Ferré Aguayo, Luis Antonio (1904–2003)

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Ferré Aguayo, Luis Antonio (1904–2003)

Luis Antonio Ferré Aguayo (b. 1904 d. 2003) businessman, politician, and leading advocate of Puerto Rican statehood. Born into a wealthy Cuban family in 1904, Ferré spent his early years achieving commercial success. Through ventures such as the Puerto Rican Cement Company of Ponce, his hometown, Ferré added significantly to his family's fortune. His experience in business convinced him that Puerto Rico's future rested in North Americanstyle capitalism. He became a leader of Puerto Rico's statehood movement and closely allied himself with the mainland Republican Party.

In 1951 Ferré was elected to Puerto Rico's constitutional convention. After 1952 Ferré and his brother-in-law, Miguel A. García Méndez, assumed leadership of the Republican Statehood Party (PER). Business successes such as the Puerto Rican Cement Company and philanthropic endeavors such as Ponce's art gallery brought Ferré widespread respect. While cultivating friendships among Eisenhower Republicans, Ferré appealed to the Puerto Rican working and middle classes by touting the economic benefits of statehood. Although badly losing the 1956 gubernatorial election to his rival, Luis Muñoz Marín, Ferré continued to develop a mass following. His defeat notwithstanding, PER demonstrated respectable electoral strength in urban centers such as San Juan, where a new middle class was taking shape. Ferré again ran for governor in 1964, but lost to Muñoz's handpicked successor, Roberto Sánchez Vilella.

In the 1967 plebiscite regarding Puerto Rico's status, Ferré led an alliance favoring statehood, the United Statehooders, and gained a respectable 38.9 percent of the vote. Again displaying urban electoral muscle in San Juan and Ponce, the Statehooders had high hopes for the 1968 elections. They were not disappointed. Ferré and the Statehooders organized a new party, the New Progressive Party (PNP), under whose banner Ferré won a narrow victory in the November 1968 gubernatorial race. Ferré served only one term as governor (1969–1973), but remained a leading PNP personality. He maintained close contacts with Republican presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan, and in November 1991 received the Medal of Freedom from President George Bush. His daughter, Rosario Ferré, is a well known novelist and short story writer.

See alsoFerré, Rosario; Puerto Rico.


Carrión, Arturo Morales. Puerto Rico: A Political and Cultural History. Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 1983.

Nelson, Anne. Murder Under Two Flags: The U.S., Puerto Rico, and the Cerro Maravilla Cover-up. New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1986.

Knight, Franklin W. The Caribbean: The Genesis of a Fragmented Nationalism, 2d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

                                         John J. Crocitti

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