The year 1898 is an important date for Puerto Ricans. It is the year the United States gained the island from Spain. It is also the birth year of Luis Muñoz Marín, who showed how to use that freedom.
Muñoz spent most of his youth in the United States. In 1910, Marín and his family moved from New York City to Washington, D.C., and Muñoz Marín went to Georgetown University.
In 1920, Muñoz returned to Puerto Rico. There he was elected to Puerto Rico's Senate. He fought hard for the interests of Puerto Rico's poor people. Also, he fought for Puerto Rico's independence from the United States in the 1930s.
During World War II, Marín started a program called Operation Bootstrap. This program encouraged Puerto Ricans to help themselves by improving health, education, and farming methods and creating new industry.
In 1949, Luis Muñoz Marín became Puerto Rico's first elected governor. As governor, Marín started Operation Commonwealth. Its goal was to achieve more self-rule from the United States. In 1952, Puerto Rico succeeded in becoming a commonwealth of the United States.
The last phase of Marín's great plan was called Operation Serenidad (Serenity). He felt that Puerto Ricans might enjoy life more if they could enjoy the arts. Operation Serenidad encouraged development and enjoyment of the arts in Puerto Rico.
In 1964, Muñoz Marín decided not to run for a fifth term as governor of Puerto Rico. Marín continued to contribute to Puerto Rico, however, by returning to his Senate seat. Luis Muñoz Marín died in 1980.
Information taken from Hispanics in U.S. History-1865 to the present, Vol. 2, Globe Book Company 1989.
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