Biography of José Eustasio Rivera Salas (1888-1928)

Writer and Colombian lawyer, born in Rivera (Huila) on February 19, 1888, and died in New York, on December 1, 1928. He/She made his early studies in the Colegio de Santa Librada of Neiva and of San Luis Gonzaga de Elías. He/She stood out for his skill in mathematics and in the letters. Thanks to a scholarship that won, he/she entered the Escuela Normal de Bogotá. In 1909 he/she moved to Ibagué and began working as a school inspector.

In 1912 he/she entered the Faculty of law and political sciences of the National University and worked as an employee of the Ministry of Government. After the death of his father in 1922, Rivera moved to Sogamoso and began to write his work Summit the maelstrom. By this time he/she was appointed attorney Secretary of the Colombian-Venezuelan border Commission; This official mission took him to the jungles of the Orinoco and the Amazon, where he/she had the opportunity to pick up new characters and impressions for his novel which gave him a place of honor in the Spanish-American literature: the maelstrom. In addition he/she used these experiences to report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the neglect and the inhuman exploitation of the rubber workers in the jungles of Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil.

In 1925, Rivera was appointed member of the investigating Commission of Foreign Affairs and colonization. He/She then published a series of articles in the new time of Santa Fe de Bogotá under the title: national postulates false, items in which Rivera denounced all kinds of irregularities, especially the hiring of the pipeline from Cartagena to Barrancabermeja. These complaints involved several national political figures and caused a big scandal, not only in Congress, but also in the whole country.

In 1928, Rivera traveled to Cuba as the representative of Colombia at the International Congress of immigration and emigration in Havana. Later traveled to New York where, after founding and directing the Editorial Andes, died when he/she was about to direct the filming of his novel. His body embalmed, but returned to his country, toured for a month and nine days some of the most beloved places for Rivera, as the Magdalena river, the central railway and others, receiving in each port and in every village the tributes which never received in life.

His work appeared in 1924 Summit, the maelstrom, which tells the desolate story of the rubber workers enslaved in the borders of Venezuela, Brazil, and Peru. Other of his works include: Ode to Spain (1910), contains poems about the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the independence of the Bolivarian countries; Land of promise (1921), the work divided into three parts devoted to the jungle, the peaks and Plains; and Juan Gil drama. The poetry of Rivera is typecast into the tardomodernismo and the parnasianismo.


NEALE-SILVA, Eduardo: Human horizon. José Eustasio Rivera's life, collection Tierra Firme, Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1986.