As of April 1943, the FBI had extremely damaging information about Luis Muñoz Marín’s personal life. He had a “Puerto Rican inferiority complex.” He “abandoned his wife and children,” was a “heavy drinker” and “utterly unprincipled,” with “no ideals whatsoever.” He also “had no profession” and was “living with his mistress.”
But this information could apply to many politicians, both in the US and Puerto Rico. The really damaging information was this:
Luis Muñoz Marín was a narcotics addict. He was smoking opium. After he became governor, he smoked it in the governor’s mansion. This lifelong addiction began during his “bohemian” years in New York City, and continued well into his retirement, after he was no longer governor.
The FBI, and the US government, never released this information. Instead, they used the threat of releasing it to control him, and to control the island’s politics for nearly 30 years.
Luis Muñoz Marín stopped advocating for independence, and suddenly became the principal agent for Puerto Rico “Commonwealth” status. Once he became governor of this new “Commonwealth,” Muñoz Marín and the FBI entered into an unholy marriage.
Like many marriages, this one was full of manipulation and self-dealing.
When he passed Public Law 53 (the Gag Law) in 1948, which made it a felony to be “disloyal” to the United States, many “disloyal” people started appearing on secret FBI lists, including these:
Take a good look at that list. It includes a senator, a district attorney, five city councilmen, the mayor of Caguas, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Everyone on the list – all 34 of them – are public employees.
In other words, being on this FBI “disloyalty” list could cost a person their career. With the right amount of pressure, they could be fired from their job at any time…even the Speaker of the House of Representatives!
No one was safe from the FBI, and Muñoz Marín knew it.
Over time, he used these “disloyalty lists” to arrest whomever he wanted, and to eliminate political opponents. The “lists” became an instrument of social, economic and political control: a deck of marked playing cards with Muñoz Marín as the crooked dealer, handing out whatever cards he saw fit.
All Muñoz Marín had to do, was tag someone as “disloyal” to the United States. The FBI would take it from there.
This game become most apparent after the Nationalist uprising of October 1950: Muñoz Marín immediately tapped into Cold War McCarthyism, both on national radio and in the New York Times, saying that the uprising was a “conspiracy against democracy helped by the Communists.”
Two days later, Muñoz Marín was still hammering on the “Communist” theme, telling the New York Times that “Nationalists are being used by the Communists…the Nationalists are having their lunacy, fanaticism and irresponsibility manipulated for the benefit of Communist propaganda and strategy.”
But the manipulator was really Muñoz Marín.
He knew that his “Communist” allegations were untrue…but he also knew that they would distract the American public, and compel J. Edgar Hoover to send several hundred more FBI agents down to Puerto Rico.
Muñoz Marín had already passed a Gag Law (La Ley de la Mordaza) to silence the entire island, and to intimidate his political opponents. He already had thousands of secret FBI files (carpetas) opened on those opponents. He placed thousands more on the “disloyalty” lists.
Now he manipulated the FBI into sending hundreds more FBI agents…whom he could use as his own private army, against Albizu Campos and the Nationalists.
FBI Director Hoover often complained that “Gov. Muñoz Marín wants his own banana republic, with American air conditioning.” This was an accurate and astute observation.
The US government turned Luis Muñoz Marín into a lapdog. The FBI had him on a very short leash – but he knew exactly how to yank on that leash, to his own personal advantage.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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