Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-1995
Jesús Piñero was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico on April 16, 1897. He attended the School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and in 1914 he graduated from the College of Liberal Arts of the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras.
From 1920 to 1944 Piñero engaged in sugar cane cultivation and the dairy business, and was keenly interested in the agricultural development of Puerto Rico. This interest led him to political activity, particularly concerning issues of sugar cane cultivation. In 1928 he began his political career as a member of the municipal assembly of Carolina. He later became president of the assembly and served until 1932. In 1935, he was appointed to the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration.
In 1940 Piñero was one of the founders of the Popular Democratic Party, headed by Luis Muñoz Marín. The same year he was elected to the Puerto Rico House of Representatives and began a four-year term. In 1944 he was elected Resident Commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served on the Committees on Agriculture, Insular and Interior Affairs, Labor, Military Affairs, Naval Affairs, and Territories. At the request of the Legislature of Puerto Rico, Piñero introduced a bill which provided for a referendum allowing the people of Puerto Rico to choose between independence, statehood, or a dominion status. He also submitted a bill to establish a permanent political status for the Island by mutual agreement between the people of Puerto Rico and the Government of the United States. Although this bill did not pass, Piñero set the groundwork for his successor, Antonio Fernós-Isern, who continued working towards increased self-government for Puerto Rico.
In September 1946 Piñero resigned as Resident Commissioner when President Harry S. Truman appointed him the first Puerto Rican Governor of the Island, a position he held until December 1948. He died in Loiza, Puerto Rico on November 19, 1952.
For further reading:
Figueroa, Javier. Diccionario histórico biográfico. Madrid: Ediciones R Madrid, 1976.