Castilian has twenty-two consonants and twenty-one exist in the other Romance languages. The letter eñe is the only one that only has one language per house. For Martín Caparrós (Buenos Aires, 1957) the eñe is raised, greeted, flamed: “The eñe is like a cry or a flag.” America is the name of his new book (Random House, 2021) in which after thirty years “reporting” in Latin America, he talks about the 19 countries in which the eñe sounds in speech. America it serves an area of 12 million square kilometers in which some 420 million people live.
Caparrós affirms that the absence of politics in literature is impossible. There is an eye (or a look), there is a pen, and there is a mind that conceives the world under a frame. So, “when the Colombian ambassador refers to neutral writers, with respect to the delegation of participants at the Madrid Book Fair, he does not refer to the absence of conflict or to writers against President Iván Duque, the neutral would be those who they row in their favor. ” And he closes with the anecdote: “When I was young I wrote the history of the Boca team. I had to meet with its president, at that time Mauricio Macri, decades later he would be the president of all Argentines. And Macri told me: I accept the interview but the text must be without ideology, to which I replied: you will show yours and I will write from mine. It is impossible otherwise “.
Mauricio Macri told me that he would accept my interview if the text had no ideology, to which I replied: you will show yours and I will write from mine
When he began to document and handle data to write the book, he realized that “the 19 countries that speak Spanish form a unique group in the world, very powerful.” Brazil is left out because “it is so disproportionately large, with such a different history and idiosyncrasies, that it somehow misrepresents the data.” The Argentine assures that the data on the area narrate 40% of Brazil and 60% of all 19 countries. “Brazil was so out of scale that it does not enter the same line of analysis.” For example, according to the IMF, the Gross Domestic Product of all Latin America is about 5.3 billion dollars and that of Brazil is 1.9 billion. “If Latin America existed there would be two: one made from a single country, another from twenty; one with a certain weight in the world, the other less; one speaks Portuguese, the other Spanish,” he says.
America is a colossal text (671 pages) that is nourished by travel and research, and in which it talks about people and their customs, about violence and faith, about social classes and skin color, about changes in a continent that has gone from living in rural areas to building huge, extremely hostile metropolises. “It is often thought that it is the continent of nature and it is true that there are ruthless jungles, endless peaks, the longest and most mighty river, saltpeter, plateaus and earthquakes; but the world that is supposed to be rural has become a network of cities “, relates Caparrós, who points out that in 1960 half of the americans They lived in cities and now they are more than 80 percent (four out of five).
Nothing improves the past so much as having been the victim of horrific infamies, and the ‘American’ Indians were without a doubt: a horrifying genocide
Caparrós was motivated “to understand what Latin America is today, in the now”, because, as he indicates, “for many years no one made an attempt to read the whole.” Perhaps among the most read is The Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano, who also turns 50 years after its publication, but Caparrós points out: “In the book, very much in keeping with the time, there were badly bad guys and good guys: the natives who tried to resist (…) But those reducing visions of the history only produces phrases and cardboard titans and outbursts without futures “. For the writer, in The veins, “There was something unfair in pretending that all the evils of the continent began with the conquest.”
We read in his essay that for certain americans the Golden Age “is pre-Columbian, and the violence and injustice of the Catholic conquest are the original sin that we still pay for: they came to destroy those times of grace and harmony.” Caparrós points out that the glorification of the times before Columbus responds to new nationalisms and that, “nothing improves the past so much as having been a victim of frightful infamies, and the Indians americans They were without a doubt: a horrifying genocide. “When asked about his reading of the literal decolonization of the streets of Latin America, he is clear:” I don’t like them. I don’t like any sculpture. He would put giant ice creams that would melt, “and he points out,” but hey, for many years he has been taking away from Colón, in Argentina for ten years. I can’t quite understand the commotion with the recent exchange of the statue of Columbus for the indigenous woman of Mexico City. Times change and symbols change. We saw Lenin’s sculptures on the floor and nothing happened. ”
“It is the most unequal continent because the bourgeoisie and those who own the means of production or raw materials do not need the internal market to buy them to do business. Money is made by exporting,” he says. And we read: “Inequality is the most extreme measure of that difference that some of us believe is injustice. There are poorer societies, such as those in Africa, but in those countries there are less rich, fewer members of the wealthy class.” And he adds that inequality measures “the ability of a few to keep what could be of many.”
We live in a continent that runs away from itself: that we have not known how to build to stay
Caparrós is interested in the diaspora, of which he himself is a part. “We live in a continent that runs away from itself: that we have not known how to build to stay.” According to the UN, in 1990 there were about twelve million americans outside, and Caparrós assures that “now there are more than thirty million”, almost three times more than in thirty years. The author thinks that migrating “is the greatest renunciation of any search for the common.” “When the emigrant leaves, he says I can’t change it, we can’t change it, we can’t produce the movements that would allow us to improve our countries and stay.” So, “as we are not going to save all together I am going alone, far away, I am undone”. He points out that few collective movements have had as many followers as this one, “which profoundly disdains collective solutions.”
60 million people would be ÑUSA; while two centuries ago Hispanics were not even two percent of North Americans, now they are twenty. And he affirms: “They serve North American society for different functions: to support neglected jobs, of course, but also to face evil and put it in someone else’s place.” That group that would serve to blame them and “feel that you are on the side of the good guys.” It is that tremendous paradox between needing migrants and fearing them.