The 1960s generation—a product of modern Puerto Rico, which was sparked by the economic growth of the colonial populism between 1940 and 1960—could be defined by its excellent academic formation and its defiant independent thought. They were, therefore, able to confront the old traditions of the Church. Sparked by the exhaustion of populism, the Cuban Revolution, and the Cold War, this generation was tempered in public plazas by the struggles for University reforms; the war climate in Vietnam; the struggles against the military draft and the presence of the ROTC in the University of Puerto Rico; and by the new struggle against the colonial condition of Puerto Rico. At the religious level, this generation was enriched by the movements that sought to renovate the Church and by the restoration of the social dimension of the Gospel that emerged from the World Council of Churches, the World Student Christian Federation, Church and Society in Latin America (ISAL), and by radicalization of the Catholic Church in Latin America as of the Second Vatican Council, and the Latin American Episcopal Council celebrated in Medellin, where they participated through ecumenical experiences. This generation worked with the problem of faith and ideology, revealed the problem of the gospel and culture, and articulated a new practice as well as a new protestant political discourse centered on the Liberation theology. Consequently, an important sector of the churches linked their thought and practices to the international protestant culture—particularly, to the avant-garde Latin American culture that was emerging from the tight coordinates of the United States-Puerto Rico relationship.
As a result, the 1960s and 1970s were two decades marked by the struggles between Americanized generations and the latter one—both formed by two different historical contexts and situated in the tension of the Cold War. In the aforementioned issues, young pastors, seminarians, and university students from protestant churches confronted and were confronted by the previous generations. This amounted to a clash of generations that not only included the young generations but also those old pastors from the 1930s and 1950s—such as Reverend Miguel Limardo and Dr. Nehemías Cintrón, among others—who had progressed in their ideological and theological positions and who represented another culture. Therefore, it was not only a generational clash but also a cultural clash. More than 35 young pastors and seminarians suffered the consequences of persecution by church authorities. The Evangelic Council’s Office of University Affairs and the University Chaplaincy were eliminated, while the Evangelic Seminary suffered the ideological control of the right in its Board of Directors for more than twenty years. It was around this time that the infamous book Entre Cristo y el Che Guevara: historia de la subversión política en las iglesias evangélicas de Puerto Rico (Between Christ and Che Guevara: Real History of the Political Subversion of the Puerto Rican Evangelical Churches) was published by Palma Real publishing house. This shift not only took place among the protestants but also in the Catholic Church, where the authorities closed their seminar in the Catholic University and dismantled missions in poor sectors, such as in the towns of Comerío, the slum of La Perla, and the town of Coamo.
Autor: Samuel Silva Gotay
Published: March 30, 2016.