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    Modest, The Great

    The lawyer Modesto Seara Vazquez, in the Plaza del Valle in Oaxaca (Mexico), in a file image.MSV

    The overflowing tenacity of Modesto Seara Vazquez (Allariz, September 11, 1931-Mexico City, December 26, 2022) overwhelmed all of us who had the pleasure of sharing with him the innumerable adventures he undertook with his lucidity, imagination, and sense of humor. throughout his long and fruitful life.

    Galician of origin, after studying at the Complutense, he received his doctorate in 1959 at the Sorbonne with an innovative work on the regulation of interplanetary and space law. Since the early sixties, he has taught teaching at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). In his Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, he launched the Division of Higher Studies and the Center for International Relations, which would immediately become a reference where many of the people who would become part of the internationally prestigious Mexican foreign service would be trained.

    Author of dozens of monographs and more than a hundred long academic articles, let us highlight here: legally, his manual on Public International Law, published at the end of the 1960s and which has already reached 25 editions, the last one in 2019; politically speaking, his essay the decisive hour (1986), surely his most influential intellectual work, where he makes an analysis of international reality, boldly introducing an ecological perspective; and, in the literary field, Around the World in 80 Years, the first volume of his memoirs where the multifaceted personality and biography of Professor Seara emerges in all its fecundity.

    A man of enormous culture and inexhaustible curiosity -he spoke five languages ​​and understood a dozen-, Seara maintained unwavering democratic convictions throughout his life. An ideological socialist, he was an anti-Franco activist when he was affiliated with the PSOE for more than a quarter of a century. In 1979 he left the party, when the Federal Committee did not approve his proposal as Secretary General of Galicia so that the electoral lists were configured in fully transparent primaries. He then joined the PSOE-Historico and, immediately, the Socialist Party (PS), with which he participated in the 1982 general elections as head of the list for Madrid. On the same electoral morning, they withdrew the party’s registration due to its possible confusion with the PSOE ballots, something that he always denounced when he understood that, in that soup of acronyms that became the first democratic electoral appointments, innumerable were the cases in those who mixed the terms and denominations of the political parties.

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    In any case, the ordo amoris or vital drive -to say it with Max Scheler- of Modesto Seara was, university life. Commissioned by one of his students at UNAM, Heladio Ramirez Lopez, then governor of Oaxaca, launched the Oaxaca State Universities System (SUNEO) in 1990. In this beautiful Mexican state with its mountains, jungle, and coastline, he promoted a innovative model that he himself designed – already with the new century he explained in detail his idea of ​​what higher education should be and what it should serve for in his work: A new model of University-. Designed to promote the development of one of the then most impoverished states in Mexico, after the pioneering Technological University of the Mixteca, nine other Universities would come to SUNEO, with their 19 Campuses that, to this day, lead to each of the corners of this State and its more than ten thousand students and researchers, ´the ambition of knowledge and excellence. The efficiency and transparency with which Seara has directed the destinies of SUNEO -with an always limited budget-, made this system a reference for a State pact in Mexico, where all the governors kept Seara in the position of rector, scrupulously respecting his university autonomy.

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    Today, this university system of which Seara has been the soul and motor, is an international reference. In addition to the educational and cultural project in which his students receive intense extracurricular training, which imbues them with the classics of literature and thought in parallel to their official studies, he has also developed an intense research activity. In its short -for this field- three decades of existence, SUNEO has received various awards and distinctions in fields such as mechatronics, robotics, information technology, health sciences, business sciences or international studies, Seara’s own field of specialization, which recently inaugurated the Isidro Fabela Study Center at the Universidad del Mar, one of those ten SUNEO university centers, located in one of the most beautiful corners of the planet, the Huatulco bays. There, Modesto Seara took root, along with Tere Hayna, the love of his life, a woman without whom it is incomprehensible how much Seara himself came to achieve and be.

    Seara and his model have managed, in this way, to radically transform -that is, from the roots- one of the most complex and diverse orographic, socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic environments on the planet -there are more than a dozen indigenous realities, with their own languages ​​and customs in this State. There are not a few locals who remember that when the SUNEO adventure began, they referred to their Campus as the Seara desert. Their achievements make visible the transforming power of education and research, making it clear how budgetary investment in these areas, in the long run, is the only one that is always profitable. As the report dedicated to him by The Economist evocatively subtitled, through SUNEO, the grasshoppers of hope have certainly arrived in Oaxaca.

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    Seara Vazquez received innumerable recognitions such as the Aztec Eagle -the highest decoration that the Government of Mexico grants to foreigners-, the Honorary Presidency of the Mexican Association of International Studies that he himself had founded in 1963 or, in Spain, the Medal of Honor of the Menendez Pelayo International University (UIMP) or the Castelao Medal of the Xunta de Galicia (2011). However, today, when Modesto “El Grande” has just left us, the greatest award and tribute that can be paid to him is to express the enormous void that he leaves us, not only to those of us who had the privilege of being his confidants and friends. , but above all, to the university world in particular, since it knew how to understand, dream and make reality what the Universities of the 21st century should be like.

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