Esperanta versio æi tie.
Versión española

Memorial to a Spanish Humanist: Don Ricardo Codorniú.


A talk said at the Culture Chamber of CajaMurcia on the 30th of May of 1996 by Dr. José Luis Pérez Óvilo, Delegate of the Universal Esperanto Association in Murcia.


As the Delegate of the Universal Esperanto Association and on behalf of the Ricardo Codorníu Association, from Murcia, I would like to state two comments about this significant Murcian whose importance is out of questions both in national and international grounds.

D. Ricardo Codorníu was a pioneer in Murcia, Spain, and in Europe on what it is called today Ecology. But he was not so because of his remarkable condition of Forest Engineer: to achieve that it was necessary that spark which turns the few into the excellent. and Don Ricardo had that spark, consequence of meditation. He understood perfectly the importance of environment to man, and that looking after it and caring for it was the sine qua non condition for human survival. This was the consideration which led him to his great work: the reforestation of Sierra Espuña, the lung of Murcia which we all enjoy today. That is the reason why he is known as the Apostle of the tree. When en 1888 and 1889 in England and Germany the first association for the protection of birds were created, Ricardo Codorníu was already working on Ecology en Murcia.

There is a second remark, consequence of the previous one: a person who looks after the habitat of man is somebody who believes in man, and this was his humanist condition. But a humanist which reflects on other problems of man, and Don Ricardo did reflect on the most evident, that of lack of linguistic understanding: a high wall which keeps people apart since the bible times of Babel. And no sooner said than done: in the same way as he reached the conclusion that tree is important and so he reforested Sierra Espuña, regarding the linguistic problem he did the same: he set on work and introduced the International Language Esperanto in Spain to leap over the giant wall created by particular languages. This is the reason why he is also known as the father of Spanish esperantism.

Here he created the first Esperanto groups in Spain (in Murcia, Águilas, Lorca, Cartagena, Los Dolores, etc.) ON the 1st of September, 1902, the esperantists gathered to found the Esperanto Society, and in February of 1903 those in Murcia and Valencia met in the former to found the Spanish Society for the Propaganda of Esperanto, being don Ricardo Codorníu nominated their president. The Society had its official see in Murcia, Paseo del Malecón, letter C.

In Spain Don Ricardo founded and published regularly different magazines: Vaga Stelo (Wandering Star) for foreigners; Hispana Stelo (Spanish Star), for Spaniards; Murcia Stelo (Murcia Star), for Murcia esperantists; and Arbara Stelo (Forest Star), for forest engineers. Codorníu's stars were soon famous, both in Spain and outside our country: it was the romantic constellation of the most learned and charming idealists in the Esperanto Movement.

In the Summer of 1905 it was held the First World Congress of Esperanto in France, where Mr. Codorníu was nominated adviser at the Council for Linguistic Affairs, and he was sitting at the side of Dr. Zamenhoff.

In 1905 the Murcia Association started publishing their own magazine, the Hispana Esperantisto (the Spanish Esperantist), under the direction of Mr. Manuel Benavente. This magazine appeared as the central pages in the weekly Murcia, devoted to science, art and literature, and the see of which was at 14, Sociedad Street in our city. They also wrote at the newspapers La verdad (the truth), El Liberal and El Eco de Cartagena (the echo of Cartagena).

In 1907 Mr. Carlos Roca was nominated as President of the Cartagena group, and in this city they started to teach Esperanto courses at the Economical Society, at the Center of General Studies, in the Four Saints School, and at the quarters of Santa Lucía and Los Dolores.

Perhaps the most important thing happened in 1909 on the occasion of the 5th Universal Esperanto Congress in Barcelona. The presidency of honor was accepted by the King of Spain, Don Alfonso XIII, and the Committee was formed by the Rector of the University and the Mayor of Barcelona. Don Ricardo Codorníu communicated officially that the King had nominated Comendador and given the Collar of the Order Isabel la Católica Dr. Zamenhoff. And two years later, in 1911, he also reported that by Royal Order D. Alfonso XIII granted Esperanto the condition of Language of Merit in the Spanish State. This very same day D. Ricardo Codorníu published two works: The Importance of Adopting an Auxiliary Language and How the International Language will Influence in the Progress of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce.

After a search of several I have got from the Netherlands the book published by General Julio Manglada Stöaut;ner and titled Pri Murcia. Kantaro de Murcia (About Murcia. A songbook of Murcia). In the prologue, General Manglada includes honors the humanist D. Ricardo Codorníu with a poem, which ends like this:

Men, birds and plants
we all in firm union
must thank his praxis,
his effort and illusion
for a fairer Mankind
of dialogue and understanding

I know perfectly that this is not the language of today. It is the language of the end of the XIXth and beginning of the XX th centuries. It is the language of Tolstoy and the great idealists who believed in Man.. Today's language is inflation, the price of money, I+D and that of competitis in every corner. But it is not due to the years already gone by: it is because there are no ideas, and when ideas halt, the language of money appears.

There is no questions about that the Group of Esperanto Ricardo Codorníu is the oldest cultural association in Murcia, since when in 1902 it had its see in the Paseo del Malecón, letter C. Of course, it was not a folklore-sports-cultural one, but cultural and intellectual in its strict mean.

When today we see the European Union being built and it is settled up the great problem of language diversity which, with all its crudeness, prevents the integration of the member states, a hundred years before Ricardo Codorníu said how it was to be solved: Every people with their language, and Esperanto —super national— for every one. This reflection is a self evident truth, obvious, it is the Columbus' egg which many people still fail to understand.

It is still surprising that the name of Codorníu and his work have been silenced with obstinacy by those who should have kept his name and work alive as an example for future generations. Hence it is not surprising the fact that Murcia gave the name of a park after a person who has nothing to do with Murcia, like Mr. Camilo José Cela, while Don Ricardo Codorníu is relegated to the most unfortunate obscurity from those who owe him most: the Murcian people.

I finish my talk saying that D. Ricardo Codorníu's two passions, ecology and Esperanto, passions disregarded as utopias by the majority, were put in practice by this genial man, shown that the utopias are real when you believe in them and that it is not enough talking and talking —a common practice nowadays—, but devoting your efforts in body and soul to the problems which mankind has still to solve.

Be it a complement of the great book The Old Tree (El viejo árbol) by my friend Enrique Morales, and as a homage to the hundred and fifty years of the birth of Don Ricardo, the 55 Spanish Esperanto Congress which will take place in Murcia on next July, and the presence two months ago in this very same Culture Chamber of CajaMurcia of the Nobel Prize of Economics of last year, the German Professor Reinhardt Selten, who said his speech in Esperanto. Undoubtedly D. Ricardo Codorníu would have celebrated it enthusiastically.

Thank you.


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