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En Español: Writers’ political responsibilities and resistance


Photo by Kevin Wong
Photo by Kevin Wong

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Ningún escritor está obligado a escribir o hablar de política. El tema a tratar en una obra determinada es parte de la libertad artística de la que goza el autor. En contrapartida, lo que sí hemos visto florecer con recurrencia son regímenes despóticos que censuran y castigan a quienes eligen usar la pluma para denunciar los abusos del poder.

Esto no significa que el escritor deba aislarse de la esfera pública. Es precisamente bajo el control de estos gobiernos orwellianos, donde la política suele tocar todos los ámbitos de la vida personal, que la realidad lo arrincona y a veces, sin proponérselo, es forzado a confrontarla en papel y tinta.

En tiempos convulsos, los escritores suelen ser vistos como pensadores que deben compartir sus reflexiones ante la crisis y las acciones de sus gobernantes. Si bien no es una carga inexorable, en un país como Venezuela, signado por un gobierno totalitario que es al mismo tiempo una fábrica de hacer pobres, la opción del silencio se convierte en complicidad y postura.

Los cantos de sirena de Chávez y Maduro lograron lo impensable: convertir al país con la mayor reserva de petróleo del planeta en el más violento, con escasez de comida y medicinas, y la inflación más alta del mundo. Existen argumentos de peso para aseverar que la revolución bolivariana no es una dictadura, pero tampoco una democracia. Países con tradición democrática deberían verse en ese espejo, en tiempos donde flirtean con la posibilidad de elegir ególatras de lenguaje agresivo y excluyente.

Varios de mis cuentos y artículos de no ficción abordan el tema político como un acto de liberación de una realidad asfixiante. Pero no todos. Es importante incorporar el tema siempre que aporte significativamente a la obra, y por qué no, al debate público; más no toda la literatura debe dedicarse a escudriñar el asunto, ni todo escritor ha de presentarse como militante comprometido de determinada causa política.

En mi caso, por ejemplo, encuentro difícil, casi imposible, escribir literatura infantil en este contexto. En todo caso, seguir escribiendo en un país donde entre comprar un libro y comida, la gente elegirá la comida, si es que la consigue o le alcanza el dinero, ya es en sí un acto político.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Translated by Rebecca Hanssens-Reed (and reviewed by Kelsi Vanada)

No writer is obliged to write or talk about politics. The issues that are addressed in a particular work are part of the artistic freedom enjoyed by the author. Nevertheless, what we have seen flourish throughout history are despotic regimes that censure and punish those who use their pen to reveal abuses of power.

But that does not mean that the writer must be isolated from the public sphere. It is precisely under the control of these Orwellian governments, where politics invade all aspects of personal life, that reality corners the writer, often without warning, to the point that he is forced to confront it with paper and ink.

In times of strife, writers are seen as intellectuals who should provide answers to the crisis and the actions of their rulers. In a country like Venezuela, marked by a totalitarian revolution that is at the same time a factory manufacturing poverty, the option of silence becomes complicity and posturing.

Chávez’s and Maduro’s siren calls achieved the unthinkable: they transformed the country with the biggest oil reserves into the most violent one, with shortages of food and medicine, and the largest inflation in the world. There are good arguments which assert that the Bolivariana revolution is not a dictatorship, but neither is it a democracy. Countries with a democratic tradition should look into that mirror, during times when they flirt with the possibility of being governed by egomaniacs that use aggressive and exclusionary discourses.

Several of my stories and nonfiction articles address politics as an act of liberation from an asphyxiating reality. But not all. It is important to incorporate politics, so long as it contributes significantly to the work—and, furthermore, to the public discourse. But not all literature must be devoted to scrutinizing the issue, nor must every writer present him or herself as a devoted militant of a particular political cause.

For me, for example, I find it difficult, if not impossible, to write children’s literature in this context. At any rate, to continue writing in a country in which, when faced with the choice of buying a book or buying food, people will choose food, if it’s available and if they can afford it, is already in itself a political act.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

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Carlos Patiño Pereda is a Venezuelan writer and activist, and a member of the International Writing Program 2016. This article was originally published in Little Village issue 208.

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