Don Luis Muñoz Marín
The Father of Puerto Rico
1898-1980

Luis Muñoz Marín

Poet, grassroots politician, governor of Puerto Rico, and inspired orator of the Popular Democratic Party.

Don Luis Muñoz Marín was the first elected governor of Puerto Rico and its chief political leader for over 25 years. Previous governors had been appointed by the President of the United States. In 1952, under his leadership, Puerto Rico became a self-governing commonwealth of the United States.

Muñoz Marín's policies and programs transformed Puerto Rico's economy, politics, and society. His main goal was the economic development of the island. He accomplished this by building up the educational system tremendously, at all levels, and by using tax breaks to induce U.S. companies to locate manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico. His Operation Bootstrap was a comprehensive development program that brought land reform, roads, and schools to neglected areas of Puerto Rico. As a result of Operation Bootstrap, nine companies established plants on the island in 1947; 16 came the next year; 83 five years later. Within a decade the island's gross domestic product of 1947 had doubled. Puerto Rico's economy had begun to bloom.

Muñoz Marín was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on February 18th, 1898.. He was the son of Luis Muñoz Rivera, who was instrumental in obtaining a measure of home rule from Spain in 1897 and U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans in 1917. Luis Muñoz Marín was educated at Georgetown University in Washington DC where he studied law. Muñoz Marín served as governor of Puerto Rico from 1949 to 1965. He died in San Juan in 1980.


After completing his education Muñoz Marín went on to work in New York City as a freelance writer and translator for ten years. In 1926 he returned to Puerto Rico, serving as editor and publisher of the newspaper La Democracia, founded by his father. Luis Muñoz Marín joined the new Liberal Party which supported independence for Puerto Rico. In 1932, he was elected to the Puerto Rico Legislature as a senator. After leaving the Liberal party in 1937, he founded the Popular Democratic Party, which was dedicated to improving the lives of the campesinos (peasants) and to building a closer relationship with the United States.

In 1940 his party won control of the legislature and he became President of the senate. In 1948, Muñoz Marín became the first governor to be elected by the people of Puerto Rico, rather than appointed from Washington. Re-elected in 1952, he became the first governor of the newly created Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. He was again reelected in 1956 and 1960. In 1968 Muñoz Marín was elected to a 4-year term in the Puerto Rican senate.

Because he brought prosperity to the island Luis Muñoz Marín is known as the "Father of Puerto Rico."    Today he is honored not only in Puerto Rico but also in New York with airports, schools, and streets that carry his name. The United States Postal Service printed a Commemorative Stamp in his honor in 1990.

 

1990 US Postage Stamp
Commemorative Stamp in honor of Luis Muñoz Marín

 

 

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