Journalist Manny Suárez dies at 92
By The Star Staff
Manuel “Manny” Suárez del Río, whose role in the real events in which two young pro-independence supporters lost their lives at Cerro Maravilla in 1978 changed journalism on the island forever, died Wednesday.
The news was posted on social media by his son, Juan Esteban Suárez.
Manny Suárez worked for over 30 years at the San Juan Star. He left the newspaper before it folded in 2008 and then subsequently was reconstituted under new management as the San Juan Daily Star.
‘’With deep sadness I inform you that in the early hours of today, July 6, 2022, my dear father, Don Manuel Suárez del Río, known as the journalist Manny Suárez, has passed away,” Juan Esteban Suárez said.
Mánny Suárez had a long journalistic career and is considered one of the pillars of investigative journalism on the island. Together with deceased journalist Tomás Stella, they were responsible for making known, through the pages of the San Juan Star, what truly happened on July 25, 1978, when Arnaldo Darío Rosario and Carlos Soto Arriví were killed after they had surrendered to police on the Cerro Maravilla mountaintop.
On that day, the two and undercover agent Alejandro González Malavé forced a taxi driver to take them to Cerro Maravilla.
The morning after the shootings, the police officers said they acted in self-defense, stating that they ordered the two young men to surrender, at which time the activists started shooting at them and they returned fire. Initially, the taxi driver said he was under the dashboard of his cab when the shooting started and could not see who shot first. He contradicted his statement a few days later in an interview with the San Juan STAR, stating that he ducked under the dashboard of the car after the three men (the two activists and undercover agent) left the car, and that he saw 10 heavily armed men approaching. When he emerged from the car, he saw the three men alive and two of them were being beaten by the armed men, who were later identified as policemen.
Suárez also reported on statements from the taxi driver who stated that there was a short exchange of gunfire, and when he was removed to another place nearby he heard a second volley of gunfire, but was asked by the police and investigators of the island Justice Department to forget about the second round of shots. The statement regarding two different volleys of shots was upheld by various people, including ex-officer Jesús Quiñones before a federal and three other civilian witnesses in a STAR interview.
‘’He was an extraordinary human being who taught us to be empathic, generous and compassionate toward others,” Suárez’s son said. “He guided us not to do to others what you would not want them to do to you. In addition, he stressed the importance of dialogue, one that must be carried out with respect and tolerance.”
‘’My wife Catherine, who loved him like a father, and I, his second son, took care of him for 13 years,” he added. “I can proudly say that he lived a happy and dignified life, receiving our love and that of our daughters Sarah and Amanda until his last day. I send a hug and thanks to all those who offered him friendship and love in his beloved homeland, Puerto Rico. Rest in peace dear father. Rest in peace my hero.”
Suárez left the San Juan Star to work for the Government Development Bank and after a brief time there, opted to retire. He was shortly after diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
His son said Manny took the diagnosis in stride and was always in a happy mood.
“It was a very long process,” Juan Esteban Suárez said regarding the length of time in which the disease took over his father.
Despite having Alzheimer’s, in 2014 Suárez translated the novel “Murder in the House of Diamonds’’ by Charles Kane into English. It took him three years to do so.
“He would ask, where is the backspace? I would show him and he would continue typing on the computer,” Juan Esteban said.
The elder Suárez was never told about the death of his son Manny in 2018.
Juan Esteban said his father and mother were quite advanced for their times and that his father pushed his wife to study medicine when they were young.