2 minute read

Sila María Calderón: 1942—: Governor of Puerto Rico

Elected Mayor Of San Juan

In 1995 Calderón ran for mayor of San Juan as a Popular Democrat against the powerful New Progressive party. Unlike her predecessors, she spoke in straightforward terms. Against Pedro Rosselló's call for island statehood, she favored commonwealth status. To Caribbean Business, she explained: "I appreciate and treasure my U.S. citizenship. I want my children and their children to always have it." In November of 1996 she won the election, obtaining 51 percent of the vote.

After two years Calderón began campaigning for governor. Boosting her appeal with voters were her plans to upgrade the water system, provide more housing, and improve workers' lives. On September 11, 2000, she delivered a Labor Day speech honoring Puerto Ricans and presenting her plans for a social contract promising greater sensitivity to workers' needs. She opposed adversity between government and labor and commended productivity and company competition. She vowed to extend the collaborative spirit in a program she called the Puerto Rican Project for Century 21.

At a Glance . . .

Born Sila Maria Calderón on September 23, 1942, in San Juan, Puerto Rico; daughter of César A. (a hotelier and ice cream manufacturer) and Sila Serra Calderón; married Adolfo Krans, an insurance broker (divorced, 2001); children: one son and two daughters. Education: Manhattanville College, 1964; University of Puerto Rico, 1972. Religion: Roman Catholic. Politics: Popular Democrat.

Career: Executive assistant to the secretary of labor, 1973; secretary of state, 1985; mayor of San Juan, 1996; governor of Puerto Rico, 2000–.

Awards: Chamber of Commerce honoraria, 1985, 1987; Woman of the Year, Product Association of Puerto Rico, 1986; Order of Isabel, Catholic Church, 1987; Leader of the Year, American Public Work Association, 1988; honorary doctorate, Manhattanville College, 1989; distinguished graduate, University of Puerto Rico, 1989; dedicatee, New York City's Puerto Rican Day, 2001.

Calderón attacked the poverty and isolation affecting more than forty percent of Puerto Ricans. In a speech on October 2, 2000, she denounced these ills as "unacceptable for any civilized society." After visiting 426 communities, she resolved to make available the agencies of health, housing, financial aid, and employment, and pledged a minimum of $200 million for socioeconomic development. She used as a model the 1992 empowerment project she directed in Península de Cantera that rehabilitated communities by promoting citizen initiative. To fight crime, she planned to appoint a drug czar and to enhance municipal policing. Her plans also called for health reform, electronic libraries, a longer school year, and an office of women's issues.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Katie Burke (1953–) Biography - Personal to Galeazzo Ciano (1903–1944) BiographySila María Calderón: 1942—: Governor of Puerto Rico Biography - Elected Mayor Of San Juan, Fought Government Corruption As Governor, Faced Off Against United States