Universidad de los Andes commemorates 75 years with a work about its founder Mario Laserna

Luc Williams

The indomitable reason: Life and work of Mario Laserna, the founder of the Andes‘ is a carefully prepared writing by the biographer and historian Luis Fernando Molina. This unravels little-known aspects of the Laserna’s life, especially one of the most unusual, such as his attempt to become President of the Republic, despite the fact that his personality, training and lifestyle went against that purpose..

Furthermore, the work reveals historical dimensions that introduce the figure of this individual, characterized by his intelligence and an insatiable thirst for knowledge that are manifested in his training in mathematics at Princeton, his philosophy studies at the University of Berlin and his roles, which include being a journalist, art historian and environmental activist, among others. The depth achieved in the understanding of Mario Laserna was possible thanks to a meticulous exploration of various sources, from archives and publications to letters that he exchanged with friends, family and colleagues, emerged as invaluable resources, shedding light on aspects of his life that, of Otherwise, they would have remained in the shadows.

These contributed to painting a more complete portrait of this enigmatic character. “I think Mario had a very intense secret life. I started from something that García Márquez always said: ‘one has a public life, a private life and a secret one’. As biographers, we delve into the latter to understand the character, because there we find many of the keys that helped us understand his motivations and behaviors,” says Luis Fernando Molina.

In the least explored corner of Laserna life is ‘El Mercurio’, a treasure forgotten by many. This newspaper, directed by Mario Laserna Pinzón and Pedro Gómez Valderrama between 1955 and 1956, emerges as a vital testimony of the final era of the dictatorship of President Rojas. Defying censorship and media closures, it stands as a beacon in the search for freedom in Colombia. In the words of the biographer, “What distinguished ‘El Mercurio’ was its independence. Despite Laserna’s conservative political leanings, he managed to unite liberals and conservatives under one roof, reflecting the very essence of Mario: a non-sectarian man, dedicated to the common good and passionate about finding methods to achieve his goals.”

“This biography lives up to what he has achieved the University of the Andes in its 75 years of existence. Its founder, as this biography reveals, was a brain of great worth, with multiple intellectual interests and a conception of the State and society that surpassed that of his contemporaries. He was a university student his entire life. He was always asking questions, he was always exploring new visions, always suggesting new ideas, pointing out new paths and demanding innovative approaches to issues that were already considered well understood,” said Fernando Cepeda Ulloa, Colombian politician and academic in the prologue of the book, adding that Those who thought they knew Mario Laserna will discover that this is not the case when reading his biography.

With information provided by the university faculty


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