Irma Leticia Silva Rodríguez de Oyuela – Honduras

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

Honduras, Tegucigalpa, 1935. A middle-class girl is born. Both her parents are schoolteachers, as were her grandmother and her great-grandmother. As time goes by, she will become a lawyer. But time turns things around and Leticia de Oyuela becomes a historian, which means that, in her own way, she also becomes a teacher. “The greatest richness I have enjoyed has been my childhood”, she says with a smile, sitting in her wheelchair. However, reading her biography, you will think that the greatest richness has been her own life. Because Leticia Silva Rodríguez de Oyuela has arrived at her achievements, honors and titles, through her suffering.

She says: “Nietzsche was right when he said that history is life. History is a civilizing influence” … and: “I was born into a small, bourgeois family. All the women in my family were teachers. I learned to read when I was 4 years old. At 9 I knew almost all the classics. All the reading I did gave me a background that made me feel a little different. The study of Literature is unquestionably a way of seeing history”.

Her book: El NAIF EN HONDURAS, [Novedad Librería Guaymuras] Agosto 2007, Leticia de Oyuela, 2007, ISBN 978-99926-618-5-7, 118 p.: Coedición de la Secretaría de Cultura Artes y Deportes, la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia,y la Cultura (UNESCO),y la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional … (full text).


Irma Leticia Silva Rodríguez de Oyuela – Honduras

She works for the National Autonomous University of Honduras, for the Center-American Chamber of the Book, and for the International Institute for the Conservation of Monuments.

But we must recognize that the seed of all her aspirations was there when she was a child”. The habit of reading has become her true passion. They lived in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. The house was enormous and they had many relatives who often visited. There were also visits from imaginary friends. Through their books they received visits from Malaysian pirates, and even from captain Nemo who was submerged in the deep seas. The adobe walls of the house with its tiles on the roof, were “wonderful watchtowers”. “How many times we climbed on to the roofs and, evading the vigilance of our parents, we travelled through our neigbourhood looking at the houses and their inhabitants”. The inhabitants, who were in the main hard working women, were remembered by Leticia in her book “Las sin Remedio”.

Her grandmother had already had a feminist profession in a country where women had very little consideration. “My mother and my grandmother worked together as teachers in different villages of Honduras for 26 years. My mother married a teacher in 1932″. Leticia was born the following year. At that time the teachers lived in a difficult situation, remembers Leticia. “In 1928 the teachers demanded payment and received from the Honduran president a telegram that said textually: The rivers are full of fish”.

Her grandmother took her to the houses of her friends, frequently among the wealthier people. Each room had a little bench for young visitors.

She got to know all the small benches while her smaller brother, who was not so good at sitting still, got to know all the patios of the same houses. And she listened to all the conversations and looked at all the rooms with their rich interiors. That was the first lesson in the arts that she got. When she was 12 years old she applied to the teacher training school (as seemed to be her destiny). But she was not welcomed because 15 years was the minimum age of acceptance.

A wealthy relative wanted to pay for her to attend a religious school and her grandmother agreed. It was a school patronised by the upper strands of society. The girls had to wear uniforms with long sleeves so that they would not look so dark-skinned. Fairer skinned girls were thought to be a better product for the “marriage market”. Her father was against it. The public schools were better, he thought. The girl entered the annexe for girls of the Central Institute for Boys, where both young the ladies and the boys were treated with Napoleonic discipline. But in the 40’s, a mission of Chilean teachers broke into the rigid scheme, creating special clubs in different areas such as literature, plastic arts and music. She participated in two of them. In the end they offered her a scholarship to Chile but she could not accept.

Later on she studied Law and worked as the librarian and receptionist of the director of the University, the well-known writer Jorge Fidel Durón.

At his side, she got to know many important intellectuals from Latin America. Later on she became the secretary of the Academy of the Spanish Language and found a poet in the “marriage market”. They had a son but later on they divorced and Leticia’s mother took care of the boy. That was the reason why she never had a good relationship with her son, thinks Leticia philosophically, feeling that this situation was difficult to avoid.

As a divorced woman she was stigmatized and men considered her as an easy prey. In the end and after long talks, one classmate, Felix Oyuela, won her heart. He was from a lower social class and presented her with new realities. Felix is today her husband, a man of a remarkable intelligence. In the early days of their marriage he was named consul to Spain. She followed him. There she met important people in the intellectual world and in the Museum del Prado she found friends of the past: Velázquez, El Greco, Don Francisco de Goya… They were images from her childhood, models of her grandmother’s colonial world. But now they were also Art, that kind of religion without religions. She began to study Spanish and American History in the Institute of Hispanic Culture.

They went to Italy where she was moved to see the Concilio Vaticano II. There she could admire the treasures of the Renaissance and did advanced studies in Aesthetics. They returned to Honduras. Consul Oyuela felt dissatisfied with the military governments who he had represented. He was not happy either with the extreme lefts-wing parties. Don Felix tried to create a centrist party while Doña Leticia found another answer: she thought that history was culture, and culture was life and freedom. She directed the Department of Extension of the National University where she created small theatre and dance schools and courses in coexistence and bibliography. She also developed a strong publishing house.

In 1972 she became the director of the Publishing House New Continent and the Art Gallery Leo. There she engaged in unlimited activity, publishing 21 books adding up to the more than one million copies altogether. She presented a number of Honduran authors to the public, also taking their works to fairs in South America and Europe. Her publishing house encompassed a bookstore, an antiquities centre and a centre for sculpture and modelling. She created a workshop to train students to make replicas of antiquities. She took 14 exhibitions of art outside the country.

This hectic activity was suddenly cut short. She had a stroke and shortly afterwards a heart attack.

From then and on her health became a cross to bear. Three days in a comma debilitated her body but not her brain. She had to adopt a new approach to life. She became a writer and began to give lectures. “And thus in the 70’s began her long and fruitful academic production”, indicates the dramatist Eduardo Bähr. Leticia does research into the role of women in Central America making investigations in national, international, parochial, ecclesiastical and legal archives. She published “Chronology of the Honduran Woman”; recently extended and reprinted under the title “Woman, Family and Society”. It is a pioneering text that serves as reference to several generations of students.

Her works are centred in micro history and reveal the role of secondary and anonymous protagonists who are mainly women. In the 90’s, the author made incursions into the narrative and made studies of the Honduran arts. Her production increased as much as the recognition for it did.

She was awarded the Juan Carlos I of Spain Prize and the decoration Pontífice et Eclesiat, granted by the Vatican. In an atmosphere where women are relegated to second place, Leticia de Oyuela has managed to prevail as an intellectual. By explaining the contribution of women and of people forgotten by history she has allowed an awareness to grow without which no peace is possible. (1000peacewomen).

Irma Leticia Silva Rodríguez de Oyuela, nace en Tegucigalpa en 1933 se le conoce además de ser la primera escritora en Honduras que, en esa ruptura de los cánones, fusiona la investigación histórica con el discurso literario, como un pilar importante en el mundo de las galerías en Honduras.

Esta dama de las letras graduada en Ciencias jurídicas y Sociales en Honduras y México y con estudios de Ciencias Estéticas e Historia del Arte en el Instituto Antonio Gramshi de Roma, Italia, combina su pasión por los libros con el fomento de las artes plásticas.

En 1976, siendo la gerente propietaria de la editorial Nuevo Continente abre la galería Arte Leo, con aquella idea fútil de que era importante conjuntar la literatura con la pintura, tal como había acontecido en el renacimiento italiano.

Por varios años este salón cultural es la puerta abierta por reconocidos pintores y escritores ahora para mostrar sus trabajos y técnicas. Doña Leticia dejó de existir paradógicamente a escasos días de celebrarse el Día de la Mujer- el 23 de enero- enlutando las letras nacionales, el mundo de la plástica y la historia.

Se le recordará por su pasión por el arte en todas sus expresiones, su particular visión de la vida, pero sobre todo por haber sido una de las mujeres que más renombre dio a Honduras. Su obra fue reconocida por la Unesco, a través del Centro Mundial de Estudios para el Arte. Indudablemente esta pionera, con derecho propio, jamás se impuso límites y conjugó arte y literatura, en la dimensión, que sólo ella pudo hacerlo. (La Tribuna).

Irma Leticia Silva Rodríguez de Oyela, Historiadora, Honduras, Tegucigalpa, 1935. Nace una ni

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