Eli Barreto was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in 1945. He first studied with the master printmaker and painter Domingo García at Galería Campeche in San Juan in 1965. That same year, he participated at Galería Santiago in his first collective show. He then began his studies at the University of Puerto Rico in 1967. Ten years later, he traveled to New York where he studied and worked at the Printmaking Workshop under the guidance of Krisna Reddy. Barreto is a well known abstractionist in Puerto Rico, and his work is a part of many important public and private collections on the island.