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Luis Muñoz Marín

Luis Muñoz Marín
Luis Muñoz Marín portrait as President of the Senate
1st Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
In office
January 2, 1949 – January 2, 1965
Preceded by Jesús T. Piñero (last appointed governor)
Succeeded by Roberto Sánchez Vilella
4th President of the Senate of Puerto Rico
In office
Preceded by Rafael Martínez Nadal
Succeeded by Samuel R. Quiñones
Personal details
Born José Luis Alberto Muñoz Marín
(1898-02-18)February 18, 1898
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Died April 30, 1980(1980-04-30) (aged 82)
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Political party Popular Democratic Party
Spouse(s) (1) Muna Lee (married 1919, divorced 1946)
(2) Inés Mendoza (married 1946)
Children Luis and Munita (first marriage)
Viviana and Victoria (second marriage)
Alma mater Georgetown University (did not graduate)
Profession Journalist, Politician, Poet
Religion Roman Catholicism
Nickname(s) El Vate (The Bard)

José Luis Alberto Muñoz Marín (February 18, 1898 – April 30, 1980), known as Luis Muñoz Marín, was a Puerto Rican poet, journalist, politician and statesman, regarded as the "Father of Modern Puerto Rico,"[1][2] and the "Architect of the Commonwealth." In 1948 he was the first democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico, spearheading an administration that engineered profound economic, political and social reforms; accomplishments that were internationally lauded by many politicians, statesmen, political scientists and economists of the period. Marin was instrumental in the destruction of the Nationalist party and the subjection of the freedoms and efforts for independence by the Puerto Rican people.


  • Early life and education 1
    • Childhood 1.1
    • Poetry and ideological contrasts 1.2
  • Marriage and family 2
  • Formation of political ideas 3
  • Political career 4
    • Senator 4.1
    • President of the Senate 4.2
    • Passage of Law 53 (the Gag Law) 4.3
    • World War I 4.4
    • Governor 4.5
  • Later years 5
    • Retirement 5.1
  • Legacy and honors 6
  • Quotations 7
  • Ancestors of Luis Muñoz Marín 8
  • Political succession 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • Further reading 12
  • External links 13

Early life and education


Luis Muñoz Marín was born on February 18, 1898 at 152 Calle de la Fortaleza in Old San Juan. He was the son of Luis Muñoz Rivera and Amalia Marín Castilla. His father was a poet, publisher, and a politician, responsible for founding two newspapers, El Diario and La Democracia. Days before Luis' birth, his father traveled to Spain to present a proposal of autonomy for Puerto Rico, which was accepted.[3] His father was elected to serve as Secretary of State of Puerto Rico and Chief of the Cabinet for the Government of Puerto Rico.

On October 18, 1898, Puerto Rico was annexed by the United States following Spain's defeat in the Spanish–American War. Luis's father assisted in establishing an insular police force, but opposed the military colonial government established by the United States. He resigned from office on February 4, 1899. Later he was elected to the House of Delegates of Puerto Rico. In 1910, he was elected as Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, serving the island as a representative to Congress from 1911 until his death in 1916.

One of Muñoz Marín's paternal great-grandfathers, Luis Muñoz Iglesias, was born on October 12, 1797, in Palencia, Spain. At age 14, he had joined the Spanish Army and battled Napoleon Bonaparte's French Army in the Peninsular War. Afterward he decided to make his career in the army' he was awarded decorations after fighting against Simón Bolívar during the Admirable Campaign of independence in Latin America. Once the conflict was over, he traveled to Puerto Rico along with his commanding officer, Miguel de la Torre. He subsequently settled in a farm in Cidra and married María Escolástica Barrios.[4][5]

In 1901 when Muñoz Marín was three years old, a group of statehood supporters broke into his father's El Diario's building and vandalized most of the equipment.[6] Following this incident, the family moved to Caguas. After receiving further threats from the statehood movements, the family moved to New York City.[6] There Muñoz Marín learned English, while his father founded the bilingual newspaper, Puerto Rico Herald. During the following years, the family frequently traveled between both locations.[7] His father founded the Unionist Party in Puerto Rico, which won the election in 1904. Following the party's victory, his father was elected as a member of the House of Delegates.[7]

Luis Muñoz Marín began his elementary education at William Penn Public School in Santurce, a district of San Juan.[8] Most classes were taught in English, a change imposed by the American colonial government. Muñoz Marín's knowledge of English allowed him to be advanced to second grade, although he had some difficulty the next year.[8] In 1908, Muñoz Marín was enrolled in a small private school in San Juan. Working with the teacher Pedro Moczó, in two years he covered all the material normally taught to students between third and eighth grade, passing tests with good grades.[9]

In 1910, his father was elected as Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico. This position is a non-voting delegate to the United States Congress. Muñoz Marín briefly moved to New York with his mother before moving to Washington, D.C., at his father's insistence.

In 1911, he began his studies at the Georgetown University Law Center, but Muñoz Marín was uninterested and wanted to become a poet.

In late 1916, Muñoz Marín and his mother were called to Puerto Rico by their friend Eduardo Georgetti, who said Luis' father was suffering from an infection spreading from his gallbladder. Muñoz Rivera died on November 15, 1916, when Luis was eighteen.[11]

Poetry and ideological contrasts

A month later Muñoz Marín and his mother returned to New York; he sold his law books and refused to return to Georgetown.[12] Within one month he published a book titled Borrones, composed of several stories and a one-act play. For several months, he served as the congressional clerk to Félix Córdova Dávila, who succeeded Muñoz Marín's father as Resident Commissioner.[13]

Marriage and family

On July 1, 1919 Muñoz Marín married Muna Lee, an American writer from Raymond, Mississippi who had grown up in Oklahoma.[14] Lee was a leading Southern feminist and a rising writer of Pan-American poetry.[15] They had a daughter and a son together, but often lived apart before separating in 1938.

During the 1920s Muñoz Marín spent the majority of his time in Greenwich Village in Hawaii, where he lived apart from his wife and young children. During those years he repeatedly asked his wife and mother to send him money, and indulged in a "Bohemian life" that seriously strained his marriage. Muñoz Marín and his wife Muna Lee underwent a legal separation in 1938.[16]

During his first campaign for the Puerto Rico Senate in 1932, Muñoz Marín was accused of being a narcotics addict; he was alleged to be addicted to opium.[17][18]

Before his campaigns of 1938 and 1939, while he was still legally married, Muñoz Marín met Inés Mendoza.[19] A teacher, she became his mistress and was fired for complaining about the prohibition against classes in Spanish. They agreed that substituting "one language for another is to diminish that country's capacity to be happy".[20] Muñoz Marín asked Mendoza to "stay with him all his life."[21]

In 1940, a month after his election as President of the Senate in Puerto Rico, Muñoz Marín and Mendoza had a daughter, Victoria, named to commemorate his success.[22] He and Mendoza officially married in 1946, and they had a second daughter, Viviana.

In the 1980s, their daughter Victoria Muñoz Mendoza became active in Puerto Rican politics.[23] In 1992, she became the first woman to run as a candidate for the governorship of Puerto Rico.[24]

Formation of political ideas

In 1920, Muñoz Marín was selected to deliver a check to Santiago Iglesias, the president of the Socialist Party of Puerto Rico. Excited about the prospect of meeting him, they moved to Puerto Rico, where the couple's first daughter, Munita, was born.[25] Upon arriving, he noticed that some of the landowners were paying the jíbaros, the mountain-dwelling peasants of Puerto Rico, two dollars in exchange for their votes. He joined the Socialist Party, a decision regarded as a "disaster" by his family.[19][26] In October 1920, the Socialist Party recruited members of the Republican Party in order to win upcoming elections. Disappointed, Muñoz Marín returned to the mainland, moving to New Jersey with his family. Shortly after, his first son, Luis Muñoz Lee, was born.

In 1923, he returned alone to Puerto Rico, supposedly to publish a book that collected several of his father's previously unpublished works. After collecting $5,000 from his father's friends for this alleged "publication" Muñoz Marín spent the money, did not write the book, and quickly left the island.[27] Several years later, after things had quieted down, Antonio R. Barceló, who was the president of the newly formed Coalition, made up of the Republican and Socialist parties, called Muñoz Marín to work on La Democracia.[28] After having problems with some members of the party's Republican faction, due to his support for island autonomy, Muñoz Marín returned to New York. Here he wrote for The American Mercury and The Nation.

In 1931, after traveling throughout the United States, Muñoz Marín noticed the instability of the country's economy — and his own personal finances — after the stock market crash. Deciding exploiting his father's name in Puerto Rican politics was better than starving in Greenwich village, he borrowed money from a group of friends and returned to the island.[29] Upon arriving, he discovered that Hurricane San Felipe Segundo had destroyed most of the sugar crops where the jíbaros worked, leaving the majority unemployed.

Political career


By the 1930s, Puerto Rico's political scenario had changed; the only party actively asking for independence was the Pedro Albizu Campos, occasionally met with Muñoz Marín. He was impressed by the substance of Albizu's arguments, but their styles to achieve autonomy and social reforms were different.[30]

In 1932, Antonio R. Barceló abandoned the Coalition, which by this time had weakened, and he worked to establish a new independence movement. Barceló adopted several of Muñoz Marín's ideas of social and economic reforms and autonomy, using them to form the ideology of the Liberal Party of Puerto Rico.[30] Muñoz Marín joined the Liberal Party and led La Democracia, which had become the party's official newspaper. He had decided to become a politician to achieve reform.[30] In speeches, he discussed ways to provide more land, hospitals, food and schools to the general public.

On March 13, 1932, Muñoz Marín was nominated by the party for the post of senator. Although the party did not win a majority in the 1932 elections, Muñoz Marín received enough votes to gain a position in the Puerto Rican Senate.[31] Shortly after, Rudy Black, a reporter for La Democracia, arranged a meeting between him and Eleanor Roosevelt. Wanting her to see Puerto Rico's problems personally, he persuaded her to visit the main island.[32]

In August 1932, Muñoz Marín received Eleanor Roosevelt in Fort San Felipe del Morro and La Fortaleza before traveling to El Fanguito, a poor sector that had suffered much damage in the hurricane. When photos of her visit were published, former American governors and the incumbent were outraged to have been overlooked.[33] Following his wife's report, Franklin D. Roosevelt included Puerto Rico in the New Deal program. Muñoz Marín became a popular political figure due to his involvement in the program, which provided for considerable investment of federal funds in Puerto Rico to develop infrastructure and housing.[33]

Following the government police massacre of Nationalist protesters at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras in 1935, the US Senator Millard Tydings from Maryland supported a bill in 1936 to give independence to Puerto Rico.[34] (He had co-sponsored the Tydings–McDuffie Act, which provided independence to the Philippines after a 10-year transition under a limited autonomy.) All the Puerto Rican parties supported the bill, but Muñoz Marín opposed it. Tydings did not gain passage of the bill.[34]

Muñoz Marín criticized the bill for what he said would be adverse effects on the island's economy. He compared it to a principle known as Ley de Fuga (Law of flight). This was the term for a police officer arresting a man, releasing him, and shooting him in the back while the policeman retreated, claiming the suspect had "fled."[35]

As a result of his opposition to the bill and disagreement with Antonio R. Barceló, Muñoz Marín was expelled from the Liberal Party. Muñoz Marín's expulsion severely affected his public image.

He created a group named Acción Social Independentista (ASI) ("Pro-Independence Social Action") which later became the

  • Luis Muñoz Marín Foundation (Spanish)

External links

  • Carmen T. Bernier-Grand (1995). Poet and Politician of Puerto Rico: Don Luis Muñoz Marín. New York: Orchand Books.  
  • Abbott Chrisman (1989). Hispanic Stories: Luis Muñoz Marín. United States: Raintree Publishers.  

Further reading

  1. ^ "Roberto Sanchez Vilella, 84, Puerto Rican Governor, Dies". The New York Times. March 26, 1997. Retrieved April 30, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Don Luis Muñoz Marín: el último de los próceres.". The World of Puerto Rican Politics. Retrieved October 1, 2007. 
  3. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.1
  4. ^ Luis Muñoz Marín By A. W. Maldonado
  5. ^ Luis Muñoz Iglesias (Spanish)
  6. ^ a b Bernier-Grand et al., p.8-9
  7. ^ a b Bernier-Grand et al., p.10-11
  8. ^ a b Bernier-Grand et al., p.12
  9. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.15
  10. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.18-19
  11. ^ "Luis Muñoz Marín: Primeros Años". Fundación Luis Muñoz Marín (in Español). Archived from the original on November 18, 2004. Retrieved October 1, 2007. 
  12. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.26
  13. ^ La Obra de Félix Córdova Dávila, Correspondencia Política entre Félix Córdova Dávila y Antonio R. Barceló (1917–1921), published by Oficina del Historiador de Puerto Rico, 2008, ISBN 978-1-934461-12-9
  14. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.32-33
  15. ^ JONATHAN COHEN (December 20, 2004). "MUNA LEE: A PAN-AMERICAN LIFE". The Americas Series of the University of Wisconsin Press. University of Wisconsin Press. Retrieved October 1, 2007. 
  16. ^ A.W. Maldonado, Luis Muñoz Marín: Puerto Rico's Democratic Revolution, pp. 70-73; Editorial Universidad de Puerto Rico, 2006; ISBN 978-0-8477-0163-6
  17. ^ Luis Muñoz Marín, Memorias, p. 57; Fundacion Luis Muñoz Marín, 2003; ISBN 978-0-913480-53-3
  18. ^ A.W. Maldonado, Luis Muñoz Marín: Puerto Rico's Democratic Revolution, pp. 94-95; Editorial Universidad de Puerto Rico, 2006; ISBN 978-0-8477-0163-6
  19. ^ a b c "Luis Muñoz Marín: El Político". Fundación Luis Muñoz Marín (in Español). Archived from the original on September 23, 2007. Retrieved October 1, 2007. 
  20. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.61-62
  21. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.63
  22. ^ a b Bernier-Grand et al., p.73
  23. ^ "Late leader's daughter takes up cause in Puerto Rico". The Lewiston Journal. October 8, 1985. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Summary of November 3, 1992 General Election Results". Elections Puerto Rico. Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
  25. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.36
  26. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.41
  27. ^ , File #100-5745; pp. 16-17Luis Muñoz MarínFBI File Report: Retrieved 05-31-2013.
  28. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.46
  29. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.48
  30. ^ a b c Bernier-Grand et al., p.51
  31. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.52
  32. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.53
  33. ^ a b Bernier-Grand et al., p.54
  34. ^ a b Frank Otto Gatell, "Independence Rejected: Puerto Rico and the Tydings Bill of 1936", Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Feb., 1958), pp. 25-44, accessed 15 December 2012
  35. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.55-56
  36. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.58
  37. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.60
  38. ^ a b "Muñoz Marín, Luis".  
  39. ^ "Puerto Rican Labor Movement". Center for History and New Media, George Mason University. Retrieved October 1, 2007. 
  40. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.74
  41. ^ "Operación Serenidad". Fundación Luis Muñoz Marín (in Español). Retrieved October 2, 2007. 
  42. ^ "Women in World History". Center for History and New Media, George Mason University,. Retrieved August 8, 2009. 
  43. ^ Dr. Carmelo Delgado Cintrón, "La obra jurídica del Profesor David M. Helfeld (1948-2008)", Academia Jurisprudencia
  44. ^ "Puerto Rican History". January 13, 1941. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  45. ^ "Jaime Benítez y la autonomía universitaria"; by: Mary Frances Gallart; Publisher: CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1-4611-3699-6
  46. ^ Ley Núm. 282 del año 2006
  47. ^ La Gobernación de Jesús T. Piñero y la Guerra Fría
  48. ^ a b c d Malavet, Pedro (2004). America's Colony: The Political and Cultural Conflict Between the United States and Puerto Rico. NYU Press. p. 77.  
  49. ^ a b Bernier-Grand et al., p.76
  50. ^ a b c Bernier-Grand et al., p.80
  51. ^ a b Bernier-Grand et al., p.81
  52. ^ El ataque Nacionalista a La Fortaleza; by Pedro Aponte Vázquez; Page 7; Publisher: Publicaciones RENÉ; ISBN 978-1-931702-01-0
  53. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.82
  54. ^ a b c d e Bernier-Grand et al., p.83
  55. ^ a b Bernier-Grand et al., p.85
  56. ^ a b c Bernier-Grand et al., p.86
  57. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.87
  58. ^ Bernier-Grand et al., p.88
  59. ^ a b Bernier-Grand et al., p.89
  60. ^ "Luis Munoz Marin – May 2, 1949". Time. Retrieved August 10, 2008. 
  61. ^ "Luis Munoz Marin – June 23, 1958". Time. Retrieved August 10, 2008. 
  62. ^ "The Bard of Bootstrap". Time. June 23, 1958. Retrieved 2 January 2013. (subscription required (help)). 
  63. ^ Luis Muñoz Iglesias; LA FORTALEZA SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO a 10 de febrero de 1964
  64. ^ LA FORTALEZA SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO a 10 de febrero de 1964
  65. ^ a b Luis Muñoz Marín: Puerto Rico's democratic revolution
  66. ^ Esteban Rivera
  67. ^ a b Luis Muñoz Marín: Primeros Años
  68. ^ Vicente Marín
  69. ^ Ramón Marín Solá born in Arecibo, PR, on January 12, 1832, and died in San Juan, PR, on 13th September 1902.
  70. ^ Las fiestas populares de Ponce By Ramón Marín, Socorro Girón Page 13. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  72. ^ a b Las fiestas populares de Ponce By Ramón Marín


See also

Political offices
Preceded by
Jesús T. Piñero
Governor of Puerto Rico
Succeeded by
Roberto Sánchez Vilella
Preceded by
Rafael Martínez Nadal
President of the Senate of Puerto Rico
Succeeded by
Samuel R. Quiñones

Political succession

Ancestors of Luis Muñoz Marín

  • "Diversity within unity. It is to that image of creative diversity within the equally creative great whole... to that realization, that flowering and enrichment, that Puerto Rico wants to contribute in its association with the United States.
  • "Two variations of a way of life, two manners of a common cultural heritage come into contact in Puerto Rico and have the opportunity of influencing each other for better or for worse. It is the job of all of us to make it be for better, to see that this interaction of cultural forces, while minimizing clashes and frictions, do constantly enrich the social and economic well-being, the standard of values, the mores and aspirations of the peoples of this Hemisphere."
  • "Let us urgently devise the basic objectives in housing, in health, in education, in economic productivity, in communications, which may be attainable by different areas of the hemisphere, according to their human and material resources. Let us solemnly declare that our essential goal -the goal of all Americans, North and South- is the abolition of extreme poverty, in the areas of misery remaining in regions of the U.S and in the altiplano of Bolivia, the plains of Venezuela, the coffee lands of Puerto Rico and Central America, the sierras of Mexico- to wipe out extreme poverty in this hemisphere within the lifetime of children already born. Let us encourage government and private initiative to share in a good partnership with a view to better distributive justice for all; and let's not be doctrinaire about it. Let us not be doctrinaire either as to socialism or capitalism, but only as to freedom and human dignity. Let us give friendly support to all groups thinking in terms of a greater, truly hemispheric America, not merely Latin, not merely Anglo-Saxon, and not merely temporary while a Russian danger lasts. An America to serve the world."
  • "The dignity of man and the humility of man; the equality in the dignity and the humility of man- this is democracy. Some know more and others know less, but we all die the same, and our knowledge of death is the same. Some do more and others do less, but we all do what we can, and in that we are all similar. Democracy, in its profoundest sense, in its truest sense, in its most irrefutable sense, in its most vivid sense, is the quality of the human spirit in the face of human life."
  • "I would call the Democratic Left in Latin America the group which secures social advances for all the people, in a framework of freedom and consent."
  • "The situation affecting the people of this small island is grave, but our people are greater than the problems we are encountering. The pain of this nation is great, its valor is greater. Its qualities of spirit are magnificent, if we can only begin to learn to use those magnificent qualities of spirit."
  • "We are at the beginning of a new decade. We should, of course, continue and accelerate the integral development of Puerto Rico in all its aspects. There is something, however, that merits our principal attention, our most devoted dedication, in these new times. We dedicated the decade that began in the year 1940 to the battle to abolish poverty. And to do so, we put aside the political status issue. In the beginning of the 1950s we put special energy in the creation of a new political status, vitally adapted to the economic necessities of Puerto Rico. In the decade we now begin I propose that we put special attention to the kind of civilization, the type of culture, how deep and good the quality of life the people of Puerto Rico want to create on the basis of the growing economic prosperity. Economic development is not an end in itself, but the basis for a good civilization. Political status is not an end in itself, but a means to economic realization and the development of a good civilization."
  • "The gallant contribution that the soldiers of the 65th and 296th Infantry regiments have made alongside their fellow citizens of the United States, defending our common ideals against those who try to subvert the freedom of the human race, make the transfer of their regimental colors an occasion of profound meaning to all of us."
  • "What is the vote? The vote is the only weapon that you have to defend yourself from exploitation. The vote is the only weapon you have to make a government that is yours and of men like yourself that need bread, land, justice and freedom. It is the only weapon that you have to make a government that is not of the big corporations that take millions from the misery of your family and the hunger of your children. If you are being watched by a bandit that wants to take your house and plow. And if you were given a weapon to defend yourself. Would you sell that weapon to the bandit for a few coins? Or would you use it to stop the bandit from taking your house and plow? If you are a man you will use that weapon to defend your home and your plow."


  • American author, political professor and expert on Latin American affairs Henry Wells wrote "The Modernization of Puerto Rico: A Political Study of Changing Values and Institutions" which was published in 1969.
  • In Rexford Tugwell's book "The Art of Politics, as Practiced by Three Great Americans: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Luis Muñoz Marín, and Fiorello H. LaGuardia", Tugwell described Munoz's achievement, "Munoz led a movement and created a party, which consolidated the latent power of the stricken Puerto Rican mass and used it to force into being a disciplined program for rejuvenation. This effort has signficance beyond itself. It soon became a wonder of a world looking for the means to lift backward peoples from the stew of poverty and demagoguism, which has become so characteristic of all the old colonial area. He was the creator, as much as one man could be, of a new status for a whole people and a new relationship among political entities. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was a brilliant invention and its bringing into being a remarkable achievement."
  • Muñoz Marín was featured twice on the cover of TIME magazine, in 1949 and 1958.[60][61] The articles called him "one of the most influential politicians in recent times, whose works will be remembered for years to come."[62]
  • Muñoz Marín's tenure as governor contributed to immense changes in Puerto Rico, no political leader has had a greater impact on the island. Under Luis Muñoz Marín's leadership, Puerto Rico created its own constitution, gained self autonomy, while forming a new relationship with the United States Congress based on a bilateral compact, and free association with the United States Federal Government.
  • On November 13, 1961, John F. Kennedy honored Luis Muñoz Marín for his accomplishments with a state dinner at the White House, and in 1963 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The citation read: "Poet, politician, public servant, patriot, he has led his people to new heights of dignity and purpose and transformed a stricken land into a vital society."He also received the highest decorations from various other governments, including France which awarded him the prestigious Grand Cross of the French Legion, Panama which conferred on him the Order of the Vasco Núnez de Balboa, and Peru which honored him with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun.

Legacy and honors

Late in his life, Muñoz Marín's health weakened. On January 5, 1976, he suffered a severe stroke, which temporarily affected his ability to move, read and speak.[58] On April 30, 1980, he died at the age of 82, after suffering complications from a severe fever.[59] His funeral became an island-wide event, dwarfing his own father's funeral in 1916, and attended by tens of thousands of followers.[59]

He returned to Puerto Rico two years later, when he began writing an autobiography.[57] He promoted the gubernatorial candidacy of the senate's president Rafael Hernández Colón, the new leader of the Popular Democratic Party.[48]

After resigning his senate seat in 1970, Muñoz Marín temporally moved to Italy, where one of his daughters, Viviana, had established residence.[56] During this time he traveled to various destinations in Europe, including France, Spain and Greece.


The PPD was defeated for the first time, and Luis A. Ferré was elected as governor. Muñoz Marín and Sánchez Vilella's friendship was severely strained after this.

Governor Sánchez purchased the franchise of The People's Party (Partido del Pueblo) and decided to run for governor under this new party.[48]

After leaving the post of governor, Muñoz Marín continued his public service until 1970 as a member of the Puerto Rico Senate. In 1968, he had a serious dispute with Governor Sánchez Vilella. Still an influential figure inside the Popular Democratic Party, Muñoz Marín decided not to support Sánchez's re-election bid.

Sculpture of Muñoz Marín inside the Capitol of Puerto Rico

Later years

Victoria, Muñoz Marín's youngest daughter joined the group, which he didn't oppose.[56] The day before the party had an assembly to elect its candidates, Muñoz Marín announced his decision not to run for another term. He recommended Roberto Sánchez Vilella, his Secretary of State, for the party's candidacy. when the crowd called for "four more years", Muñoz Marín said, "I am not your strength... You are your own strength."[56] Sánchez Vilella was elected as governor.

On December 6, 1962, Muñoz Marín was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President John F. Kennedy. By 1964, Muñoz Marín had been governor for sixteen years. A group of younger members of the Popular Democratic Party felt that he should retire.[55] They suggested that he resign, and presented a proposal for term limits — two terms for elected officials.[55] The group named themselves Los veinte y dos ("The twenty-twos") and began running a campaign, calling on civilians for support.

During the decade of the 1950s, most jíbaros pursued work in factories instead of agriculture, to avoid the losses from frequent hurricanes. Many people migrated to New York City during this period for its good industrial jobs. Muñoz Marín said that he "did not agree with" the "continuing situation", and that the "battle for good life, should not have all its emphasis placed on industrialization. Part of it must be placed on agriculture."[54] American critics felt that he encouraged the migration to reduce overpopulation.[54] Despite efforts to provide more work in agriculture on the islands, the migration continued.[54]

The inauguration acts for the establishment of the Estado Libre Associado took place on July 25, 1952. Security for the event was tightened to avoid any incident, and invitations were issued.[53] Muñoz Marín feared that the new status could affect the Puerto Rican culture or "Americanize" the island's language.[54] The government began promoting cultural activities, founding the Pablo Casals Festival, Music Conservatory, and Puerto Rico's Institute of Culture.[54]

The Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico, led by Albizu Campos, also supported full independence and had abandoned the electoral process after low support. On October 30, 1950, a group of Puerto Rican nationalists attacked the governor's mansion, La Fortaleza, as part of widespread armed revolts that day, which included the Jayuya and the Utuado Uprisings. Muñoz Marín mobilized the Puerto Rican National Guard under the command of Puerto Rico Adjutant General Luis R. Esteves and sent them to confront the Nationalists in various towns, besides San Juan, such as Jayuya and Utuado. He ordered the police to arrest many of the Nationalists, including Albizu Campos.[51][52] Subsequently, the Muñoz Marín administration used law 53, known as Ley de Mordaza (lit. "the gag law") to arrest thousands of Puerto Ricans without due process, including pro-independence supporters who were not involved in the uprisings.[48]

Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963

During his terms as governor, a Constitutional Convention of Puerto Rico, was called. Muñoz Marín participated in that and the drafting of the Constitution of Puerto Rico. It was passed by 82% of the people of Puerto Rico, and approved by the United States Congress in 1952. Supporters of independence left the PPD and founded the Puerto Rican Independence Party soon after.[51]

Having made progress on illiteracy and other social problems, the party began debating how to establish an autonomous government.[50] Muñoz Marín and his officials agreed to adopt an "Free Associated State" structure, which had been proposed by Barceló decades before. In Spanish the proposal's name remained unchanged, but in English, it was commonly referred to as a "Commonwealth", to avoid confusion with full statehood.[50] The main goal of the proposal was to provide more autonomy to the island, including executive functions similar to those in states, and to pass a constitution.[50]

Muñoz Marín officially took office on January 2, 1949. He held the post of Governor for sixteen years, being re-elected again in 1952, 1956 and 1960. In 1957, Muñoz Marín was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LL.D.) from Bates College.

Luis Muñoz Marín portrait as President of the Senate


In 1944 the Popular Republican Party won a majority again in the election, repeating the political victory of the previous elections. In 1947, Congress approved legislation allowing Puerto Ricans to elect its own Governor. Muñoz Maríne successfully campaigned for the post, and was elected as the first democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico and the second Puerto Rican to serve in that post.[38]

During the early stages of World War II, many thousands of Puerto Ricans were drafted to serve in the United States Army. This eased problems of overpopulation in the main island. Muñoz Marín promoted the construction of public housing projects to resolve a housing shortage.[49] During the war he established low-interest scholarships and loans for the residents who were not drafted. To address health issues, he established free public clinics, which opened throughout Puerto Rico.[49]

World War I

Muñoz Marín used Law 53 to arrest thousands of Puerto Ricans without due process - including members of other political parties, and people who did not vote for him.[48]

According to Dr. Leopoldo Figueroa, a member of the Partido Estadista Puertorriqueño (Puerto Rican Statehood Party) and the only non-member of PPD in the Puerto Rican House, the law was repressive and in direct violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech.[46] Figueroa pointed out that every Puerto Rican was born with full citizenship, and full U.S. constitutional protections.[47]

Under this law it became a crime to own or display a imprisonment, a fine of $10,000 dollars (US), or both.[45]

The Ley de la Mordaza (a gag law) passed the legislature on May 21, 1948 and was signed into law on June 10, 1948, by the U.S.-appointed governor of Puerto Rico, Jesús T. Piñero. It closely resembled the anti-communist Smith Act passed in the United States, and was perceived as an effort to suppress opposition to the PPD and the independence movement.[44]

In 1948, the Puerto Rican Senate passed Law 53, also known as the Gag Law, which would restrain the rights of the independence and Nationalist movements in the island. Marin was instrumental in the passage of this law as he was the in control of the senate at the time. The passage of the law allowed him to arrest any suspected nationalist without cause and or due process and so allowed him to squash any potential question to his authority.[43]

Puerto Rican flag removed by an American soldier

Passage of Law 53 (the Gag Law)

Civil rights groups and the Catholic Church criticized Operation Bootstrap, for what they saw as government-promoted birth control, encouragement of surgical sterilization, and fostering the migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States mainland.[42]

Operation Bootstrap encouraged investors to transfer or create manufacturing plants, offering them local and federal tax concessions, while maintaining access to American markets free of import duties. The program facilitated a shift to an industrial economy. During the 1950s, labor-intensive light industries were developed on the island, such as textiles; manufacturing later gave way to heavy industry, such as petrochemicals and oil refining, in the 1960s and 1970s. Taught in Spanish, jíbaros were trained to work in jobs being promoted by the government.[40] Muñoz Marín backed legislation to limit the amount of land a company could own. His development programs brought some prosperity for an emergent middle class. A rural agricultural society was transformed into an industrial working class. Muñoz Marín also launched Operación Serenidad ("Operation Serenity"), a series of projects geared toward promoting education and appreciation of the arts.[41]

During his term as President of the Senate, Muñoz was an advocate of the working class of Puerto Rico.[39] Along with Governor Rexford Tugwell, the last non-Puerto Rican US-appointed Governor, and the republican-socialist coalition which headed the House of Representatives, Muñoz helped advance legislation for agricultural reform, economic recovery, and industrialization.[22] This program became known as Operation Bootstrap. It was coupled with a program of agrarian reform (land redistribution) which limited the area to be held by large sugarcane interests. During the first four decades of the 20th century, Puerto Rico's dominant economic commodity had been sugarcane by-products.

In 1940, the Popular Democratic Party won a majority in the Senate of Puerto Rico, which was attributed to his campaigning in the rural areas. Muñoz Marín was elected as the fourth President of the Senate.[38]

External audio
You may listen to one of the speeches made in Spanish by Luis Muñoz Marín on YouTube

President of the Senate

In 1938, Muñoz Marín helped create the Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico (Partido Popular Democratico, or PPD). The party committed to helping the jíbaros, regardless of their political beliefs, by promoting a minimum wage, initiatives to provide food and water, cooperatives to work with agriculture, and the creation of more industrial alternatives.[36] Muñoz Marín concentrated his political campaigning in the rural areas of Puerto Rico. He attacked the then common practice of paying off rural farm workers to influence their vote, insisting that they "lend" their vote for only one election. The party's first rally attracted solid participation, which surprised the other parties.[37]


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