During the New Year, we make resolutions in order to improve our lives and reach our full potential. Luis Munoz Rivera, who was born in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico on July 17, 1859, made a difference in the world and reached his full potential by helping to create autonomy in Puerto Rico. Monserrate Rivera Vazquez, Rivera’s mother, brought out the greatness in her son as she home schooled him using a private library owned by his father, Luis Munoz Barrios. As his first teacher, his mother did a wonderful job providing Munoz Rivera with an excellent education. When Munoz Rivera was 10 years old, he attended school and was the first in his class. As a young man, Munoz Rivera was an excellent student who read all the classics; he enjoyed reading all of Miguel de Cervantes works, especially Don Quixote. When he was 23, his poems were published. Braschi, the editor who published his poems, told him to write about politics.
Through his political writings, Munoz Rivera started an autonomist party with the hope of creating a separate government for Puerto Rico. During this time, Puerto Rico was under the rule of Spain. Munoz Rivera made speeches and wrote articles for the jibaro population in Puerto Rico, which inspired the Puerto Rican people to support the quest for freedom in their homeland. He founded “La Democracia,” the autonomist party’s newspaper. In this publication, Munoz Rivera wrote about politics: there were also stories and poems by other talented Puerto Ricans. When Munoz Rivera was arrested, he fought even harder to fulfill his dream of freedom for his beloved homeland.
As a political activist, Munoz Rivera also wrote for other prestigious newspapers: El Territorio, El Diario and the Puerto Rican Herald. On November 15, 1916, Munoz Rivera died and did not live to see his dream come true, but other generations of Puerto Ricans saw freedom in their country. Due to the hard work of Munoz Rivera, President Wilson signed the Jones Act into law on March 2, 1917, which finally made Puerto Rico autonomy. Munoz Rivera passed on the torch of political activism to his son, Luis Munoz Marin who became the first democratically elected governor of Puerto Rico in 1948.
In Newark, New Jersey, there is a bust of Luis Munoz Rivera at Washington Park, so that other generations will remember the great liberator of Puerto Rico. Luis Munoz Marin School in Newark, New Jersey, is named after Munoz Rivera’s son who followed in his father’s footsteps.