By: Alex Velez, a long time member of the International Trade and Finance Association where I met Charlie Sawyer many years ago.
Charlie and I have maintained a long-distance but rich friendship. He was at St. Mary’s University before I came. He then went on to get a doctorate in economics. This commenced a brilliant academic career enjoying an endowed chair for a good part of it at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Besides economics and international trade, our strongest bond was our interest in Latin America and its travails and challenges. We spent many hours waxing and waning over the phone, whenever I could catch him given his busy schedule. While we decried Latin America‘s slow and turbulent path upward, Charlie never tired of providing impeccably crafted analysis of the region in his classic textbooks. The profundity that he tackled issues like import substitution industrialization was unparalleled. He felt very strongly that economics was a key to both understanding and remedying the region’s problems. He was never sure Latin American governments would pay much attention but his textbooks became seminal works in the understanding of the Latin American problématique. He was by no means a naïve theorist. His treatment of Latin America’s colonial economic history and its bearing today was simply masterful. I was a great benefactor as a teacher as were readers of his work.
I was also extremely fortunate as he was also a great raconteur, wry humorist, and conversationalist as some of you may remember from his frequent presence in our annual meetings. He informed my mind and touched my heart. These I will treasure forever.