Miguel A. García Méndez
Miguel Angel García Méndez (November 17, 1902 - November 17, 1998) was a businessman, lawyer, statesman, and banker in Puerto Rico. He was a lifelong statehood supporter for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. He was known as "El Pitirre" because of his skills in political debates and ability to mesmerize crowds while speaking in public.
García Méndez was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. He commenced his law studies in 1917 at the age of 15 in the University of Puerto Rico. He graduated in 1920 at the age of 19. The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico would not license anyone to practice law under the age of 21. He was however, permitted take the bar exam but, was not officially licensed until 1922.
His first job after graduating was in the law office of his brothers Juan B. Garcia Mendez (who had gained a great reputation as a civil practice lawyer) and Manuel A. Garcia Mendez (who was recognized as a proficient criminal practice lawyer). He became a judge in San German and Sabana Grande for a short period of time before opening his own law practice in San German.
García Méndez was a member of the Puerto Rican Alliance and in the elections of 1928, was elected to the House of Representatives by the electoral district 18. By 1932, he was a member of the Republican Union Party and was named to the first Territorial Executive Committee of the Republican Union Party . In the elections of that year he was re-elected to the House of Representatives by the same district. In the following elections he was re-elected to the House. This time as an at-large candidate (state-wide).
He became the youngest person to be elected as President of the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico, at the age of 30, starting his first term in 1933. He was reelected for the term of 1937-1941.
In 1939, there was a movement to unify the liberal and the labor party members, dissidents of the Socialist Party. These movement caused his withdrawal from the Republican Union Party and his collaboration in the organization of which came to be known as Tripartite Puerto Rican Unification. That same year García Méndez introduced the House Bill 598 creating the Industrial Development Corp. which would promote the economic development of Puerto Rico. The bill was never signed by Gov. Blanton C. Winship. Three years later however, the Industrial Development Co. was created.
In 1940, he ran as candidate of the Unification for Resident Commissioner and in 1941 was chosen vice-president of that political collectivity. When this party was dissolved in 1944, he began to organize the Progressive Republican Union Party which in 1948 became the Puerto Rican Statehood Party and in 1953 the Republican Statehood Party. In 1952, he was chosen president of the party and elected in that year's election as Senator at large, position from which he resigned. He was re-elected for the same position in the elections of 1956, 1960, and 1964.
In 1952 the year in which Constitution of Puerto Rico was adopted, creating the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, García Méndez was a member of the Constitutional Convention of Puerto Rico. In 1956, he founded the Partido Estadista Republicano, the Republican Statehood Party and was a Delegate to the Republican National Convention from Puerto Rico in 1964.
As head of the Republican Statehood Party, Garcia Mendez boycotted a 1967 vote in Puerto Rico over the island's political relationship with the United States, saying he objected because the results would be non-binding. His position caused a serious division within the party that caused the exit of numerous party members who went on to found the New Progressive Party, among them his wife's brother-in-law Luis A. Ferre. The division caused the Party to be dissolved after the 1968 elections when it did not poll the number of votes necessary to retain its party registration.
The following are García Méndez's business endeavors in chronological order:
1920-1932: Director and Secretary for the Board of Directos of "Banco Caja de Economias y Prestamos de San German".
1937-1940: Member of "Junta de Sindicos" of the University of Puerto Rico.
1940: Presided "Asociacion de Productores de Azucar de Puerto Rico".
Founding Partner of the Banker's Club, Puerto Rico.
In the 1960s he co-founded with Efrain Kier the construction company "Atlantic Quality Construction" in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Later on Leon Rubin joined them. The same constructed the Beach Tower and Park Plaza in Isla Verde, the Ashford Imperial in Condado among others.
In the 1970s he bought the newspaper El Imparcial. The building of said newspaper was destroyed in a fire which causes have never been known, and for that same reason the newspaper was shut down.
- Puerto Rico, Eslabon de las Americas.
- La Universidad de Puerto Rico como Universidad Panamericana.
- Cartas al Pueblo.
- La Solucion al Status Politico Final de Puerto Rico.
He married Fredeswinda Ramirez de Arellano Bartoli on June 25, 1926 in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. He had two daughters, Ileana and Fredewsinda. García Méndez died on November 17, 1998, his 96th birthday, in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.
In 1920 upon graduating from the University of Puerto Rico he received a prize from the University of Princeton for his thesis on Constitutional Law.
On 1993 the "Asociacion Productos de Puerto Rico" presents him with the prize named "Industrial Emeritus Antonio R. Barcelo" for his long and brilliant career as an industrialist in Puerto Rico.
On November 17, 1999 the Puerto Rico House of Representatives declared November 17 the official day of Miguel Angel Garcia Mendez.
On a bill passed by United States Congress there is United States Post Office building in Mayagüez, his hometown, which bears his name. and there is also an avenue "Avenida Miguel Angel Garcia Mendez" in his honor.
Public law #19 (Ley Núm. 19) of June 16, 2005, permitted the creation of the Miguel Ángel García Méndez Legislative Oratory Prize (Premio Legislativo à la Oratoria Miguel Ángel García Méndez)