Wed | May 27, 2020

Adiós, Montes Veoca: Ward Theatre Foundation bids farewell to deputy head of mission at the Mexican Embassy

Published:Wednesday | December 31, 1969 | 7:00 PM
Embassy of Mexico Quintet and Pat Gooden performing at Jazz for the Ward at the Institute of Jamaica lecture hall in downtown Kingston on Sunday. - Photos by Marcia Rowe
From left: Myrna Hague, jazz vocalist; Mexican Ambassador Leonora Rueda; Ruby Martin, chairman of The Ward Theatre Foundation; and Cedric McDonald.

Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer

Ruby Martin, chairman of the Ward Theatre Foundation, described outgoing deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Mexico, Abraham Montes Veoca, as a great supporter of the foundation in every way.

Martin's statement was made on Sunday, towards the conclusion of the Ward Theatre Foundation-organised event, Jazz for the Ward, held at the Institute of Jamaica. Mexican Ambassador Leonora Rueda was the patron. And so, as a 'brawta', the audience was invited to join the foundation and the embassy in a brief but fitting farewell to Montes Veoca, who has reached retirement age.

The farewell was marked by two significant gestures: the presentation of a painting and a performance from the Embassy of Mexico Quintet. The quintet comprises five embassy employees: three Jamaicans, one Honduran and one Mexican, and is said to be the brainchild of Montes Veoca as an artistic cultural mix between Mexico and Jamaica.

Creditable performance

Dressed in Mexican costumes, the group, under the directorship of Jamaican classical singer Pat Gooden, gave a creditable performance of a Mexican song Cielito Lindo and a medley of Bob Marley's songs, including No Woman No Cry and One Love.

Prior to the entertainment, Martin, flanked by representatives of the painter Earl Gordon, who taught at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, presented the framed work of art.

And Ambassador Rueda paid compliments to her deputy. "Good work is not possible without a team, and he is a very, very strong part of the team," before asking the audience to join her in applauding her deputy. She also said that it was an honour to be the patron of the concert.

In between the two presentations, Montes Veoca spoke to The Gleaner. He explained how he learned of Ruby Martin and the Ward Theatre Foundation. The encounter came through a Jamaican high commissioner to the United Kingdom, who was visiting Mexico. When he learned that Montes Veoca was being assigned to Jamaica, and in giving him pointers on cultural aspects of Jamaica, he told him to contact Martin, and as they say the rest is history.

A bit of history

In addition to inviting a group of 23 Mexicans to perform in Jamaica for their country's 50th anniversary, Montes Veoca has done "a little research" on the shared history of Jamaica and Mexico. He learned that in 1658, 500 Mexicans were in Jamaica and took part in the war between Britain and Spain. Three hundred members of that group lost their lives.

In thanking the foundation earlier, Montes Veoca also highlighted the evidence of Mexico's presence in Jamaica and how to get to them. The places are Rio Nuevo in St Ann, where the 300 Mexicans died; Mexico Cave, Mexico Mountain and Mexico Estate in St Elizabeth; Mexico in St Catherine and Mexico, a set of housing units in Arnett Gardens.

Needless to say, detailed information on these places has made its way on to T-shirts that ask "Did you know? Mexico is in Jamaica."