought for the last 3 years was now terminal. Her last formal engagement as First Lady of Bermeja was to attend the Easter mass on April 12, 2009.
Death and aftermath
Molina died on July 14, 2009, just 42 days before the completion of her term as First Lady and the completion of her husband's presidency. President Alejándrez took a leave of absence from the Office of President during which time Vice President Pablo Echevarría Pérez served as Acting President. Meanwhile, campaigning in the 2009 general elections was immediately suspended by all sides.
Her funeral—officially regarded as Bermeja's first state funeral—took place on July 22 and was attended by approximately 150 people; including 20 of the 21 Bermejan citizens at the time (the sole absentee was on vacation and unaware of the news). President Alejándrez read the eulogy.
Molina's death had a profound and lasting impact on the micronation and its participants. As her illness progressed and became worse, and eventually terminal, her husband—the primary leader of the project—and her brother—then mid-campaign and favorite to win to the presidential election—both expressed a desire to no longer continue with the project. Jaime in particular had spoken with his sister prior to her death about resigning his party's presidential nomination and retiring from micronationalism. However, as committed as she was from day one, Molina persuaded her husband and brother to continue with the project in memory of her. Both did so, although Jaime would never again fully commit to the micronation and resigned the presidency and retired from micronationalism on July 5, 2012.
Two days after her funeral, on July 24, 2009, a special session of the Chamber of Deputies was convened in order for members to express their condolences and sympathies. After several hours of debate, the special session unanimously passed a resolution permanently conferring the title Primera Dama de Bermeja ("First Lady of Bermeja") on Molina as a tribute to her legacy on the micronation. President Alejándrez returned to his duties on July 25, 2009 with his first action being to sign the resolution and authorize an executive order enacting the same. The order mandates that, in the future, the partner of the president will officially be titled Esposo/Esposa del Presidente ("Husband/Wife of the President").
On August 29, 2009, President Jaime Molina Rodríguez signed an executive order making June 14–his sister's birthday (but also his)–would officially be marked by the Government of Bermeja as Día de la Primera Dama ("First Lady Day") and would be "a day for unselfish acts, kindness and love".
Isabel Juana and her twin brother, Jaime Ignacio, were born on June 14, 1988 to Bruno Molina Juárez (born 1959), a former US Army sergeant, and Dorita Rodríguez Santayana (born 1962). Isabel was the slightly older of the two twins, being born approximately 2 minutes before her twin brother. Despite their being twins, the two had divergent interests growing up. Isabel was far more outgoing and adventurous than her brother, Jaime. As they aged, however, the two personalities almost swapped with Jaime becoming the far louder and more extroverted sibling.
Molina had known Esteban Alejándrez Espino since childhood but they began dating in 2001, when both were aged 13. In 2003, aged 15, Isabel fell pregnant. She gave birth to her only child, Sebastián Tomás Alejándrez Molina, on April 21, 2004. Although initially met with disappointment and anger by her family (and Alejándrez'), the family were welcoming of Sergio and assisted in his care until Molina graduated school in 2009. Later than same year, on June 23, 2004—just 9 days after her 18th birthday—she and Alejándrez married. They moved into their own house early the next year.
After suffering pelvic and abdominal pains for approximately 6 months, Molina was diagnosed with stage III cervical cancer in October 2006. She immediately underwent surgery and treatment for the illness, one of the consequences of such being that she would never have any more children. Molina initially responded well to treatment and fully recovered from her surgery. However, after a 12-month remission, a check-up found the cancer had returned and considerably more aggressively. Despite ongoing treatment, the cancer was diagnosed as terminal in January 2009.
Isabel died at home surrounded by her family on July 14, 2009; one month after her 21st birthday. Her funeral took place on July 22, 2009 and was attended by the other Founders of Bermeja. Two days later, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved a special resolution permanently conferring the title of "First Lady of Bermeja" onto Molina, recognizing her lasting impact on the micronation.