This week marks the ten year anniversary of the death of Luis Ferré, a Puerto Rican leader whose life and work made him, in the words of the New York Times, “a dominant force in the politics, economy and culture of Puerto Rico.”
Ferré was an engineer by training, having graduated from MIT, and he also studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. This dual interest in the fine arts and in industry continued throughout his life as he built up his family’s business, Puerto Rico Iron Works, and established the Ponce Museum of Art.
Ferré served as Governor of Puerto Rico, and in both the Senate and House in Puerto Rico. He was also influential in the U.S. Republican Party, representing the GOP in Puerto Rico and supporting GOP leaders in the fifty states. He was a member of the assembly that drafted Puerto Rico’s constitution in 1952, one of the founders of the New Progressive Party, the publisher of El Nuevo Dia, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Honor.
In Ferré’s own words, he described himself as ”revolutionary in my ideas, liberal in my objectives and conservative in my methods.”
Ferré was a proponent of statehood for Puerto Rico. He rejected the current colonial status, as he described it, and stood against independence because the people of Puerto Rico are tied to the United States by family relationships as well as by history. “One would be hard-pressed,” he observed in testimony before a Senate committee in the 1980s, “to find a Puerto Rican without a sister in New York or a son in Chicago, a cousin in Orlando or a daughter in Honolulu or Oklahoma City.” Statehood was his lifelong dream, because he believed it would provide the best future for the people of Puerto Rico.
In nearly a full century of accomplishments and in his legacy of hope for Puerto Rico, Ferré continues to be a role model and an inspiration for Puerto Ricans and all Americans.
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