Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rodolfo Paz - Tenacatita Visionary

El Amarillo

by Carlos Tello Diaz

In the fifties, Rodolfo Paz Vizcaino had a dream: to found a city in the middle of nowhere which would become the tourist destination that the country needed. This is the tale of his dream, the story of a person who had everything and ended up with nothing. 

“I remember him in a dark grey suit and with gold teeth.” This is how a reporter described El Amarillo when he met him in jail, where he lived full of illusions. He told the reporter, “You are the man that my masterpiece needs. Do you know what it is? It’s the most extraordinary, the largest, and the most unique work that a single man has undertaken. I want to create a city! A marvelous city, where there’s no room for sadness or worries, the most beautiful in the world.” In the winter of 1960, Rodolfo Paz Vizcaino waited in cell 83 at the L block in the federal prison in Mexico City. It was Christmas Eve and he was depressed. He was lamenting that the bathrooms were “excessively dirty and the prisoner’s uniforms were old and tattered.” Paz had just been detained for writing bad checks in Guadalajara. He was still the owner of one of the most beautiful properties on the coast of Jalisco; but he didn’t want to sell his land, not even to get out of jail, because he was still blinded by the vision which had struck him decades ago, of building the most beautiful city in the world on Tenacatita bay. The people called him El Amarillo after the character from Augustín Yañez’s novel La Tierra Prodiga, a character Paz inspired and claimed as his own. In prison he wrote to the judge: “I’m attaching the book, or novel, La Tierra Prodiga, so that you, the judge, see part of my life.” This is how reality imitates fiction. 

Rodolfo Paz Vizcaino was a native of southern Jalisco. He was born in the municipality of Tonaya, one of the poorest in the state.“He was a campesino,” affirmed José Rogelio Alvarez, who headed the colonization of the coast of Jalisco during the government of Yañez. “I knew him in 1953 when he would have been about forty years old. He had to have been born around 1910 or 1915.” El Amarillo hardly began as a colonizer; he had been a rancher since his youth, but he had made his money selling goods between the coast and the highlands. He lived between Sayula and Purificación, in southern Jalisco. 


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