Ramón Zubieta for me, is that figure, that man who marked the history of his time with his being and doing. 


Being, because he was a man marked by presence, attentive, affectionate, a man with a big heart who bore everything with love and patience, dedicated. 


Being, because from his writings we know that with the sisters he was a father present and when he could not be he often wrote to ensure his presence. With the ” natives ” he became one of them sharing the same destiny and looking for ways to get them out of that situation and the inhuman conditions.


 Doing, he undertook great works, he risked his own life to ensure better conditions for those who were entrusted to him, the ” impoverished/savage “. He built schools, bridges, installed poles and cables, communication lines and opened roads, instructed people and promoted human rights and values (first forming men and women and then forming Christians), always available for the mission.


 As a person, one of the aspects of the life of Father Founder, Fray Ramon Zubieta that most marked me, is his character/personality, a man of strong and firm spirit, sure of his convictions, who knew what he wanted, so his projects flowed and bore fruit that continue over time. A man who did not let himself be defeated, discouraged or frustrated by the difficulties and misunderstandings he encountered in his missionary journey, coming from different people and places, including accusations of all kinds. He was a tireless missionary who found God in everything and entrusted his mission and his work to Him.


He was a humanly strong man, sensitive to the suffering of his neighbour, but he did not stop to complain. He looked for alternatives to find a solution, to transform reality and to guarantee a different, better and more dignified life to the indigenous people or “savages” as they were called at that time, bringing them civilization. “Since his arrival in Chirumbia the missionaries have become courageous defenders of the indigenous people and therefore also reap the enmity of the “civilized”. Father Zubieta, from the responsibility of his position as Apostolic Prefect, repeatedly goes to the authorities, both local and provincial, as well as to the Supreme Government of the Nation, to denounce the incident.


For Ramón Zubieta, “the missions with their respective schools can be the best base and principle for the people in these regions. There, scattered indigenous people gathered, who would never have gathered without the support of the missionary and the school founded and supported by him. The savages know very well that the missionary will not be their patron or owner, but their loving father, who will protect them against all the abuses they are subjected to in many places, where there is no other authority or law than that of brute force.


As Founder and Superior of the missions of Santo Domingo del Urubamba and Madre de Dios, he appeals to the Supreme Government to ask for the necessary support for the conservation and progress of the missions in these regions”. He does not limit himself to presenting his complaints, but also proposes a series of detailed solutions, which included the creation of a police force in the Department of Cuzco to guard the valleys and protect the indigenous people, and to punish those who would carry out raids (looting and destruction), depriving them of their prisoners. As for those who were freed, their education would be provided, handing over the children to the missionaries, and the girls and women to the nuns.” Ramon Zubieta, Defender of the Natives (see page 194 of the book Fry R Zubieta)


The Founder, for me, was a ” Servant and server” (a helpful brother) among the brothers. As proof of this, during his visit to San Domingo de Chirumbia, he stayed for a while, shouldering all the burden of the care of the mission, knowing practically how much trouble the missionary must take every day and night. The school, the catechesis of adults, the work in the fields, the care of the domestic animals, the continuous requests of the indigenous people …. In every time and place he has always tried to consult his religious in the tasks that life in the mission requires of missionaries (a strong sense of humanism, cooperation, being and doing with people). For me, Father Zubieta was also a great promoter and defender of human rights. Therefore, and according to the studies and writings of our sisters (Cecilia Valbuena…).


Father Zubieta had gone to that mission in Chirumbia with the firm purpose of cutting down the abuses committed against the natives, and his stay coincided with one of these bloody ” raids “. Monsignor Zubieta left Chirumbia for Cuzco on January 2, 1912, “Loaded with documents and data to make a complaint to the Supreme Government to stop or prohibit the attacks that are committed almost daily in that region” (see page 197 of the book). The Prefect presented his appeals to the authorities, appealed with threats to the government if no remedy was found and was unable to find a concrete solution. Concerned about the well-being and development of the communities, the Apostolic Prefect of Santo Domingo de Urubamba and Madre de Dios perceived his work of evangelization as something more complex than administering the sacraments to the natives or providing them with some minimal transformative notions. Through formation and conviction, he took advantage of this call from the authorities to collaborate with them in getting to know the territory and “improve communications” within it. In his intense report, he highlights one paragraph:


“Three things, I think, are essential for now:


  • Disposition of the road from Paucartambo to Coñispata until the confluence of Tono.
  • Put in this route four inns with two staves, which will be in charge of the conservation of the path.
  • Place a phone from Asuncion farm to the village of Paucartambo.”


The Supreme Government welcomes the initiative and the President of the Republic, in his message to the Chambers, mentions the work done by the Apostolic Prefecture. However, this construction has also aroused enmities and contradictions, because rapid communication within the country was not convenient for everyone. The explorers of the natives and the squanderers of the jungle’s riches feared that they would be subjected to greater surveillance from now on.


They expressed their enmity by holding Father Zubieta responsible for the death of some workers who had fallen victim of malaria. Several other accusations, slanders (such as economic waste, embezzlement of money) based on envy followed. He was even accused of taking on the improper work of a missionary to whom Fr. Prefect reacted by saying: “The desire to open these doors to seek the conquest of the innumerable natives who populate these unknown forests is what led me to seek the opening of roads and to establish rapid communication between this Department and the interior regions”. A prudent, organized and farsighted man, he had everything recorded and documented, and in the accusations and slanders he suffered, he used these documents for his defense and to prove with all the evidence the falsity of the accusations (see p. 19 of the brochure on Fr).


The authorities acknowledge his tireless work on the communication line and for the good results and the economy of the network of works, they commission him to extend the lines to communicate with Cuzco. His initiative meant that little by little they went on to put up posts, cables and towers with wires until they reached the Bolivian border itself.


A God-fearing man, he does not bow, but goes with a heart troubled by slander and a desire to face the accusation and defend himself, thus allowing the judge to claim his complete innocence. This capacity for resistance, “stubbornness” in the good sense of the word and conviction in what he wanted to do in defence of the poorest to guarantee their rights and restore their dignity as human beings, is what marked me most in the life of the Father Founder and is what inspired and motivated me in my work for Human Rights in the Mosaiko Institute of Citizenship with the Dominicans and with the pastoral communities. All for a better world, a more just world without discrimination.


Sister Francisca Imaculada


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