The well-known Puerto Rican attorney, political analyst and historian Juan Manuel García-Passalacqua has died at the age of seventy-three. After his death on Friday, Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño declared three days of mourning. Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez, who has known Passalacqua for many years, talks about his life and legacy. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Just a few days ago, we announced the passing, the death, of Juan Manuel García-Passalacqua, the well-known Puerto Rican analyst, who you knew well.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes, he was a good friend of mine for many, many years, and it was an enormous loss. I don’t think people in the United States realized the towering figure that Juan Manuel García-Passalacqua was in Puerto Rico for — really for more than half a century. He was not only a political analyst and a columnist there, he was really part of the fabric of Puerto Rican society.
I remember back forty years ago, in 1970, when I was with the Young Lords, that we first established a group of Puerto Rican revolutionaries, our branches on the island in Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans raised in the US. And most of Puerto Rican society rejected, was angry at our even trying to establish branches in Puerto Rico. And Passalacqua then was a columnist at the San Juan Star and wrote a very moving column welcoming the Puerto Rican diaspora back home. And since then, I’ve developed, over the years, a long friendship with him.
He was actually one of the founders of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, wrote the bylaws of the organization more than thirty years ago, and was also connected to all figures in Puerto Rican society, from the leftist guerrilla Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, who he knew well and interviewed while he was in hiding, to all the major political figures of the island from the right and left, universally respected by all, always committed to the decolonization of Puerto Rico, to ending US imperial control of the island, but always able to listen to all sides and all perspectives. And it’s is a tremendous loss for the nation of Puerto Rico and for the Puerto Rican people that he’s gone now.
AMY GOODMAN: You knowl, last week, on Friday, when we heard the stories of the attack on the students in the legislature in Puerto Rico, the first person we thought of calling was Juan Manuel, and then it was then, a few days later, that we heard about his death.