Another closed door –

Another closed door –

I have seen the photograph circulating on the networks of Father Adolfo López de la Fuente leaning out of the door of the Jesuit communal house, where he lived in Managua. Now, at 98 years old, they have expelled him from there. He appears as I remember him, next to that same door, in his role as a volunteer porter of the Villa El Carmen house, located within the premises of the Central American University. After the confiscation of the university, accused of terrorism, they were all expelled under police force. Including Father Adolfo.

He came to open the door, the small cross hanging from the neck of the guayabera worn from so much washing, his gray beard, his eyes alert behind thick glasses; she smiled when she saw me, and she was almost always silent. I don’t know if his job as porter had imposed it on himself, or it was part of his obligations, assigned by the community. Fernando Cardenal told me that in the Jesuit house in Medellín, one of his duties was to go out and buy the bread for breakfast every morning.

Tulita, my wife, who worked closely with Father César Jerez when he was rector of the university, and who himself lived in the Villa El Carmen house, remembers that each of the priests received his allowance, a modest sum of money for his expenses. personal. Cigarettes for anyone who smoked, a movie ticket for anyone who wanted to go to the movies.

I have in my memory that house in Villa El Carmen, somewhat hidden from the traffic of the Jesuit campus among trees, furnished with rocking chairs, what in Nicaragua we call “granny chairs”, a small television, a dining room like a neighborhood boarding house. A house of single and industrious men, no one would say that it was full of academic eminences, with two and three doctorates, scientific researchers, theologians, sociologists, historians. Humanists.

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Father Adolfo, for example, the one who opened the door. Born in Neguri, Bilbao, he studied mathematics and engineering, later specializing in malacology, author of the book Nicaraguan mollusks (Bilvalvos). A defender of biodiversity, he opposed the failed construction of the interoceanic canal, because it would devastate the wealth of the Great Lake, turning it into a quagmire. His brother Julio, a Jesuit and engineer too, who died ten years ago, and an expert in square waves, produced a set of maps detailing solar radiation in Nicaragua, 25 years devoted to studying the subject.

Among everything confiscated from the university, classroom buildings, auditoriums, laboratories, libraries, sports fields, is the “Julio y Adolfo López de la Fuente SJ Engineering Laboratory”, dedicated to the investigation of “structures, materials and soils, hydraulics and fluids, methods and times, and simulations of production processes”. There is no other in the country; nor is there any other Institute of Molecular Biology.

I never studied with the Jesuits. I graduated from a secular secondary school, and went to study law at the National University in León, secular par excellence, under the rectorate of a liberal humanist, Mariano Fiallos Gil. The Somozas supported the creation of the Central American University in Managua, to neutralize that of León, whose motto, created by the rector Fiallos, was “To freedom for the University.” But very soon, the one in Managua became a focus of equally hot student agitation against the Somoza dictatorship, then a center for radiating liberation theology, and in April 2018 a refuge for young people persecuted to death, under the courageous rectory of Father José Idiáquez, Nicaraguan, who now lives in exile in Mexico.

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When they closed the doors of my own alma mater, prohibited from presenting my books on its premises, the Universidad Centroamérica opened its doors for me, and I was welcomed as if I had graduated there. The best university in the country, the most open, the freest, when all the public universities had fallen under the monotonous yoke of the archaic official ideology.

I began to know the Jesuits through Fernando Cardenal, brother of Ernesto Cardenal, both priests, and with whom I conspired for the overthrow of Somoza; Fernando entered the Society of Jesus with an early vocation, and Ernesto, who wanted to become a Trappist monk first, ended up being ordained a secular priest. Rome punished them by suspending their vows ad divinis, and Fernando had to redo the path from scratch, as a novice, to be readmitted to the order, the first case in the history of the Society of Jesus. Pope Francis restored Ernesto’s status as a priest, shortly before his death.

Fernando, like many Jesuits, proclaimed liberation theology, booming in Latin America in the second half of the last century, converted in the 1970s into one of the ideological mainstays of the Sandinista revolution, and a source of conflict within the church, when upon reaching the papacy John Paul II declared himself against its postulates.

Father Cesar Jerez was also close to me. A Guatemalan, born in the indigenous town of San Martín Jilotepeque, he studied theology in Frankfurt and received a doctorate in political science from the University of Chicago. A mature and focused idealist, but inflexible in his ethical conviction, he did not conceive of himself but in the service of social transformation. A great conversationalist, with a keen sense of humor. “There are people from the oligarchy in Guatemala who are surprised that an Indian from San Martin like me speaks German and speaks English,” he laughed joyfully.

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Unforgettable and exemplary Xavier Gorostiaga and Amando López, also rectors of the university, Amando brutally murdered in San Salvador by the army in 1989, along with five other priests of the order. And Father Álvaro Argüello, who created from nothing the Institute of History of Nicaragua and Central America, where the most important documentary collection in the country remains, left to its own devices. Nothing less than the memory of him.

Another closed door to humanism. A country of closed doors. Doors close, the noise fades, and only darkness remains.

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