The 52nd annual meeting of the Central American Cooperative Program for Improvement of Crops and Animals (PCCMCA), held in Nicaragua 24-28 April 2006, was dedicated in memoriam to Jorge Bolaños. Jorge was remembered in the opening ceremony with words by Noël Pallais, Director of INTA, Chris Dowswell (on behalf of Norman Borlaug), and Nicaraguan President – and Jorge’s father – Enrique Bolaños.
At least 200 people crowded in the meeting hall to remember Jorge and reflect on his many contributions to Nicaragua, CIMMYT, science, farmers, family and friends. A brief video was shown with footage of Jorge meeting with journalists, talking with friends, interacting with farmers, and smoking his trademark cigars. Among the many things said of Jorge, perhaps the most memorable were the words of a poor Nicaraguan farmer who could scarcely conceal his disbelief and appreciation that this son of the President was meeting, talking and “rubbing elbows” with him in his remote village.
Jorge was also remembered for his leadership of the PRM, the Swiss-funded Central American regional maize program; scientists credit Jorge with modernizing the way they conduct research both individually and collaboratively.
Of course, Jorge was well known to the CIMMYT community. He was a bright physiologist, known worldwide for his research at CIMMYT on drought tolerance in maize. Jorge was also known for his special friendship with and support of field workers, particularly at the Tlaltizapan field station, where he conducted much of his drought tolerance research. Jorge was a unique, flamboyant character: outspoken, humorous, irreverent, intellectual, fun-loving, unforgettable.