Luis Muñoz Marín

Luis Muñoz Marín

Infobox Governor
name= Luis Muñoz Marín

office= Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
term_start= January 2, 1949
term_end=January 2, 1965
predecessor= "none"
successor=Roberto Sánchez Vilella
office2=President of the Senate of Puerto Rico
predecessor2=Rafael Martínez Nadal
successor2=Samuel R. Quiñones
birth_date= birth date|1898|2|18|mf=y
birth_place= San Juan, Puerto Rico
death_date= death date and age|1980|4|30|1898|2|18|mf=y
death_place= San Juan, Puerto Rico
alma_mater=Georgetown University
religion=Roman Catholic
spouse= (1) Muna Lee (married 1919, divorced 1947)
(2) Inés Mendoza (married 1947)
children=Luis and Munita (first marriage)
Viviana and Victoria (second marriage)
profession= Journalist, Politician, Poet
party= Popular Democratic Party

José Luis Alberto Muñoz Marín (February 18, 1898ndash April 30, 1980) was a Puerto Rican poet, journalist, and politician. He was the first democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico and considered one of the most important 20th century political figures in the Americas. He worked closely with the Government of the United States for the creation of a Constitution for Puerto Rico that would create a more favorable environment in which the island could achieve progress both economically and politically. Muñoz served for sixteen years as Governor. His achievements made him worthy of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1962 and of the title "Father of Modern Puerto Rico". [cite web |url=|title=Don Luis Muñoz Marín: el último de los próceres.|accessdate=2007-10-01 |format= |work=The World of Puerto Rican Politics]

Early life

Luis Muñoz Marín was born 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 and a politician, responsible for founding two newspapers, "El Diario"and "La Democracia". Days before Luis' birth, he traveled to Spain and presented a proposal of autonomy for Puerto Rico, which was accepted. Bernier-Grand et al, p.1] Muñoz Rivera was elected to serve as Secretary of State and Chief of the Cabinet for the independent Government of Puerto Rico. On August 12, 1898, Puerto Rico was annexed to the United States, following the conclusion of the Spanish-American War. Muñoz Rivera assisted in establishing a insular police, but opposed the military colonial government that was established by the United States, eventually resigning his office on February 4, 1899.

When Muñoz Marín was three years old, a group of statehood supporters broke into the "El Diario's" building, vandalizing most of the equipment. Bernier-Grand et al, p.8-9] Following this incident, the family moved to Caguas. After receiving further threats from the statehood movements, Muñoz Rivera decided to move to New York City. There Muñoz Marín learned English, while his father founded the bilingual newspaper "Puerto Rico Herald". During the following years, the family contantly traveled between both locations. Bernier-Grand et al, p.10-11] Muñoz Rivera founded the Unionist Party in Puerto Rico, which won the election in 1904. Following the party's victory, he was selected as a member the House of Delegates. Muñoz Marín began his elementary eduducation at William Penn Public School in Santurce, a district of San Juan. Bernier-Grand et al, p.12] During this time the American colonial government tried to change Puerto Rico's main language and most classes were taught in English. Muñoz Marín was briefly assigned to first grade, but his knowledge in the language was too advanced and he was placed in second grade. He completed this year, but failed to pass third grade. The teacher cited that he had a short attention span and lack of interest. In 1908, Muñoz Marín was enrolled in a small private school in San Juan. Working with a teacher named Pedro Moczó, he covered all the material taught to students between third and eight grade in two years, passing with good grades. Bernier-Grand et al, p.15] In 1910, Muñoz Rivera was elected Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico to the United States Congress. Muñoz Marín briefly moved to New York with his mother before moving to Washington, D.C., after his father insisted. In 1911, he began his studies at the Georgetown Preparatory School, he disliked the institution's strict discipline and failed the tenth grade. Bernier-Grand et al, p.18-19] In 1915, his father enrolled him at Georgetown University Law Center, but Muñoz Marín wasn't interested in the matter, instead wanting to become a poet. In late 1916, Muñoz Marín and his mother were called to Puerto Rico by Eduardo Georgetti, a friend of the family, who informed them that his father was suffering from an infection that had began in the galbladder, but began expanding throughout his body. Luis Muñoz Rivera died on November 15, 1916.cite web |url=|title=Luis Muñoz Marín: Primeros Años|accessdate=2007-10-01 |format= |work=Fundación Luis Muñoz Marín es icon]

Poetry and ideological contrasts

A month later both returned to New York, where Muñoz Marín sold his law books and refused to return to Georgetown. Bernier-Grand et al, p.26] Within a month, he published a book titled "Borrones", composed of several stories and a act play. Muñoz Marín married American writer Muna Lee on July 1, 1919. Bernier-Grand et al, p.32-33] Lee, who hailed from Raymond, Mississippi, was a leading Southern feminist and a rising writer of Pan-American poetry. [cite web |url=|title=MUNA LEE: A PAN-AMERICAN LIFE|accessdate=2007-10-01 |author=JONATHAN COHEN |date=December 20, 2004 |work=The Americas Series of the University of Wisconsin Press |publisher=University of Wisconsin Press] The couple lived in poverty during the first months of their marriage, establishing residence in Staten Island. In 1920, Munoz Marin was selected to deliver a check to Santiago Iglesias, the president of Socialist Party of Puerto Rico. Enthusiastic ith the idea of meeting him, they moved to Puerto Rico where the couple's first daughter, Munita, was born. Bernier-Grand et al, p.36] Upon arriving, he noticed that some of the landowners were paying the "jíbaros" two dollars in exchange for their votes. He immediately joined the Socialist Party, a decision that was regarded as a "disaster" by his family.cite web |url=|title=Luis Muñoz Marín: El Político|accessdate=2007-10-01 |format= |work=Fundación Luis Muñoz Marín es icon] Bernier-Grand et al, p.41] In October 1920, the Socialist Party recruited members of the Republican Party of Puerto Rico in order to win upcoming elections. Disappointed, Muñoz Marín moved to New Jersey with his family. Shortly after, his first son, Luis Muñoz Lee, was born. In 1923, he returned to Puerto Rico alone to publish a book covering several of his father's unpublished works into a book compendium. This took nearly two years, with a book titled "Political Campaigns" being published. Two years later, Antonio R. Barceló, who was the president of a newly formed Coalition, called Muñoz Marín to work in "La Democracia". Bernier-Grand et al, p.46] After experiencing problems with members of the party's Republican faction, due to autonomist material in his works, he returned to New York alone. Here he wrote for "The American Mercury" and "The Nation". In 1931, after traveling throughout the United States, Muñoz Marín noticed that the country's economic situation wasn't solid. Deciding that independence was the only way to resolve Puerto Rico's economic and social problems, he borrowed money from a group of friends and returned to the main island. Bernier-Grand et al, p.48] Upon arriving, he discovered that Hurricane San Felipe had destroyed most of the sugar crops were the "jíbaros" worked, leaving the majority unemployed.

Political career


By this time, Puerto Rico's political scenario had changed, the only party that was actively asking for independence was the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. That organization's president, Pedro Albizu Campos, occasionally visited Muñoz Marin. He was impressed the substance of Albizu's arguments, but their styles to achieve autonomy and social reforms were different. Bernier-Grand et al, p.51] In 1932, Barceló abandoned the Coalition, which by this time had weakened, seeking to establish a new independence movement. Barceló employed several of Muñoz Marin's ideas of social and economic reforms and autonomy, using them to form the ideological belief of a newly formed Liberal Party. Muñoz Marin joined the Liberal Party and lead "La Democracia", which had become the party's official newspaper. He believed that the only way to directly work with the reforms he promoted was by becoming an active politician. Most of his discources discussed ways to provide more land, hospitals, food and schools to the general public. On March 13, 1932, Muñoz was nominated by the party for the post of senator. Although the party lost the 1932 elections, Muñoz Marin received enough votes to receive a position in the Puerto Rican Senate. Bernier-Grand et al, p.52] Shorty after, Rudy Black, a reporter for "La Democracia" arranged a meeting between him and Eleanor Roosevelt. Muñoz Marin wanted her to examine Puerto Rico's problems personally and convinced her to travel to the main island. Bernier-Grand et al, p.53] Five months later, Roosevelt was received in Fort San Felipe del Morro and "La Fortaleza", before traveling to "El Fangito" a poor sector that had received the impact of an hurricane. Images from the visit were published by newspapers in Puerto Rico and the United States, which outraged former American governors that ruled over the archipelago, as well as the incumbent. Bernier-Grand et al, p.54] Following his wife's report, Franklin D. Roosevelt included Puerto Rico in the New Deal program. Muñoz Marin became a popular political figure due to his involvement in the program.

In 1937 political disagreements between Muñoz Marin and Antonio R. Barceló led to the expulsion of Muñoz Marín from the Liberal Party. This was mostly based on disagreements on how to bring independence to Puerto Rico. When a congressman wanted to "punish" Puerto Rico for the assassination of an American police officer, he proposed a bill called the "Tydings Bill". Bernier-Grand et al, p.55-56] Some idependence supporters wanted to support the bill, but Muñoz Marin disagreed comparing it to a principle known as "Ley de Fuga", where a police officer would arrest someone and kindly release him before shooting them in the back while retreating. This led to his expulsion, severely affecting his public image. He would then create a group named, the "Pro-Independence Social Action" ("Acción Social Independentista" known as "ASI") which would later give rise to the "Partido Liberal Neto, Auténtico y Completo" in opposition to the Liberal Party which Antonio R. Barceló headed.

In 1938, Muñoz Marín would help in the creation of the Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico ("Partido Popular Democratico"). The party's ideology promised to help the "jíbaros", regardless of political belief, promoting the creation of minimal wages, initiatives to provide food and water, cooperatives to work with the agriculture and the creation of more industrial altenatives. Bernier-Grand et al, p.58] 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 a solid participation, which was unexpected by the other political parties. Bernier-Grand et al, p.60] During his campaign he met Inés Mendoza, who would later become his second wife. Mendoza was a teacher that had been fired after complaing about the United States' prohibition of teaching classes in Spanish. Both discussed the matter and agreed that substituting "one language for another is to diminish that country's capacity to be happy". Bernier-Grand et al, p.61-62] Mendoza joined the capaign directed towards the "jíbaros". Muñoz Marín and Muna Lee had separated, and he asked Mendoza to "stay with him all his life". Bernier-Grand et al, p.63] Due to the party's low income, he would sometimes stay in the houses of some "jíbaros" during the night. Bernier-Grand et al, p.66]

President of the Senate

In 1940 the Popular Democratic Party won in the Senate of Puerto Rico, a result which was attributed to the campaigning he did in the rural areas. Muñoz Marín was then elected the fourth President of the Senate.cite web |url=|title=Muñoz Marín, Luis|accessdate=2007-10-01 |format= |work=Encyclopædia Britannica: Guide to Hispanic Heritage] A month later, Mendoza gave birth to a daughter, which was named Victoria, in commemoration of the victory. Bernier-Grand et al, p.73] During his term as President of the Senate, Muñoz was an advocate of the worker class of Puerto Rico. [cite web |url=|title=Puerto Rican Labor Movement|accessdate=2007-10-01 |format= |work=Center for History and New Media, George Mason University] Along with Governor Rexford Tugwell, the last non-Puerto Rican appointed Governor of Puerto Rico by an American President, and the republican-socialist coalition which headed the House of Representatives, he would help advance legislation geared towards agricultural reform, economic recovery and industrialization. This program became known as Operation Bootstrap. It was coupled with a program of agrarian reform (land redistribution) which limited the area that could be held by large sugarcane interests. In the first forty years of this century, Puerto Rico's dominant economic product were sugarcane byproducts (sugar and molasses) for mainly U.S. market. Operation Bootstrap enticed U.S. mainland investors to transfer or create manufacturing plants by granting them local and federal tax concessions, but maintaining the access to US markets free of import duties. Another incentive was were the lower wage scales in the densely populated island, which had a rising urban unemployed population.

The program accelerated the shift from an agricultural to an industrial society; and, today, sugar production plays a relatively minor role in the island's economy. The 1950s saw the development of labor-intensive light industries, such as textiles; manufacturing later gave way to heavy industry, such as petrochemicals and oil refining, in the 1960s and 1970s. "Jíbaros" were taught in Spanish and adriestated to work in jobs being promoted by the government. Bernier-Grand et al, p.74] Muñoz Marín backed legislation to limit the amount of land a company could own. Muñoz Marín's development programs brought some prosperity for an emergent middle class. The industrialization was in part fueled by generous local incentives, and freedom from federal taxation, while providing access to continental US markets without import duties. A rural agricultural society was transformed into an industrial working class. Muñoz Marín also launched "Operación Serenidad" (Operation Serenity), a series of projects geared towards promoting education and appreciation of the arts. [cite web |url= |title=Operación Serenidad|accessdate=2007-10-02 |format= |work=Fundación Luis Muñoz Marín es icon]

During the early stages of World War II several Puerto Ricans were drafted to serve in the United States Army, which eased overpopulation in the main island. Muñoz Marín promoted the construction of public housing projects to resolve this problem. Bernier-Grand et al, p.76] During the war he established low-interest scholarships and loans for the residents that weren't drafted. To attend health issues, costless public clinics were opened throughout Puerto Rico. In 1944 the Popular Democratic Party repeated the political victory of the previous elections. Muñoz Marín and Lee divorced on November 15, 1946. His decision to live with another woman without completing the process, attracted criticism from political adversaries. The following day, on November 16, 1946, Muñoz Marín married Inés Mendoza. The couple's first daughter was Viviana Muñoz Mendoza. After Congress approved legislation in 1947 allowing Puerto Ricans to elect their own Governor, Muñoz successfully campaigned for the post, thus becoming only the second Puerto Rican and the first democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico.


Muñoz Marin officially took office on January 2, 1949. He held the post of Governor for sixteen years, being re-elected again in the 1952, 1956 and 1960 elections. In 1957 Marín received an LL.D. from Bates College. Once the amount of illiteracy and other social problems were reduced, the party began debating how to establish an autonomous government. Bernier-Grand et al, p.80] Munoz Marin reunited with his government officials, the group agreed to adopt an "Associate Free State" format that had been proposed by Barceló decades before. In Spanish the proposal's name remained unchanged, but was changed to "Commonwealth" in English translations, to avoid opposition from any congressman that could confuse it with another status, such as statehood. The main goal of the proposal was to move Puerto Rico away from colonialism by giving it a degree of autonomy and a constitution, while keeping political ties with the United States. During his terms as governor, a Constituent Convention of Puerto Rico, of which he was a member, was convened in which the Constitution of Puerto Rico was drafted. It was approved by the United States Congress in 1952. Not pursuing Puerto Rican Independence angered many followers of Muñoz's Popular Democratic Party, who then formed the Puerto Rican Independence Party soon after. Bernier-Grand et al, p.81]

Another faction that confronted Muñoz for his change of status preference was the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico, led by Albizu Campos. On October 30, 1950 a group of Puerto Rican nationalists attacked the governor's mansion, La Fortaleza as part of a revolt which included the Jayuya Uprising. These acts angered Muñoz, who ordered the arrest of Albizu Campos. 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, with invitations being issued. Bernier-Grand et al, p.82] Muñoz Marín feared that the new status could affect the Puerto Rican culture or "Americanize" the archipelago's language. Bernier-Grand et al, p.83] Trying to work with this concern, the government began promoting cultural activities, founding the Pablo Casals Festival, Music Conservatory and Puerto Rico's Institute of Culture. In the 1950s, most jíbaros pursued works in factories instead of agriculture, trying to avoid having to deal with the losses that hurricanes produced. A massive migration from Puerto Rico to New York continued troughout the decade. Muñoz Marín expressed that the he "did not agree with" the "continuing situation", claiming that the "battle for good life, should not have all its emphasis placed on industrialization. Part of it must be placed on agrigulture." However, American critics felt that he encouraged the migration to reduce overpopulation. Despite efforst to produce more agricultural work, the migration persisted. Muñoz Marín was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on December 6, 1962, by United States President John F. Kennedy. [cite web|url=|title=Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient Luis Munoz-Marin|publisher=The Official Site of the Presidential Medal of Freedom|accessdate=2008-08-10]

By 1964, Muñoz Marín had been governor for sixteen years. A group of young members of the Popular Democratic Party felt that he should retire. Bernier-Grand et al, p.85] The group completed a proposal suggesting that he resign the position, which also included a limit of two terms for elective officials. The group named themseleves the "twenty-twos" and began running a campaign, where they would call civilians asking for support. Victoria, Muñoz Marín's younger daughter joined the group, which he didn't oppose. Bernier-Grand et al, p.86] The day before the party had an assembly to elect their candidates, he announced his decision of not running for another term. Muñoz Marín recommended his Secretary of State, Roberto Sánchez Vilella, for the party's candidacy. The crowd vocally protested his decision, calling for "four more years", to which he responded by saying "I am not your strength... You are your own strength." Sánchez Vilella would go on to be elected Governor.

Retirement, death and legacy

After leaving the post of Governor, Muñoz Marín would continue his public service as a member of the Puerto Rico Senate until 1970. In 1968, Muñoz had a serious dispute with Governor Sánchez Vilella. Muñoz, who was still an influential figure inside the Popular Democratic Party, decided to deny Governor Sánchez the opportunity to run for another term in 1968. Governor Sánchez then purchased the franchise of "The People's Party" ("Partido del Pueblo") and decided to run for governor under this new Party. Several members of the Popular Democratic Party voted for Sánchez, thus leading to the party's first electoral defeat, and the election of Luis A. Ferré. Muñoz Marín and Sánchez Vilella's friendship was severely strained after this.After resigning his senate seat in 1970, Muñoz Marín temporally moved to Italy, where his daughter, Viviana, had established residence. During this time, he traveled various destinations in Europe, including France, Spain and Greece. He would return to Puerto Rico two years earlier, where he began writing an autobiography. Bernier-Grand et al, p.87] He also promoted the gubernatorial candidacy of the senate's president Rafael Hernández Colón, the new leader of the Popular Democratic Party.

Late in his life, Muñoz Marín's health became affected. On January 5, 1976, he suffered a severe stroke, which had temporary effects in his ability to move, read and speak. Bernier-Grand et al, p.] On April 30, 1980, Luis Muñoz Marín died at the age of 82, after suffering complications from a severe fever, which left him without physical strength. Bernier-Grand et al, p.89] His funeral became an island-wide event, dwarfing his own father's funeral in 1916, and attended by tens of thousands of followers.

Muñoz's tenure as governor saw immense changes in Puerto Rico. The island was shifting from mainly rural to an urban society; second-generation Puerto Ricans in the United States now outnumber those from the archipelago. Puerto Rico achieved degrees of autonomy it never had seen; a constitution was written. However, to some, the idealist and nationalist of Muñoz's youth had required a Faustian accommodation with the might and wealth of United States. To some, Muñoz had abandoned the youthful adherence to Puerto Rican Independence and instead cemented Puerto Rico's current commonwealth status. Others see Luis Muñoz Marín as the person who heralded the modern Puerto Rico.

Muñoz Marín was featured twice on the cover of "Time" magazine. [cite web|url=,16641,1101490502,00.html|title=Luis Munoz Marin - May 2, 1949|publisher="Time"|accessdate=2008-08-10] [cite web|url=,16641,1101580623,00.html|title=Luis Munoz Marin - June 23, 1958|publisher="Time"|accessdate=2008-08-10] The articles called him "one of the most influential politicians in recent times, whose works will be remembered for years to come." His daughter, Victoria Muñoz Mendoza, also became involved in the politics of Puerto Rico, and in 1992 ran an unsuccessful campaign for Governor. The main civil airport on the island of Puerto Rico bears his namendash Luis Muñoz Marín International Airportndash as well as other institutions, particularly those directed towards education.

Political succession

See also

* List of Puerto Rican writers
* List of Puerto Ricans
* Puerto Rican literature
* List of Governors of Puerto Rico
* Puerto Rican Politics




External links

* [ Luis Muñoz Marín Foundation] es

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  • Luis Muñoz Marín — Luis Muñoz Marin Pour les articles homonymes, voir Muñoz. Luis Muñoz Marin est un ancien gouverneur de Porto Rico (1898 30 avril 1980) et l artisan du premier boom économique moderne de cette île; tout d abord farouche partisan de l indépendance… …   Wikipédia en Français

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