Luce López-Baralt, Cultural Ambassador for Puerto Rico


In March, well-known professor of literature Luce López-Baralt (University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras) recently received the Pedro Henríquez Ureña International Prize for Essay [Premio Internacional de Ensayo Pedro Henríquez Ureña] from the Mexican Academy of Language. Calling her a cultural ambassador for Puerto Rico, El Nuevo Día’s Mariela Fullana Acosta highligted her “mission of integrating worlds and linguistic cultures with which she illuminates us in times of despair.” In her acceptance speech, López-Baralt underlined the important role of the University of Puerto Rico in Latin America and beyond. As part of the award, the Mexican Academy will publish an anthology with the best essays by López-Baralt. The book will also include her acceptance speech and other speeches granting her this important recognition. Here are excerpts from the original article in Spanish [my translation]:

Last March, the distinguished writer elatedly received the Pedro Henríquez Ureña International Prize for Essay for her commitment and contributions to criticism and research. She accepted it in the name of her country and the University of Puerto Rico, an institution for which she professes immeasurable love.

During the ceremony, Lopez-Baralt said that Puerto Rico has no international juridical dignitary or embassy, “despite being a Hispanic American nation,” therefore, every writer or artist automatically becomes an ambassador for the island. And she received this important recognition as such [. . .]. “It is a vocation exercised on so many continents that one becomes—and this happens to every writer, to every great artist or every scientist or every great athlete—an ambassador, a representative of Puerto Ricanness. And oftentimes that helps to put our country on the map, and many times, from a distinction, another may arise, or it may bring attention to our literature. So, in that sense, it is an immense privilege that Mexico has given me this distinction,” she said of the award given by the Mexican Academy of Language.

The professor added that what deeply touched her was to pronounce once again the name of her country, which at this moment of tempest, she noted, needs joy, and to know that it is worthy. [. . .] Another reason for great satisfaction was to receive the prize that bears the name of the Dominican writer and thinker Henríquez Ureña, of whom she considers herself to be a “granddaughter,” since she studied with disciples of the Caribbean academic, Raimundo Lida and Enrique Anderson Imbert. [. . .] “It was right here,” recalls López-Baralt, that in 1932 Henríquez Ureña received a Doctor Honoris Causa degree, awarded to him by the University of Puerto Rico. This was the only institution that, during his life, recognized the Caribbean professor who advocated the unity of the Americas.

The historic role of the UPR

“At different stages of its history, this institution has reached a level of excellence of such height, of such category, that it has interacted and communicated with the most important figures not only in Latin America, but also in Europe and the United States. This is something that one should look back upon and think that this cannot be lost; this is central for the history of our country. It is what has sustained Puerto Rico for many generations, and it has to be protected. These are the small memories. The international dialogue that the UPR has had is something that, without a doubt, we should not allow to become impoverished and to die in our hands,” she pointed out. [. . .]

For original article (in Spanish), see

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