Political Independence

In 1947, the United States for the first time granted Puerto Ricans the right to elect their own governor. The hands-down winner was Luis Muñoz Marín, son of a former political leader and champion of the jíbaro peasantry. An advocate of practical change and improving living standards rather than quibbling over the island's political status, he gained the confidence of both a majority of Puerto Ricans and the US government. The island was granted a constitutional government the following year, and in 1951 residents overwhelmingly voted to become a commonwealth of the United States, a.k.a. a "free associated state" (see Government, page 11). Supporters of independence became increasingly marginalized and militant and, during the 1950s, nationalist radicals attacked the governor's mansion in San Juan, attempted to assassinate President Harry Truman in Washington DC and opened fire on the US House of Representatives, injuring four statesmen. The majority of Puerto Ricans, however, seemed to agree with the adage, "Better the devil you know... " - especially if he has deep pockets.

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