Marcelino Cortés
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Of the people who I have known in my life, there have been three of them who have excelled; because of their history, their charisma and their intelligence. They are in order Marcelino Cortés Morales, John V Linsy and the Dr Pedro Albizu Campos.  Although they were in different fields each one has been an apostle in their vocation and principles.


Marcelino Cortes Morales was born in the 1891 in the District of Angeles in Utuado, Puerto Rico. He was educated until the fourth grade and enlisted in Uncle Sam’s Army in 1918.  He returned ill from Panama in that same year.  In his youth he was a strong man, yet soft spoken but intelligent. Although ill, he had amazing abilities with his hands and was a capable master craftsman.  He was a painter, sculptor and carver. He was a calligrapher and an expert designer without formal training or schooling.  From 1919 to 1932 and later he resolved many problems for the agriculture people by making handles for machetes and axes as well as making a machine of copper and nails to grind coffee.

In the 1932 he carved an artwork of Satan at the insistence of professors of the University of Puerto Rico.  He used an engraved image as guide that he obtained from a priest from a church of Lares, Puerto Rico.  He also made musical instruments including cuatros, guitars, guiros and maracas.  He carved roosters, birds and flowers.  By this time, by profession, he was officially a Santero and his specialty were carvings of the Three Kings on Horseback…In 1936 with the advent of P.R.E.R.A. (Puerto Rican Emergency Relief Administration) and P.R.A.A. he designed women’s clothing including blouses, housecoats, and slips which were produced in Puerto Rico for export.  In 1940, he graduated to sculpting and created a four foot sculpture of a “Jibaro” in cedar wood, complete with machete in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other.  This work was for none other than Luis Munoz Marin.² 


Cortes repaired sewing machines. He manufactured wooden coffins which he donated to needy people because by that time the Great Depression had hit.  After all of this, he dedicated himself to making furniture, all carved by hand with knives.  The Diaz, Lecaroz and Reboyra families still have some of his works.  In addition, his son, Salvador, still possesses the lathe that Cortes built himself to facilitate his work. 


All that Cortes achieved was possible only because of his own efforts, strong will and determination.  His physical barriers and eternal paralysis did not stop him and I have not managed to know any other man as strong willed.  Marcelino Cortes Morales died in 1954 being The First Craftsman of Angeles and we should say The First Artisan of Puerto Rico.

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