Happy Sunday! Reflecting back on the first stage of my teaching career at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Puerto Rico (PUCPR), especially the years 1998 to 2004, I wrote about some of my PUCPR colleagues and friends in my previous post. Today and tomorrow, I want to pay homage to some of the scholarly friends I made outside of my home institution, including Julio Fontanet Maldonado, Gustavo Gelpi, Daniel Nina, Efren Rivera Ramos, and Carlitos del Valle.
Let me begin with Julio Fontanet Maldonado, the Dean of the law school of the Inter-American University (IAU) in San Juan, P.R. What I have always admired the most about Julio is his commitment to truth and research. In fact, my first external grant was due to Julio’s good efforts when he was President of the Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico from 2004 to 2006, and one of the first scholarly conferences I ever attended was the first meeting of “The South-North Exchange” (see here) in December of 2003 (if I recall correctly) at the IAU law school, a conference that led to the publication of my first scholarly paper (“Deconstructing Darwin”) and that would not have been possible without Julio’s support.
In addition to Julio, two more kindred souls, Gustavo Gelpi and Efren Rivera Ramos, also deserve a shout out. I met Efren for the first time in 1998 or 1999, at a seminar at the University of Puerto Rico on H.L.A. Hart’s philosophy of law, and I met Gustavo around the same time when he gave the first of many guest lectures at the PUCPR law school, my home institution at the time. Among many other accomplishments, my friends Efren and Gustavo deserve special mention for having written some of the most original and thought-provoking works about “the insular cases”–perhaps the most important group of cases ever decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Furthermore, all of these men of legal letters–Julio, Gustavo, and Efren–share two core qualities I admire the most: intellectual integrity and a love of their native island. If Puerto Rico ever outgrows her current colonial status, it will in some small measure be because Julio, Gustavo, and Efren led the way.
That still leaves Daniel Nina and the late Carlitos del Valle, both of whom were affiliated with the now defunct Maria Eugenio de Hostos law school in Mayaguez, P.R. Daniel, Carlitos, and the Hostos law school occupy a special place in my heart and thus deserve a separate “reflection” of their own …