Sunday, August 14

Iván Duque: “Art cannot be seen with a political prism” | Culture

This Friday, just after 8.30 in the morning, at Casa de América in Madrid, the day of the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, began. Interviewed for about an hour by Gabriela Cañas, president of the Efe news agency, Duque described the controversy caused by the selection of authors to represent his country at the Madrid Book Fair, which has Colombia as a “regrettable episode”. as a guest country in this edition. The president – who, as he explained, the day before sealed six binding agreements with Spain to protect investment, strengthen coordination in justice and security, and strengthen cultural and tourist ties – pointed out that the process of choosing the writers depended on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture, not the Presidency. “The process has been maturing for a long time and they have tried to privilege new authors,” he argued, before noting that they wanted to have writers “from deep Colombia, with women and representatives of ethnic minorities.”

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Duque’s trip to the Spanish capital was scheduled to coincide with the literary appointment in the Retiro park, but he has never seen the booths. The program was changing on the fly. Although his visit was originally announced this Friday afternoon, it has finally been canceled.

Regarding the “neutrality” of the writers to which the Colombian ambassador to Spain, Luis Guillermo Plata, alluded to in some statements, who quickly retracted, and which raised blisters in the literary world and caused the resignation of traveling by several authors, Duque insisted in his talk with Cañas that “art cannot be seen with the political prism.” “The ambassador gave an explanation that was misinterpreted. No artistic expression is neutral, the political positions of the artists are not privileged, they are respected. I have always defended all expressions ”, he emphasized, trying to respond to criticism.

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Barranquilla Carnival Parade held this Friday in Madrid as part of Colombia's activities at the Madrid Book Fair.
Barranquilla Carnival Parade held this Friday in Madrid as part of Colombia’s activities at the Madrid Book Fair.Fernando Alvarado / EFE

A few hours later, in the same Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid, where the Casa de América is located, the Barranquilla carnival troupe took the uphill lane of Calle de Alcalá, setting the rhythm with drums and maracas to the plaza. de la Independencia, from where you can access the Retiro park. Inside the precinct of the Book fair, the musicians and dancers animated the open pavilion at the start of the walk with cumbia and mapalé while awaiting the visit of President Duque. His arrival finally never occurred.

The Minister of Culture of Colombia, Angélica Mayolo, was satisfied with the assistance agreed with the Spanish Government for the craft school-workshop program aimed at training young people in danger of exclusion in 13 cities. It also highlighted the renewal of the 2014 agreement between the Instituto Caro y Cuervo and the Instituto Cervantes. Likewise, seven emblematic books were deposited in a Cervantes box in Madrid, among which were Bogota language critical remarks, Rufino José Cuervo’s 1877 title, or the book by Republican exile Pedro Urbano González de la Calle, who helped start the Institute in Colombia.

Three women dressed in black with sunglasses and a mask walked around the Retreat in the early afternoon with phrases of protest and denunciation – “SOS Colombia” or “tragic realism” – painted on their arms and cleavage, denouncing the police action during the protests in Colombia last spring. The president, in the morning, spoke of the measures that his government tries to undertake to reform the police and prevent abuses. Regarding the riots and protests in April, he wanted to distinguish between “peaceful protests and low intensity urban terrorism violence.”

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In the two booths in Colombia at the Madrid fair, the Manizales bookseller, Tomás David Rubio, continued to dispatch books. “We burst it,” he said, and commented that the Madrid public was looking for Pilar Quintana or Juan Gabriel Vásquez, but also for authors with a mythical aura such as Andrés Caicedo and his Long live music! o Fernando Molano Vargas, author of A kiss for Dick. Also to the recently deceased Antonio Caballero and Jaime Jaramillo Escobar. With the sun almost down and just 30 minutes before the fair closed, the carnival returned just before closing.

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