The official portrait of the outgoing PAHO Director, Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, was unveiled today during the swearing-in of the organization’s new Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne.
Dr. Fernando Sánchez Torres, who painted the portrait, participated in the unveiling alongside Dr. Roses. Dr. Sánchez. in addition to being an artist, is a physician and currently President of the National Academy of Medicine of Colombia.
Dr. Roses, who is retiring after 10 years as PAHO Director, was declared Director-Emeritus last September by the 28th Pan American Sanitary Conference. Originally elected in 2002, she was the first woman and the first Argentine to hold the post.
“Every Director is the proud inheritor as well as the re-transmitter of our enormous collective experience. This organization has been in constant evolution, building on the work of those who went before us and exploring new ways to ensure that we pass on to our successors a solid and excellent institution, guided by the immutable principles of cooperation, solidarity, equality and Pan Americanism,” Dr. Roses said in her farewell remarks.
Former PAHO Director Hugh Cumming began the tradition of having portraits painted of all PAHO directors. Dr. Roses’s oil-on-canvas portrait will be placed beside portraits of Sir George Alleyne (1995-2003), Carlyle Guerra de Macedo (1983-1995), Héctor Acuña (1975-1983), Abraham Horwitz (1959-1975), Fred Soper (1947-1959) and Hugh Cumming (1920-1947).
Dr. Roses discovered Dr. Sánchez’s artwork during an official trip to Colombia, where she visited the National Academy of Medicine and saw the portraits of the academy’s presidents on display. She inquired who the artist was and, upon returning to PAHO headquarters, sent a message asking him to paint her official PAHO portrait.
Dr. Sánchez replied, “I don’t paint portraits of people I don’t know.” So in her next visit to Bogotá, Dr. Roses went to meet the artist in person. After a long conversation, he accepted the assignment without hesitation.
“For me it is an enormous honor to see this portrait here at the Pan American Health Organization,” said Dr. Sánchez. “And it’s my first work at PAHO.”