Thursday, October 28

Offshore Biennial

In recent days, three interesting pieces of news have been linked around Mario Vargas Llosa; The first is a new praise from the writer to Álvaro Uribe Vélez, a former president who with his laws, lies and traps promoted paramilitary groups, allowed massacres and crimes and sabotaged the peace process in Colombia. The second are statements in which he doubts democracy because he believes that most people do not know how to vote “well” and the third is the confirmation that they usually take their profits to tax havens to avoid paying taxes. It is not new news, Vargas Llosa for decades has been dedicated to supporting dictatorial and murderous governments; He made it clear long ago that those who do not think how he should not have the right to vote and, there are so many corrupt and tax evaders who surround him, that it is natural for him to do the same.

What makes me think is that, at the same time that this is happening, there is a biennial of Latin American novel that bears his name and that this biennial is sponsored by FIL, the most important book fair in Latin America. These two facts lead me to ask myself questions: is it pertinent for a man with these ideas and actions to become the figure behind such an important event? Is our literary environment so bad of ideas and debates that neither the editors nor the cultural managers nor the writers themselves are embarrassed that Vargas Llosa is the one who grants the award and that he also does it on behalf of FIL?

After all, being a writer is thinking and asking yourself questions; Doesn’t anyone do it for them? Are they silent because it is convenient? Have we created a literary ecosystem where we avoid thinking and, worse, questioning these issues? In truth, the matter is rather mediocre and murky. We all know that our cultural system is old and obeys political interests; That is why the prizes that enhance the system’s media are awarded by kings and princesses. We know that publishers are looking for writers who are not controversial to serve as public relations with governments and, furthermore, we are clear that a good part of the writers that are promoted do not know the countries that they narrate and that cover their ignorance with careerism and with aesthetic justifications that they copy from other places because they are not able to create them themselves.

But Spanish American literature is not those writers sheltered under a retrograde system; Our literature is a lot of people who believe with integrity and honesty despite never being awarded, of people who experiment and make the street and the academy talk without any kind of complexes; there are hundreds of creators who get up every day to fill each page with truth, honesty and daring. That is why the so-called Vargas Llosa Biennial smells so ugly. It is, to put it in words that Vargas Llosa and his classrooms understand, a kind of Biennial off Shore, a ceremony where hypocrisy reigns and where logic corresponds more to shady deals between old literary gangsters than to luminosity, reflections and aesthetic pleasure that the winner would be able to convey if he or she were chosen in a more transparent event that did not carry the burden of an ill-fated Nobel Prize.

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