These days we have received the sad news of the passing of Alberto Abello Vives, economist and thinker of the relations between culture and development, born in Santa Marta (Colombia) and in love with the Caribbean and Catalonia from where he pointed out with conviction, his second surname came from.
With Alberto we shared many moments of heated debates and meetings at the Euro-American Campus of Cultural Cooperation and in Barcelona or in Girona, headquarters of the Research Laboratory created in partnership with the Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar. With him, we discovered the Greater Caribbean and its cultural diversity, so similar in many ways to that of our Mediterranean. We were united by the sea but, especially, by the passion of understanding culture as an asset and of claiming its strategic value in the definition of policies centered on people and their capacities.
The links between Catalonia and Colombia are historical and infinite. They manifest themselves in symbolic elements such as the exact replica of the famous Font de Canaletas in front of the Naval Museum of the Caribbean in Cartagena or the natural site and sanctuary of Monserrate in Bogotá founded by Don Juan de Borja y Armendia, President of the Royal Audience of Santafé de Bogotá of the New Kingdom, who had authorized the construction of the chapel dedicated to the Moreneta of Monserrat at the beginning of the 19th century.
But these links are especially tangible in the strange feeling of a very special emotional, intellectual and cultural connection that is visible, among others, through a shared literary creation. Barcelona has been the main publishing house for many Colombian writers such as Garcia Márquez, who lived here for 8 years and asked Avel.lí Artís-Gener, Tisner, to translate Cien Años de Soledad in Catalan. Alberto Abello was not only one of the co-founders of the Gabriel García Márquez Foundation for New Ibero-American Journalism; he was a great reader and the right person if you wanted to know and delve into the prolific new Colombian literature.
Alberto was a great defender of the traditional festivities of Independence in Cartagena, original expression of both diversity and popular creativity that the celebration of the national beauty contest has displaced and shunned. He was an activist of the peace and reconciliation process, a leader in the fight to overcome poverty and inequality. Arriving arrived in Cartagena de Indias you could not find a better host who always took care of making visible the two faces of the extreme reality of the city.
We have learned a lot from you and your people, Alberto. Your immense energy expressed through literature, history, music, dance, colors, joy and the desire to live a dream is the best example of the transforming power of culture. We will not forget neither you nor your Caribbean.
Gemma Carbó, chair of the Board of the Interarts Foundation