||Friday, November 7th 2008 [ versión español ]
“La patria de todas las manos que trabajan!
Para ellas y para su patria! Alabanza!”
(The homeland of all the working hands!
For themselves and for their country! Praise!)
Juan Antonio Corretjer, Oubao Moin
He was a warrior of the light, a man of sound character and an untiring fighter whom from the start, has never faltered upon his principles. That is how Alexis Massol González, a civil engineer, remembered the Puerto Rican National poet, Juan Antonio Corretjer, on his one-hundredth birthday.
His expressions were part of the conference, Corretjer: Vivo en la memoria (Corretjer: Alive in Our Memories) which was recently celebrated at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM), as an event sponsored by the Cultural Agenda of the Humanities Department.
Massol González, who is a cultural promoter and UPRM graduate from Engineering, shared his experience of knowing one of the most important Puerto Rican literary and political figures, who wrote works such as Alabanza en la torre de Ciales (Praise in the Tower of Ciales) y Pausa para el amor (Pause for Love).
The event included the presentation of the documentary, Yo, Juan Antonio Corretjer Montes, a compilation of narratives and reflections by various personages of the Puerto Rican cultural scene, Massol among them, who highlight the social and political contributions of Corretjer, for example, his view on the fight for Puerto Rican independence.
“Correjer taught us the real meaning of the phrase “liberty or death” which lies in a progressive course beyond worrying… suggesting alternatives,” stated Massol.
Massol is the founder and director of the organization, Casa Pueblo Community Self-management, of Adjuntas, which in 2002 received international recognition, the Goldman Environmental Prize, which is equivalent to an environmental Nobel prize. This award recognized the transformation of a mining project in the forest, managed by the community; which, also at the same time developed projects of community self-management in the area of environmental and economic sustainability.
As Massol explains it, through scientific, community, and cultural equations, Casa Pueblo has developed diverse projects of community self-management that have had local, regional and national impact. These include the projects of economic self-management, Café Madre Isla, the creation of an ideal ecosystem for butterfly reproduction, the construction of a hydroponic cultivation system and the well-known anti-mining struggle, in which Corretjer actively participated.
“At the beginning of the struggle no one listened to us, but Don Juan taught us how to think. We put forth an artistic fuse as a strategy in the fight against the exploitation of the copper mines in Adjuntas. We suggested the idea to have a forest in the place where they had chosen to exploit the mines,” commented Massol.
In Massol’s opinion, Juan Antonio Corretjer’s greatest contribution was to have put forward a lesson in humility that stems from his outstanding leadership and striking personality.
“Don Juan didn’t believe in being the star or in being adored. He always encouraged respect towards everyone. He fervently believed in the need to listen to the wise people of the town,” mentioned Massol.
The event ended with an exchange of ideas between those present and the guest speaker, who extended an invitation to those present to visit Casa Pueblo, located in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. The organization also has a website, for more information you may visit http://www.casapueblo.org.
Alexis Massol González, a civil engineer, remembered the Puerto Rican National poet, Juan Antonio Corretjer.
Massol was the guest speaker of the conference Corretjer: Vivo en la memoria, recently celebrated at the UPRM.
Photographs by Carlos Díaz / UPRM Press