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Luis Munoz Marin: 1898-1980: Governor, Statesman Biography

Followed In Father's Footsteps, Found Himself Drawn Into Politics, Left Liberals To Start New Party

Widely recognized as "the father of modern-day Puerto Rico," Luis Munoz Marin served as the island's first elected governor from 1948 until early 1965, when he surrendered the governor's mansion to Popular Democratic Party protégé Robert Sanchez Vilella. Although as a young man he had set his sights on a career as a journalist and poet, Munoz Marin soon found himself drawn into island politics. He at first campaigned for independence from the United States but later modified his stand and guided the island to commonwealth status in 1952. Munoz Marin also spearheaded much-needed economic reforms for Puerto Rico and was the architect of Operation Bootstrap, which sharply accelerated economic growth on the island. Thomas Aitken Jr., in his biography of Munoz Marin, Poet in the Fortress, described the Puerto Rican statesman as a combination of opposites: "Poetry and politics, toughness and tenderheartedness, idealism and practicality, the colossal energy of the doer and the contemplative nature of the thinker."

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