On three separate occasions – in 1935, 1943 and 1945 – the U.S. offered Puerto Rico its independence. Each time, the political leaders of Puerto Rico rejected it.
The chief opponent to this independence was Luís Muñoz Marín.
Not just once, but on all three occasions, Muñoz Marín hurried up to Washington, D.C. to testify against the independence of Puerto Rico. Here is a headline from 1935: the front page of El Imparcial newspaper.
This front page headline threw Muñoz Marín into a panic. Repeatedly he told the U.S. Congress, that if they approved the independence bill of Senator Millard Tydings, then Puerto Rico would “physically perish within five years.”
In opposing the Tydings independence bill, Muñoz Marín even defied his own government. In 1945 eleven of nineteen senators, twenty-two of thirty-nine representatives, and forty-two of seventy-three mayors favored the Tydings bill.
All told, 57 percent of Puerto Rico’s democratically elected representatives officially supported independence. The unofficial percentage was probably higher, since many elected officials were hesitant to contradict their leader and party president, Muñoz Marín.
Despite this 57 percent, Muñoz Marín flew up to Washington and testified, under oath, that the people of Puerto Rico were opposed to the Tydings independence bill.
This was a strange flip-flop on the part of Muñoz Marín. His party, the PPD, had always campaigned with the slogan of PAN…TIERRA…LIBERTAD.
But after he gained office, and after he became governor, Muñoz Marín forgot about the “LIBERTAD” part of his platform.
In 1946, Muñoz Marín abandoned the pretense of supporting any form of independence for Puerto Rico.
In a two-day conclave of the Popular Democratic Party (the PPD) on July 3 and July 4, 1946, he announced that he was no longer an independentista. After a furious ten-hour debate, filled with threats and arm-twisting, the PPD adopted Muñoz Marín’s position and dropped independence from its platform.
The announcement was made on July 4.
Two years later, Muñoz Marín became the first “democratically elected” governor of Puerto Rico.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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