RAFAEL RIVAS VÁZQUEZ Y GALDOS
On Friday, November 24, 2000, Rafael died of pancreatic cancer at age 62.
One year ago, his daughter Ana Gloria Rivas-Vázquez recalled, her father was comforting a little girl, someone he'd never met, after the death of her father.
Today, Rivas-Vázquez's daughter seeks comfort in her father's own words.
Rivas-Vázquez was diagnosed with cancer in April.
``My father had great faith in God,'' said Ana Gloria Rivas-Vázquez. ``He accepted his illness as God's will.''
Rivas-Vázquez was born in New York City in 1937. He was raised in New York, Cuba and Venezuela.
In 1959, Rivas-Vázquez graduated with a law degree from La Universidad de Santo Tomás de Villanueva in Cuba.
After anti-Batista rebels took over Havana that same year, and Fidel Castro became prime minister of Cuba, Rivas-Vázquez fled Cuba and sought exile in Miami.
``He was a strong anti-Batista and anti-Fidel activist during his college years,'' his daughter said. ``His stories of the revolution and the takeover were so vivid. He was an amazing storyteller with an amazing memory.''
During his 12-year hiatus in Miami, Rivas-Vázquez enrolled at the University of Miami and received a master's degree in economics.
In 1972, he returned to Venezuela and worked as an analyst for DISIP, the Venezuelan state security police. He was named director of the intelligence agency in 1989.
In 1975, he collaborated with the French authorities on the tracking of Carlos El Chacal, the infamous terrorist known as ``The Jackal,'' who was responsible for bombings in Paris and other revolutionary terrorist attacks.
During his years in the intelligence field, Rivas-Vázquez founded the Franac Security Group, an intelligence and security consulting firm that dealt with political and intelligence cases in Caracas and later in Miami.
Rivas-Vázquez moved back to Miami in 1994 and became a political and securities advisor to several Latin-American presidents.
``He worked very closely with Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez in 1989,'' his daughter said. He also was a consultant for former Nicaraguan President Violeta Chamorro.
After retiring from the security field, Rivas-Vázquez toured several universities offering lectures on international terrorism and corporate security
In a 1999 documentary on La Universidad de Santo Tomás, Rivas-Vázquez detailed its historic importance.
``He recalled his days as a student and what the school meant for Cuba since it was the first Catholic university,'' said Alex Anton, the film's producer. ``I found that like Rivas-Vázquez, many of the graduates went to become very successful.''
After he stopped his tour, Rivas-Vázquez began to work for Yupi, a Latin American-based Internet search engine.
As part of his job, Rivas-Vázquez responded to e-mail inquiries from users. One inquiry last year came from a 12-year-old girl who asked for some advice on coping with the death of her father.
``Time will heal the pain, and you will eventually accept that painful reality,'' Rivas-Vázquez wrote to her. ``However, you will always remember it.''
Rivas-Vázquez's daughter plans to read the e-mail message at her father's funeral.
Rivas-Vázquez is survived by his wife, Ilse van der Dijs; daughters Ana Gloria Rivas-Vázquez, Maria Isabel Rivas-Vásquez, and A. Victoria Rivas-Vázquez; and sons Francisco A. Rivas-Vásquez, Alejandro Rivas-Vásquez, Andrés Rivas-Vásquez, Arturo Rivas-Vásquez, and Rafael A. Rivas-Vázquez; his sister Margi McCarthy Santos, his brother, José Rafael Rivas, and several other family members.
Mass will be celebrated by the Rev. Franklyn M. Casale, president of St. Thomas University, 1 p.m. today, at St. Augustine Catholic Church, 1400 Miller Rd., in Coral Gables. Interment will directly follow at Flagler Memorial Park, 5301 W. Flagler St.
Arrangements made Maspons Funeral Home, 4111 Le Jeune Road, Coral Gables.