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Sila Calderón Serra
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Governor of Puerto Rico
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Order: 7th Democratically Elected Governor
Term of Office: January 2, 2001January 2, 2005
Predecessor: Pedro Rosselló González
Successor: Aníbal Acevedo Vilá
Date of Birth: Sunday, September 23, 1942
Place of Birth: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Husband: Divorced
Profession: Business Woman
Political Party: Popular Democratic Party
Resident Commissioner: Aníbal Acevedo Vilá (2001-2005)

Sila María Calderón Serra (born September 23, 1942) was the seventh Democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico from 2001 to 2005. She is the only woman ever elected to that office. Prior to being Governor, Calderón held various positions in the Government of Puerto Rico, including Secretary of State and Chief of Staff. She was also Mayor of San Juan, the Capital of Puerto Rico.



Sila María grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico and attended high school at the Sacred Heart Academy in Santurce. In 1960 she attended Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York. In 1964 she graduated with a degree in Political Science. In 1970, her graduate studies led her to the School of Public Administration at the University of Puerto Rico where she graduated with a masters in Public Administration in 1972.

Political career

Her political career began in 1973 when she was named executive assistant to the Labor Secretary and Special Assistant to then Governor, Rafael Hernández Colón. Calderon became the first woman Chief of Staff in Puerto Rico in 1985. Later, she served as Secretary of State and Lieutenant Governor.

She took a hiatus from politics in 1992 and served on the board of directors of several corporations such as Banco Popular and non-profit organizations such as The Sister Isolina Ferré Foundation.

Mayor of San Juan

She returned to politics and was elected mayor of the city of San Juan in 1996. As mayor, she sponsored various urban projects to revitalize Rio Piedras, Santurce, Condado and other deteriorated sections of the city. She initiated a "Special Communities Program" to assist poor communities and foster community volunteering.

In 2000 she set her sights for the governor's seat. She led the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) during a heated and close campaign for Governor against Carlos Pesquera (PNP) and Ruben Berrios (PIP). With her victory, she became the first elected female governor in the history of Puerto Rico.


Calderón's administration objectives dealt with issues such as Vieques (see Navy-Vieques protests), the fight against drugs and the extension to the rest of the island of the "Special Communities Programs".

Although a firm believer in the current Commonwealth relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States, an unsuccessful attempt was made in 2002 to discuss mechanisms to resolve the political status dispute that faces Puerto Rico among the three major political parties.

Her administration was characterized by frequent changes of the members of her cabinet; including four different Police Superintendents. During her term, crime became a major issue.

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Governor Calderon speaks with the King of Spain HM Juan Carlos I.

Calderón announced in the summer of 2003 that she would not seek re-election in the 2004 Puerto Rican elections. That same year she married Ramón Cantero Frau, a former member of her cabinet. It was only the second time a wedding ceremony had been carried at La Fortaleza, official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico, since Roberto Sánchez Vilella did so in 1966. The ceremony became a media event that was transmitted live on Puerto Rican television.

On May 26, 2004, Calderón had to deal with a man who entered La Fortaleza, governor's mansion, with a knife and took a receptionist hostage, demanding to speak directly with Calderón. After Calderón negotiated with the hostage taker, the man dropped the knife and surrendered to police.

Her daughter,Sila Mari Gonzalez who together with her sister María Elena González served as "First Ladies" while her mother was Governor of Puerto Rico, was elected to the Senate of Puerto Rico on November 2004.

Retirement and Legacy

After her term ended, Calderón retired from public life. A few months after leaving office, Calderón divorced from her husband Ramón Cantero Frau. Her administration was characterized by having very few cases of corruption, but at the same time, few major infrastructure projects were carried out and the Puerto Rican economy, as most of the world's economies, entered a recession after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Also, the constant personel changes in her Cabinet were criticized.

Other accomplishments

  • 1958, 1975 and 1997 - The Chamber of Commerce of Puerto Rico awarded her for outstanding public service.
  • 1986 - The Association of Puerto Rican Products designated her as one of the outstanding women of the year.
  • 1987 - Inducted into the Order of Isabel the Catholic ("Orden Isabel la Católica") by the Spanish Government
  • 1988 - The American Association of Public Works awarded her as "Leader of the Year" in the field of Public Works
  • 1989 - Manhattanville College awarded her as Distinguished Alumni.
  • 1997 - Manhattanville College awarded her a Honoris Causa Doctorate in Arts and Humanities.

See also

External links


  1. La Fortaleza. Nuestra Gobernadora ( San Juan, Puerto Rico: Government of Puerto Rico. 2001.

Preceded by:
Pedro Juan Rosselló González
Governor of Puerto Rico
Succeeded by:
Aníbal Acevedo Vilá

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