Today we have learned that our dear colleague Félix Ernesto Chávez, a member of our research group ‘Body and Textuality,’ was brutally murdered last Monday in the course of a burglary in México DC. Félix had arrived just two weeks ago to teach a course at UNAM and was staying with relatives. A man who had been doing repairs to their house assaulted it, together with two accomplices. Félix resisted their vicious attack and died defending his uncle, aunt and cousin, who were also murdered.

Born in Cuba in 1977, Félix was both an outstanding researcher and a brilliant poet (as Félix Hangelini). He earned his doctoral degree in ‘Comparative Literature and Theory of Literature’ here at UAB in 2010, under Meri Torras co-supervision, and was currently a post-doc researcher at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. He had been the President of the Asociación de Jóvenes Investigadores de la Literatura Hispánica, ALEPH (2009-2011), and had taught in places as varied as the Universidad de La Habana, the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3, and the University of Miami. He was one of the still too few men who write about women, particularly women poets in Spanish; at the time of his death he was working on the Romantic women poets of both Spain and Cuba, as he felt they had been unfairly neglected. As a writer, he had published the essay on Walt Whitman La construcción de las olas (2003), and the poetry collections La Devastación (La imaginación de la Bestia) (2006), and Restauración de la luz (2007).

When first reading the message notifying Félix’s death, I just thought it could not be true. Horrifying violence of this kind happens to others, not to our friends. As the hours pass, the monstrosity of his untimely death slowly sinks in and it feels like sheer nightmare. I won’t enter here into a discussion of the uncontrolled violence that México DC suffers from, for we might as well read Félix’s murder as one of those appalling jokes destiny seems fond of cracking (yes, I am thinking all the time of our dear Mia Victori, who also died far from home). Whatever the case, I wouldn’t like Félix to be remembered for his grisly end but for his gentleness, sweet good temper and intelligence.

It’s simply impossible to understand why things like this must happen. Some human beings are indeed vermin beyond redemption and I rebel at the idea that others like our gentle Félix must pay for their greed, stupidity and violence. I’ll leave you with the final lines of Félix’s last entry in his blog, El bosque escrito, and I’ll ask you to always bear in mind how utterly absurd, ironic, cold-hearted destiny can be:

“Estoy en la Ciudad de México y tengo gastritis mientras veo caer grandes chaparrones del cielo, y se mojan las sillas de madera de la terraza, la mesa llena de queso traído de Zacatecas, los enormes cristales impolutos. El cielo más cercano que nunca, antojadizo, volátil. Nada, sin embargo, me resulta familiar. Y me pregunto qué habría sido de mi vida hace más de diez años si hubiera empezado por aquí.”

Rest in peace, Félix Ernesto Chávez.