• .He embodied that unity throughout his career as a person and as a public servant, he said.
  • He served as a bridge between public service and the artistic and cultural community, to the point of erasing differences.
  • His great legacy, which will endure over time, will be the institutions he built, he said.

President Enrique Peña Nieto, today led the tribute to Secretary of Culture Rafael Tovar y de Teresa, in which he said that, “Today more than ever, Mexicans must maintain and strengthen our unity in essence, and what is essential is our culture and our identity”.

"Thank you, Rafael, for having embodied that unity throughout your career as a human being and a public servant,” he said.

At the National Arts Center, whose creation was promoted by Tovar y de Teresa, the president noted that: Culture creates bridges; Rafael Tovar y de Teresa was a bridge between public service and the artistic and cultural community to the point of erasing differences”:

"At all times, Rafael was a uniting factor,” reconciling people and schools of thought, he added.

The President of Mexico said that Tovar y de Teresa, “Understood that culture is our source of identity and projection into the future. That is why his life mission was for Mexicans and the world to know themselves better through it”.

The cultural policies he promoted were the result of an unusual combination of two essences: that of a man of culture and a statesman.

His great legacy, which will endure over time, will be the institutions he built, he said. As the head of the National Council for Culture and Arts, in three different Administrations, he left a deep mark on the cultural policies that he created and enriched as few others have done”.

He explained that he envisaged the National Center for the Arts, “Not only as a physical space for disseminating culture, but as a place with its own life where artists and creators could be trained and families could enjoy art together”.

He also, “Promoted and encouraged creators, fostered music and film, founded Channel 22, created the Center of the Image, the Musical Development System and the Children’s Cultural Development Program, Wings and Roots”.

His work, he added, “Led to the creation of the Secretariat of Culture, of which he was the first director”. The last of the 12 places for which he secured recognition by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site was the “Hydraulic System of Father Tembleque’s Aqueduct” in the states of Mexico and Hidalgo.

President Peña Nieto said that the Renaissance passion of Tovar y de Teresa, “Led him to bring the Leonardo and Michelangelo exhibitions, as well as the replica of the Sistine Chapel and many other projects to Mexico”.

"Rafael wanted all Mexicans to have access to the world’s highest cultural expressions. His passion for democratizing culture was matched only by his efforts to promote the creativity of Mexican artists,” he said.

He said that he was, “A worthy heir of the best and most generous Mexican cultural tradition; a tradition shaped by historical and cultural heritage that makes us proud of our exceptional creators and interpreters, and original thinkers who have reflected on art and the future of the world”.

He said that, “He used the tools of the state for the benefit of creators and the defense of the artistic and cultural heritage of our country,” and said that “the best way to honor his memory is to keep alive his example of love for Mexico and absolute commitment to all the expressions of culture and art, to which Rafael Tovar brought the best of his talent”.

“Culture in Mexico will remember Rafael Tovar y de Teresa, together with other great figures who, in their time,  supported artistic creativity, strengthened our identity and defended our cultural heritage” adding that he regards him as a worthy heir to Ignacio Manuel Altamirano, Justo Sierra, José Vasconcelos and Jaime Torres Bodet.

 “I am sure that history will place him on the altar of these great figures who have served Mexico”.

Offering his condolences to his family, the president noted that Rafael Tovar y de Teresa “was responsible for one of the most important chapters in the cultural policy of our country: culture not only understood as a set of arts, humanities, literature and thought, but as the universe of expressions of our peoples”.

He said that, “With a visionary spirit and enormous zeal, from a young age he knew that protecting and disseminating them would be his way of honoring and serving Mexico. He deeply loved Mexico, our ancient civilizations, our colonial history, and independent Mexico”.

He noted that, “He loved our traditions, our art, literature, music and film. His extraordinary sensitivity developed through music allowed him to venture into the other arts.”

Enrique Peña Nieto declared that as president and as a colleague, he deeply regrets the loss of his Secretary of Culture. “He was an extraordinary man, beyond his personal and professional talent, because of his personal qualities, his qualities as a human being and a good friend, who gave unfailingly good advice”.

Mexico will always recall you as a man who, from the sphere of culture and total and absolute dedication to his vocation served Mexico. “Rest in peace, Rafael Tovar y de Teresa,” he said.

President Enrique Peña Nieto mounted two guards of honor, the first, accompanied by relatives, and the second by members of his Cabinet.


Rafael Tovar Lopez Portillo said his father was, “An exemplary man, who did and gave everything for his family and for Mexico, and never wavered until the end”.

He said that, “Today, more than ever, and after receiving countless displays of affection, support and solidarity, and hearing the respect and admiration with which people refer to him, I am proud to bear my father’s name”.

He said that he bears the name of a Mexican patriot, an exemplary Mexican who worked without vanity and with the sole purpose of making and leaving a better country. That, he added, “is his great legacy”.

He said that in addition to having been a cultural promoter, diplomat, politician, historian and writer, “He was also, and above all things, a husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend”.


Carlos Prieto, an outstanding cellist and member of the artistic community, said that Rafael Tovar y de Teresa was, “An admirable and tireless promoter of culture and an exemplary and authentic civil servant”

He said he always kept an open mind, and was endowed with great intelligence, boundless imagination and a talent for listening, conciliating and negotiating.

“Rafael’s boundless intellectual and artistic curiosity led him at a very young age, or rather as a child, to be a voracious reader, a fan of music, and to be interested in everything related to the world of culture, politics and diplomacy”.

"Rafael was unusual in that he had an encyclopedic knowledge of many different fields of culture, and an enormous capacity for work, action and dialogue with all sectors”.

He considered that, “Mexico has a debt, an immense debt of gratitude”.

That is why, he said: “Let us all contribute to emulating our unforgettable friend; It is the best tribute we can pay him”.