Juan Francisco Rodriguez Matute

June 1st, 2007

[private] v5-6-Fashion-Juan MatuteWho:
Juan Francisco Rodriguez Matute is a landmark in downtown Coxen Hole. Most people know about him, can describe him, but know little about this man. Juan was born in Corozal, but he doesn’t remember how old he is or his birth date. For many years he lived in Juticalpa with his friend Victor, and five years ago Juan moved to Coxen Hole. Since then Juan has become a point of reference, sitting in his red wheelchair in front of the entrance to HB Warren. He sometimes looks after bags and things people leave with him when they go into HB Warren. “The best days are when the ship comes to town,” says Juan.
When Juan was a small child he fell ill with polio. He almost died, and when the fever left, he was a quadriplegic. “My mother helped me, but not my father,” Juan says with sadness. While both his father and mother have died, several of his six brothers and six sisters live in Corozal. Juan says that they don’t visit. Juan’s greatest sadness comes from seeing his six-year-old daughter passing on the street but not being able to talk to her. The girl lives in Spanish Town with her mother. “I don’t know her name,” says Juan.
Juan has never been away from Roatan and every day between 7am and 5pm he sits in downtown Coxen Hole. He has a Boston Redsox baseball cap he wears when it rains and a blue jacket he sometimes puts on. He wears a white, long sleeve shirt with blue, vertical stripes. It is not easy to live as a disabled person on Roatan. Still Juan leads his life with dignity. “I didn’t go to school, but I have my head square on my shoulders,” says Juan who has many friends and several people who have placed him under their care. Today Juan lives in the Punta neighborhood of Coxen Hole. “People here, they take care of me, they feed me and give me a bit of everything I need,” he says. Luis Alonso, an 11-year-old boy, pushes Juan’s wheelchair every day from his apartment to his station in front of HB Warren. Don Toño, changes his clothes and washes him. Doña Theresa and Xiamara cook for him two meals a day and Doña Leticia takes Juan to the Catholic Church on Sundays. [/private]

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