Historic Photo of the Day: Night of the Living Muñoz Marín

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony


Luis Muñoz Marín had a serious opium habit. Once in a while it showed.

The man on foot in this photo is Rexford G. Tugwell.

He had been governor of Puerto Rico for five years, from Sept. 19, 1941 to Sept. 2, 1946.

This photo was taken in late December 1946, at a publisher’s reception in honor of Tugwell’s new book on Puerto Rico, The Stricken Land.

Jesus Piñero was now the US-appointed governor, and preparations were underway for the first-ever elected Puerto Rican governor – elected by the island voters themselves.

Luis Muñoz Marín, the president of the PPD Party and President of the Puerto Rico Senate, was in line to be that first elected governor.

That is him sitting down, smoking his last inch of cigarette, looking sideways at the photographer.

Notice the hand on Rexford Tugwell’s hip. The tight expression in his mouth. His legs spread apart. The way he glares at the camera.

Tugwell is challenging the photographer. He does not want this photo to be taken.


The answer is right in front of him.

The future Governor of Puerto Rico is sitting there, smoking a cigarette down to its nub.

His eyes are swollen, and blacker than a raccoon’s. He can’t even face the camera.

Muñoz Marín had just arrived after one of his famous drug binges, and this photographer was insistent on taking a photo.

The body language of both men says it all: “Don’t take this photo, you schmuck!”

This photographer was probably not invited to another government party – but it was worth it.

He left the world a work of art: Night of the Living Muñoz Marín.


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