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Panama: Remembering Raúl Leis

On April 30, 2011, Panamanian sociologist and writer Raúl Leis unexpectedly passed away.

After his death, biographies and reviews have been published in newspapers and blogs, all highlighting his achievements, contributions and commitment to Panamanian society. There are also emotional words of farewell and reminders of his legacy.

In newspaper La Prensa, Daniel Domínguez [es] explains why Raúl Leis was a ‘complete’ author, and he describes his achievements in several literary genres.

Photo of Raúl Leis, used with Raúl Leis Arce's permission.

Photo of Raúl Leis, used with Raúl Leis Arce's permission.

Literary blogs Minitextos [es] and Directorio de Escritores Vivos de Panamá [es] updated his biography, where readers can also find his trajectory and thus understand the feelings of all those familiar with his work.

But besides biographies and lists of achievements, bloggers are also discussing the mark that he left behind.

In the blog Internatural [es], Edilberto González Trejos describes how he reacted to the news on May 1:

me sorprende en Argentina, como un golpe bajo, como una mala pasada del hado, la noticia del fallecimiento de RAÚL LEIS.

The news of the death of Raul Leis took me by surprise in Argentina, like a low blow, like a trick from fate.

González Trejos [es] remembers the last time he saw him, highlighting his character and the feelings his death leaves behind:

Lúcido, de trato afable, comprometido y sensible ante el entorno en que le tocó vivir, fue referencia vital desde mis años de secundaria.

Con aquel vacío de la gente valiosa, necesaria que se nos va, no queda si no afrontar los compromisos de mi generación, nuestra generación, tomar la posta.

Lucid, affable, committed and sensitive to the environment in which he lived, he was a vital reference from my high school years.

With this void of valuable, necessary people that leave us, there is no other option but to meet the commitments of my generation, our generation, ‘take the baton’.

The news also reached Spanish journalist Francisco Gomez Nadal abroad, who was deported at the end of February of this year and who, in his blog elmalcontento [es], regrets he could not be in Panama:

Si me hubiera ido por propia voluntad de Panamá, hoy estaría en Panamá. Habría agarrado un vuelo el lunes, al saber de la estúpida muerte de un amigo, no para tratar de llegar a lo ya imposible, sino para estar cerca de los que quedamos vivos.

If I had left Panama by choice, I would be in Panama today. I would have caught a flight on Monday, to hear the stupid death of a friend, not to try to reach the now impossible, but to be close to those of us he left alive.

Gómez Nadal also wrote about his legacy in an article for Otramerica [es], pointing out that:

Su actividad académica ha sido de una intensidad fecunda y su implicación en los organismos de la vida civil panameña permanente.

His academic activity has been fruitfully intense and his involvement in the organizations of Panamanian civilian life permanent.

In the blog Panamanian Literature Today [es], Jose Luis Rodríguez Pitty shares the grief of relatives and friends, posts a biography and links to two short stories by Raúl Leis.

In Medio Cerrado [es], Joao Q writes “Remembering Professor Raúl Leis”. The author shares his impressions on the day he had the opportunity to talk to Raúl Leis. He talks about his ability to explain a complicated topic in simple and humorous terms, making it as simple as “2 and 2 equals 4″ [es]. Joao tells of a piece of advice “the professor” gave him once and,

que me he tomado muy en serio desde entonces: “Hay que dedicar tiempo a la familia y a la recreación. Muchos compañeros (as)  han perdido la cordura y la salud emocional por dejar eso en segundo plano”.

that I have taken very seriously since then: “You have to devote time to family and recreation. Many colleagues have lost their sanity and emotional health when they've pushed that into the background.”

Through articles, biographies, posts and comments that have been written about this intellectual, his achievements are revealed in the literary field, with prizes such as the Ricardo Miró in Panamá [es] and the Plural in Mexico, among others; his plays that were performed and published;  his professional achievements; his role in Panamanian Civil Society and above all, his impact on those who personally knew him and who have the motivation to turn learning into positive action.

As a tribute to his life, the Leis Arce family recently published a website [es] with the work of Raúl Leis. In it, his son Raúl Leis Arce explains:

Esta página es una de las últimas voluntades de mi padre Raul Leis Romero. Un homenaje a su vida, su labor y su ejemplo. Esta página será construida con la mayoría de sus obras y con los aportes de todas aquellas personas que lo admiraron, respetaron y quisieron en todo el mundo. Muchas Gracias a todos.

This site is one of the last wishes of my father Raul Leis Romero. A tribute to his life, his work and example. This page will be built with most of his work and with contributions of all those who admired, respected and loved him worldwide. Thank you very much everybody.

In Medio Cerrado [es], the author concludes by sharing:

Finalmente, hay que decirlo, aunque ahora pueda sonar un poco trillado: Raúl Leis no ha muerto, allí tenemos a la mano sus artículos de opinión, sus libros, sus obras teatrales, que harán inmortales sus ideas cada vez que las leamos, no está de más decir que en estos tiempos de injusticia aquellas letras no pueden quedar a merced de las polillas y el polvo.

Finally, I must say, though now it sounds a little trite: Raúl Leis has not died, within reach we have his opinion articles, his books, his plays, which will make his ideas immortal every time we read them, it is worth saying that in these times of injustice, those word can not be left at the mercy of moths and dust

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