All of us on the Green Social Thought editorial board were terribly saddened to learn of the sudden passing of our friend, comrade and former editorial board member Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero during the afternoon of Tuesday, September 6th. Carmelo apparently had a sudden, fatal heart attack while at work in his home city of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
I first got to know Carmelo when he enrolled in the Institute for Social Ecology's Masters program, then hosted at Goddard College in Vermont. I had the honor of serving as Carmelo’s academic advisor, and he soon became one of the most articulate and accomplished of our many social ecology graduates. The focus of his studies was the growth of corporate and neoliberal influences in the environmental movement, particularly around the lead-up to the UN “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. This was the event that produced the landmark UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which in turn has shaped all international climate deliberations since the 1990s. Drawing on a wealth of international sources in both English and Spanish, Carmelo probed the insidious role of corporate officials and think tanks in shaping the Rio agreements and undermining their transformative potential.
Since completing his M.A. in 1995, Carmelo has distinguished himself as a premier bilingual environmental journalist, with a significant focus on agroecology and the science and politics of GMOs. He published two books in Spanish on these topics and played a key role in making current information and analysis on biotechnology, neoliberalism, green politics, corporate crime, and natural resource issues available to Latin American audiences. His journalistic credits include articles for Telesur, Corpwatch, Counterpunch, InterPress Service, Earth Island Journal, The Ecologist, Food First, and numerous other outlets, including TV and radio work both in Puerto Rico and on the US mainland. He also lived and worked in Ecuador and Colombia and studied biotechnology and biosafety in Norway.
Carmelo will always be remembered for his incisive political analysis, brilliant and relentless sense of humor, and his unparalleled passion to probe the details of all things political, as well as the vast absurdities of popular culture.
Our mutual friend Manuel O’Neill, a long-time financial aid counselor at Goddard College, adds:
From the moment Carmelo arrived in Vermont, and whenever he returned to Vermont, he spoke of the struggle to decolonize Puerto Rico and free its political prisoners. He chronicled the efforts and achievements of those struggling in Puerto Rico to achieve political self-determination, food sovereignty and safety, and the campaign to de-militarize, reclaim and develop a sustainable Vieques. His radio-broadcast interviews, his printed newspaper and magazine articles, and internet blogs, as well as his public talks—strengthened solidarity with the cause of Puerto Rico in Vermont and New England.
… His self-deprecating humor and unpretentious manner are reminders that honesty, integrity, and speaking truth to power have their price, that good works are sometimes their only reward, that commitment to a cause gives one’s life meaning and purpose, and that “we” is more important than “I.” … Carmelo has passed away, and now I must find solace in knowing that we are the better for having known him. He planted seeds of inspiration, hope, and resistance onto fertile soil. And, as sure as the sun will continue to rise in the east every morning, the seeds Carmelo planted will bear fruit and continue to nurture the struggles and movements of which Carmelo was an integral part for generations to come.