“Life has been worth it. We have worked intensely”. These were the farewell words that “Profe” said to me last time we met in November 2019 during the American School of Rheumatology Congress in Atlanta.
It was a friendship that lasted 41 years. A period that went by in the blink of an eye. I still remember as if it were last month when we met at a PANLAR congress in Bogota in 1078, and from that moment on until the last time I saw him I can only have memories filled with admiration, learnings, and affection.
We shared breakfasts filled with charm where we liked to imagine and create the future. “Profe” was a visionary and hard worked from start to finish, which resulted determinant for various projects: his support to move forward on ACCAR, on 1993, during the IV Colombian Congress of Rheumatology in Bogota. The launching of GLEE (Latin American Group for the study of Spondyloarthritis), under the presidency of Dr. Carlo Vinicio Caballero, in Santa Marta in 2003. In addition to the of the first Pan-American Congress of Spondyloarthritis in Cartagena in October 2005.
In these spaces there are always witnesses of his work. For example, in Bogota Dr. Antonio Iglesias on that PANLAR congress, and in Atlanta his favorite fellow Luis Javier Jara and his distinguished nephew Dr. Luis Vega.
In the PANLAR Congress of 1982 in Washington, which was done along with the ARA Congress (American Rheumatic association) that year, “Profe” with a group of distinguished Latin American Leaders, Doctors Alarcon, Segovia, Manuel Patarroyo, Antonio Reginato, and Graciela Alarcon, showed us the path forward.
We also shared activities on various expert groups where he had a great participation: GLADAR, GRAPPA, SPARTAN, among others.
After the PANLAR presidency of Dr. Juan Angulo from Peru, “Profe” as interim president was in charge of helping define the new horizons for the future of PANLAR, thus in his presidency the League that was projected in the following presidencies of Doctors Antonio Ximenes from Brazil, John Reveille from USA, Carlos Pineda from Mexico, Carlo Vinicio Caballero from Colombia, Enrique Soriano from Argentina and it will continue to do so in the upcoming presidency of Doctor Carlos Lozada from USA. Today we are able to see the results of this visionary approach.
“Profe” made numerous publications, he wrote multiple books, educated a great number of fellows, gave conferences in several countries an received many awards. In short, he took a tour around the world with his intelligence, knowledge and mentorship.
Among the many outcomes of ”Profe”, we have the Vasey-Espinoza criteria and the association with the BW38 Gen in Psoriatic Arthritis, which are still current and have been one of the greatest contributions of Latin America in the field of Spondyloarthritis.
There are two spaces that had a lot of transcendence for him and that became his two arms: the Peruvian Rheumatology Society and the academic area with his Fellows. Each one is in charge and will continue to be in charge of telling their stories and experiences with “Profe”.
I would never finish if I named everyone who knew him, nor all the places that had his proactive presence. “Profe” wouldn’t refuse coming back again and again to his roots whenever it was required. I will only allow myself to name some of them in Colombia: Valledupar, Santa Marta, Armenia, Medellin, Bogota, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, and Cali. Of course, he was in many cities of the continent, passing through his city of origin, Lima, crossing all Latin America, USA, Canada, and Europe.
Along with other important professors such as Graciela Alarcon, Donato Alarcon Segovia, Antonio Reginato, Abraham Garcia-Kutzbach, Luis Javier Jara, Morton Scheinberg, Manuel Martinez, Carlos Pineda, John Reveille, among others, who, like him, helped forge and define a great part of the specialty in Latin America.
“Profe” Espinoza had a life filled with personal, family, and professional triumphs. He had the total satisfaction of having lived fully and having received the pertinent recognitions, something that not every man is able to say. He was a special BEING that reduced the Universe to a single embrace, a single glance, to a single piece of advice.
He was definitely a quiet and very effective facilitator. A teacher 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
After having shared more than 40 years of experiences, emotions, moments of joy, concerns, and challenges with “Profe” Espinoza, I have come to the certainty that a minute of silence will not be enough to honor his invaluable legacy.