by Carmelo Ruiz Marrero
InformacionAlDesnudo – Puerto Rico
“A great humorist has died”, I told everyone at the 2011 Thanksgiving party in San Ramón. They all thought at first that I was talking about Horacio Olivo, another great Puerto Rican humorist who was at that time hospitalized and in critical condition. But to this day Olivo is alive and kicking, hanging on to dear life and recovering. The humorista who passed away that day was precisely a collaborator of Olivo, and both together were among the most important forefathers of Puerto Rican political satire as we know it today.
I am referring to my good friend, learned and erudite man, and merciless scourge and bane of right-wing pitiyanquis, who wrote under the pseudonym “Fernando Clemente”. For some twenty years he was the author of “Entrando por la Salida” (In Through the Out Door), the humor column of the pro-independence weekly newspaper Claridad. After his sad- and for me unexpected- departure I am now free to disclose his true identity. “Clemente” was none other than attorney Roberto Fernández-Coll, a prosecutor at the Puerto Rico Justice Department.
The awesome legacy of Eddie López, outstanding humorist and incredibly prolific writer and journalist for the English-language daily San Juan Star, looms over all political satire in Puerto Rico even today, forty years after his death. Back in the 1960’s no one dared make fun of politicians in Puerto Rico- even though our national literature has been graced by masters of parody and irreverence, like 19th century playwright Alejandro Tapia and early 20th century essayist Nemesio Canales. In the mid-twentieth century the political fauna of Puerto Rico was too hazardous and easily provoked into anger. If local politicos are fair game nowadays, we can thank Eddie.