Jesús T. Piñero

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Jesús T. Piñero
Jesus T. Piñero.jpg
Coat of arms of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.svg
Governor of Puerto Rico
In office
September 2, 1946 – January 2, 1949
President Harry S. Truman
Preceded by Rexford Guy Tugwell
Succeeded by Luis Muñoz Marín (elected governor)
Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico
In office
January 3, 1945 – September 2, 1946
Preceded by Bolívar Pagán
Succeeded by Antonio Fernós-Isern
Personal details
Born Jesús Toribio Piñero Jiménez
(1897-04-06)April 6, 1897
Carolina, Puerto Rico
Died November 16, 1952(1952-11-16) (aged 55)
Loíza, Puerto Rico
Political party Popular Democratic Party
Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Aurelia Bou Ledesma
Children 2 (Haydée, José Emilio)
Profession Politician, Engineer

Jesús T. Piñero (April 6, 1897 - November 16, 1952) was the first and only native Puerto Rican to be appointed governor of Puerto Rico by the Government of the United States.

Early years[edit]

Piñero (birth name: Jesús Toribio Piñero Jiménez [note 1]) was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico into a wealthy family with roots in the Canary Islands. He obtained his primary and secondary education in his hometown. In 1914, he attended the College of Liberal Arts of the University of Puerto Rico. He also attended the School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.[1]

Political career[edit]

Between 1920 and 1944, Piñero's interest in agriculture kept him engaged in the dairy business and in the cultivation of sugar cane. His interest in the agricultural development of Puerto Rico led him to participate in politics, particularly those concerning the issues of the cultivation of sugar cane and development of the industry.[1]

Between 1928 and 1932, a period during which Puerto Rico's internal government was still run by continental Americans appointed by the President of the United States, Piñero was president of the Assembly of the Municipality of Carolina. Between 1934 and 1937, he was the president of the Association of the Sugar Cane Industry and was elected to the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico.[1]

In 1938, Piñero was one of the founders, along with Luis Muñoz Marín, of the Popular Democratic Party. In the elections of 1940, he was elected to the House of Representatives. In 1944 he was elected as Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, and represented the island in the United States House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.. His position did not have voting powers in Congress.[1]

First Puerto Rican governor appointed by the U.S.[edit]

Piñero (on right) with Truman

In 1946, President Harry S. Truman relieved Governor Rexford Guy Tugwell, who had served in this position from 1941 from the governorship and named Piñero governor in his place, the first native Puerto Rican appointed to that post under U.S. administration. A Bill was introduced before the Puerto Rican Senate which would restrain the rights of the independence and nationalist movements in the island. The Senate at the time was controlled by the PPD and presided by Luis Muñoz Marín[2] The Bill, also known as the "Ley de la Mordaza" (gag Law) passed the approval of the legislature on May 21, 1948. It made it illegal to display a Puerto Rican flag, to sing a patriotic tune, to talk of independence, and to fight for the liberation of the island. The Bill, which resembled the anti-communist Smith Law passed in the United States, was signed and made into law on June 10, 1948, by Piñero and became known as "Ley 53" (Law 53).[3] In accordance to the new law, it would be a crime to print, publish, sale, to exhibit or organize or to help anyone organize any society, group or assembly of people whose intentions are to paralyze or destroy the insular government. Anyone accused and found guilty of disobeying the law could be sentenced to ten years of prison, be fined $10,000 dollars (US) or both.

According to Dr. Leopoldo Figueroa, a member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, the law was repressive and was in violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution which guarantees Freedom of Speech. He pointed out that the law as such was a violation of the civil rights of the people of Puerto Rico.[4][5]

Piñero served as governor until 1949, when Puerto Rico celebrated its first popular election for the position. Luis Muñoz Marín of the PPD was elected governor.[1] During his administration, legislation was passed that later served as the basis for the economic development plan known as Operation Bootstrap. Plans for the construction of a new international airport for the Island were also drawn up during his governorship. From 1947 to 1951, Piñero served as U.S. representative to the Caribbean Commission.

Death[edit]

Jesús T. Piñero died on November 16, 1952 in the town of Loíza, and was buried in his hometown, Carolina.

Legacy and honors[edit]

  • A high school, public housing complex, and a principal avenue in San Juan and in Cayey have been named for him.
  • Carolina commissioned and installed a monument of him sculpted by Jose Buscaglia Guillermety; it is located at the entrance of the town. T
  • The Agriculture building at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez is also named after him.
  • Piñero's personal papers and memorabilia are deposited at the Piñero Collection at the Universidad del Este in Carolina, Puerto Rico.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^
    This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Piñero and the second or maternal family name is Jiménez.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bolívar Pagán
Resident Commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Puerto Rico

1945-1946
Succeeded by
Antonio Fernós-Isern
Government offices
Preceded by
Rexford Tugwell
Governor of Puerto Rico
1946-1949
Succeeded by
Luis Muñoz Marín