On the occasion of the festivities for the 476 anniversary of the foundation of Guayaquil, we wanted to find a very representative character from the city. We found the most suitable one. Our interviewee was Juan Pueblo, an icon of our “Pearl of the Pacific.”
Where have you been all this time?
I’ve been everywhere. Touring the city, enjoying the regeneration works. At the same time seeing that there are more things to do so changes must continue for some time.
What is your favorite soccer team, Barcelona or Emelec?
If I had to be a fan of some soccer team, it would be Sporting Guayaquil.
What was your saddest day and your happiest one?
There have been many sad days. The saddest one I remember was September 30th, 2010. But, the rest of the days have been happy.
We saw you at the White Parade called by the current Mayor, tell us what happened there?
It was a beautiful day. The entire city was dressed in white and sky-blue and came out peacefully to demand for our safety. Moreover, I was the official image for the parade. People made t-shirts, stickers and posters with a picture of mine. I was opening my shirt and showing in my chest a printed image ot the “Star of October.” What did bother me was that when I wanted to say a few words Jaime Nebot (mayor) did it first and made all the speech by his own. He made me lost my leadership, he took the center stage. But then, everything was relaxed. He’s a great friend of mine. I talked to him and we agreed that I would give a few minutes the next time.
We know you went through very difficult times in your life. How could you overcome that entire episode?
Many years ago I was very poor. I wore only dirty and torn clothes, without shoes. I was really thin, but that was because Guayaquil was living difficult times too. I became the spokesman of all the citizens’ allegations. I struggled for my voice to be heard. Fortunately the good works started, I was offered an excellent job and I could recover. And I have not stopped since then.
You are an example of struggle and devotion for your city. What would be your message for the Guayaquil citizens?
I became from being the representative of poverty Guayaquil to be a worthy citizen proud and committed to Guayaquil. I will fight always only for it. And here is my message to Guayaquil citizens: The city of Guayaquil is a reflection of its inhabitants. If we want it to be clean, in order, and if we desire its further progress, we will succeed with the commitment of its entire people. Feel always proud of living in such a wonderful city. Become worthy representatives of the “Pearl of the Pacific”. I am sure you can truly be “Madera de guerrero” (paraphrase: a strong and brave man) rather “guerrero de madera (paraphrase: someone that is not good at all).
More than one in Guayaquil have ever dream with such an interview. How many things were it possible to hear from Juan Pueblo? Architect Melvin Hoyos, director of the Guayaquil Municipal Library, was the one who told us a brief overview of how this unique character came to life.
Juan Pueblo first appeared in the column called Kaleidoscope of the local newspaper The Telegraph, in 1918. Cartoonist Jaime Salinas, brought this character to life because he wanted Juan Pueblo to be the citizen who claims justice for Guayaquil. Gradually, the caricature of Juan Pueblo was covering spaces of columns editorials of several newspapers such as El Universo and La Prensa.
After several years, also an artist Luis Peñaherrera, 23, took the post about this cartoon and continued to use the same concept, but designed in a more miserable and decadent.
“Robin,” pseudonym Peñaherrera, baptized this character as Juan Pueblo. In the sixties, the artist inscribed the character and gave the Portsmouth rights to the City Council. By this time Juan Pueblo, was clean and renovated as an illustrious citizen, dressed in white guayabera, dark pants, and shoes sole.
Following the renovation campaign of Guayaquil called “Now or never: Guayaquil lives for you,” Juan Pueblo became the formal symbol of the civic and cultural recovery of the city.
With over ninety years, this illustrious character is a worthy symbol to represent the city of his birth, the place that will never let him die.
By: María Belén Guerrero