It was nearly two years ago that we wrote in this column about Watertown native Roger Burbach and his death back in March of 2015.

Although we never personally knew Roger, he was the author of many books on Latin America and was deeply involved with coverage of the various governments that were in charge of those countries. He was also a big believer in some form of socialism as the way to govern in those countries.

As we said back in September of 2015, to most Watertown residents, Roger seemed to be “under the radar.” Except for a few classmates, few seemed to know much about him. But, in the larger context of Latin American countries he was well known.

At the time of his death Roger had nearly completed his final book, and because of his death, that book wasn’t ready for publication until now.

Roger’s sister, Ann Burbach, wrote to us this week that the book, titled “Fractured Utopias,” was released this week and can be purchased from a variety of businesses.

Because what we have read about Roger and his status in Latin American countries, we thought a little information on this latest book would be of interest to our readers. The book first went on sale at Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library in Oakland, California, and after some readings and commentaries, those present adjourned to the nearby Le Bateau Ivre Restaurant in Berkeley, California, to remember him and this book.

Here’s what a review by Federico Fuentes, who worked closely with Roger, had to say about this Watertown native and his final book:

“Provocative, sad, sexual and compelling — “Fractured Utopias” is Roger Burbach’s parting gift to the left movements of the Americas and the causes he served for over half a century. Beginning with his farm upbringing in Wisconsin in the 1950s, Roger portrays his personal encounters with romance, revolution and war in North and South America. Detailed recollections of his time as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Peruvian Andes in the ’60s, his firsthand reporting of the coup that overthrew Salvador Allende in Chile and his insider knowledge of the Sandinista Revolution provide vivid testimony on the victories and defeats of Latin American struggles for social justice.

“In this revealing memoir, Roger brings the unflinching honest he applied to his political work to bear on his personal passions and paradoxes as a husband, father and amorist. An award-winning author and editor of many books on Latin American social movements, U.S. imperialism, 21st century socialism and globalization, Roger finished this manuscript just weeks before his death in March of 2015.

“Roger was truly a remarkable man who never let adversity get in his way. He will perhaps be best remembered for his writings and research, but he was above all an activist dedicated to the fight for a better world and a passionate supporter of the struggles of the people of Latin America.”

For the record, Roger was a graduate of St. Henry Catholic Grade School here in Watertown and then went on to Watertown High School where he graduated in 1962. He received his undergraduate degree from St. Norbert College in De Pere and in 1975 received a doctorate in economic history in Latin America from Indiana University. His parents were Hubert and Rita Burbach who farmed in rural Watertown.

Among his past positions was that of director of the center for the study of the Americas, based in Berkeley and over the years he authored many books on Latin America and the U.S. foreign policy on Latin American countries. Two of his better known books are “Agribusiness in the Americas” and “Fire in the Americas.” If you Google him, many of the books he authored will pop up.

Roger had been confined to a wheelchair since 1989 when he suffered a spinal cord injury in Nicaragua but that didn’t keep him from his life’s work and his writings much of which were derived from his experiences while in Latin America.

Roger was another Watertown High School graduate who went on to an extremely interesting life and a strong focus on Latin and South American countries and their governments.

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This note is just a reminder that there are a lot of activities available for people who want to celebrate the founding of our country on Monday.

Pitterle-Beaudoin Post. No. 189, American Legion, is hosting its annual July 4 celebration at Riverside Park and there’s plenty of activities to enjoy. The orange boards, live music and food will be held Monday from 3 to 11 p.m. and then on Tuesday, the Fourth of July, the Legion activities will resume at 10 a.m. and continue until the 6 p.m. closing.

One of the highlights of this year’s two-day event is the return of wrestling with matches by the Brew City Wrestlers at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

The popular fireworks show, sponsored by the Legion will light up the sky Monday at about 9:30 p.m.

And of course, the annual Fourth of July Parade will kick off at its traditional time — Tuesday at 10 a.m. from Main and Water streets. It will travel east on Main to Fourth Street, then north on Fourth Street and east on Labaree until disbanding at the park. The parade is organized by the Fourth of July Parade Committee and once again will have well over 100 units.

Stop out, take in some of the fun and entertainment, and help the Legion succeed in their biggest fundraiser of the year. Also, take in the parade as thousands of others do every year and show your support for the committee and most importantly for our country and the flag.

And, remember to take off your headgear and stand when the first color guard comes by announcing the start of the parade.


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