The architect Javier Blanco. (GFR Average)
The Puerto Rican architect Francisco Javier Blanco Cestero, founder of the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust , passed away yesterday, Saturday, at 5:00 in the afternoon at the age of 86, the organization confirmed to El Nuevo Día .
“The greatest value that Javier leaves behind is his integrity as a son, as a husband, as a father, as a scholar, an impeccable public servant, his verticality and his concern for the well-being of our country and natural resources , “ said his wife Nelly Graziani in statements. to this medium.
In addition to Graziani, Blanco is survived by his three children, Miguel Agustín and Andrés Francisco, both 54, and Mónica Elena, 50. In addition, he is survived by his grandchildren Ana María, 25, Francisco Javier, 20, and Miranda, who is 8 years old.
The architect had suffered a stroke in 2019 that deteriorated his health, despite having received therapies. “We believed that it could be recovered,” confessed the widow. But the situation led him to be bedridden until his death. At the time of his death, Blanco was being held at the San Pablo hospital in Bayamón. “He died very calm, surrounded by his family,” Graziani said.
Blanco directed the Trust for 33 years, until 2002. The entity, created in 1968 and established in 1970, is a non-profit institution dedicated to the conservation and protection of natural areas of high ecological and historical value on the Island. for the enjoyment of present and future generations, carrying out education programs and the development of conservation projects.
Fernando Lloveras, director of the Trust since 2003, described Blanco as “a great Puerto Rican with a great vision . “
“He is a person who has left us a legacy for perpetuity for all Puerto Ricans and for that we have to be very grateful and honor having enjoyed his work and his dedication to the cause of nature conservation in Puerto Rico. ” , He told this medium. “His critical mind, his critical eye, his passion for perfection, for discipline, for doing things well, are characteristics that always stood out,” he added.
They want their legacy to live on in children and youth
Blanco's successor as executive director also highlighted his human qualities, largely reflected in his interest in instilling in children and young people a love for the Puerto Rican land. Thus began in his time as director the summer camps of the organization, one of the most important programs of the entity, described Lloveras.
“It impacted many young people who are now in leadership roles, who have continued to forge and form thanks to that program and that relationship with both children and young people. Apart from creating a solid organization, impeccable historical restorations, his great contribution was that achievement of creating environmental leaders in Puerto Rico, “he said.
In the same direction, Graziani expressed his wish that the Blanco legacy and his commitment to the protection of nature on the island serve as an example and inspiration for children and young people in Puerto Rico.
“You have to start from a young age, from a young age, to respect nature, to see and try to emulate those people who are doing something. There are a lot of things in Puerto Rico that are being lost, the landscapes, the beaches are being lost, and we have to conserve them because it is the only thing we have, it is where we stand, where we make our lives, ”shared the wife.
“We are losing our spirit as a people, as a community. We should be proud, and that is one of the things that Javier always did, he felt proud to be Puerto Rican, “he stressed.
Blanco was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico on January 15, 1934. His parents Agustín Blanco and Ana María Cestero were well known people in Puerto Rican society at the time. The renowned architect grew up in Miramar and in the summers in the family's country house in Barranquitas, providing young Francisco Javier with direct contact with the natural landscape of Puerto Rico at that time.
Blanco's track record is broad, as are his accomplishments. In 1957 he completed a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University; also a Bachelor's and Master's in Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1965 and 1970, respectively. From 1965 to 1968, the architect held various positions in the Puerto Rico Land Administration, including that of director of the Design and Planning Division. He was also special assistant to the president of the Puerto Rico Planning Board from 1967 to 1969; and was a member of the Board from 1969 to 1970.
Blanco was also a member of the Historic Preservation Commission, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture from 1965 to 1982, Chairman of the Governor's Committee on Aesthetics and Natural Resources from 1966 to 1968, Member of the Subcommittee on Natural Resources, Advisory Council of the Governor on Policies and Programs from 1969 to 1970, member of the Advisory Board of the National Historic Preservation Trust in Washington, DC from 1972 to 1978, member of the Monuments and Historic Zones Committee of the Puerto Rico Planning Board and the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture from 1990 to 1993, among other positions on boards and committees throughout his career.
The engineer Alexis Massol González, one of the founders of the Casa Pueblo community project in Adjuntas, recalled in conversation with this medium his experiences with Blanco, with whom he also had the opportunity to share as a member of the Board of Directors of the Trust, at the invitation of the own architect.
“Being with the founder of that institution was also learning,” said Massol, the first Puerto Rican to receive the Goldman Prize, considered the Environmental Novel. Massol emphasized that Puerto Ricans and particularly the new generations must emulate Blanco's ability to look to the future, living and acting in the present.
“Javier was an advanced man, he looked for how to protect the lands, the forests and the waters, and he looked for a route through a Trust that was extraordinarily successful. For him I have admiration and respect for having had an initiative for Puerto Rico that lasts and that is of great value for this and future generations. The country must remember him as someone who contributed to Puerto Rico in a dimension that is the least attended and has to do with nature, “he stressed.
For La Naturaleza, a non-profit organization that manages the natural areas of the Trust, he also highlighted that vision of the future that characterized Blanco.
“On more than one occasion he was heard saying that 'those of us who work in it (the organization, the FCPR) are not dealing with today but with the future.' He knew that, by conserving the natural and historical heritage of Puerto Rico, the Conservation Trust made a gift to present and future generations who would have the opportunity to enjoy the landscape and the resources that their ancestors once enjoyed , “said the entity. in written statements.
After Blanco's retirement as director of the Trust, after 33 years of service, the institution continues to strengthen and expand its conservation, historic preservation, and environmental education programs and projects. New natural areas have been established and new opportunities have opened to take action in favor of nature.
The trajectory, prestige and recognition of the organization in these almost 50 years of foundation have taken it to another local and international level.
“ Javier Blanco was a person who had a privileged origin, he was born in a home that had no lack and yet he used his life to do something that few people have done, which is to protect nature, designating and protecting areas so that they are not destroyed. or absorbed by the greed of economic development or construction for housing. He took on that responsibility until the last moment, “said Rosa Hilma Ramos, community leader and environmentalist. “Hopefully there are more like him,” said the also recognized with the Goldman Prize.