Cuba, Colombia and the construction of a common history

Much has happened since Patricia Ariza first visited the Greater Antilles in the sixties. The playwright, poet, plastic artist and currently Minister of Culture of Colombia maintains historical, warm relations with Cuba, fierce by the love of art with a pronounced social and political vocation, as well as its proximity to a significant part of the Cuban intelligentsia, among whom he has many friends.

These days, but on the 31st. The Havana International Book Fair is developing an extensive art and literature program with Colombia as a guest of honor, Arisa could be found moving from one place to another when the public attends a meeting in Morro Cabaña or between conferences. literary presentations and exchanges with authors of different nationalities.

Almost at the end of his stay in the Cuban archipelago, JR goes to meet him in the pavilion of the country of honored guest. We talked in the midst of the comings and goings of readers and surrounded by a variety of literature from the country of Gabriel Garcia Márquez, which we can enjoy until February 19th.

“Being in Cuba has always been a very comforting experience for me and I am very proud to have Colombia as a guest of honor at this celebration,” says Arisa, who does not hide her satisfaction with the development of this literary festival, in which her country has launched a comprehensive program of events with writers and artists from other manifestations to showcase much of the Colombian cultural diversity.

The famous playwright, Dr. Honoris Causa of the University of the Arts of Cuba and founder, with her husband Santiago Garcia (1928-2020) of the Teatro La Candelaria and other theater projects, participated in this trip in several colloquia, which discussed the main aspects of the cultural worldview of this Latin American nation and its links with the Greater Antilles.

These colloquia, held in the early days of the 31st edition of FIL Cuba, from art as a tool for building peace and rebuilding the social fabric, equality seen in culture and education, and Gabriel García Márquez’s connections with Cuba, showed the goals of the government led by Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez and how cultural work is essential to their efforts to change towards full peace and conflict in Colombia.

“We have brought books that tell about our nation, and most of them will be donated to Cuban institutions such as the José Martí National Library. We also participate in the forums and debates that take place during the fair on issues that concern us, including those related to achieving full peace in Colombia and around the world, as well as the fight to end the climate crisis, reasons in which we can combine anything and everything,” he explains.

Works by authors such as Flor Romero de Nora, Maruja Vieira, Laura Restrepo, Silvia Galvis, Helena Araujo, Santiago Infante, Efrain Villanueva, Cesar Mackenzie, Gloria Cecilia Diaz, the complete works of Teatro La Candelaria, children’s literature, essays, texts by indigenous cultures peoples and, of course, part of Gabo’s literature, attend this Cuban meeting with the conviction that, as Arisa assures, “art creates truth that helps us understand life. It creates another truth and helps us interpret the world: it expands our sensitivity to understanding.”

— How does Colombia tell its truth through art today?

“This is one of the big tasks that we take on. Many years of war and violence have passed. Tell it for a long time. There was a Truth Commission to find out what happened during the armed conflict, but Colombia is not only that. My country is also resistance, art, knowledge. I am determined to help expand this narrative of the nation.

“We want those who have reported historically but have not been able to report on their own realities to report. It is vital that young people create their own stories; women and all groups affected by violence.

“The year before last there was a gigantic mobilization of youth, which left us many lessons. First, they entered the history of the nation from which they were expelled, and later they activated the forms of protest with very original, interesting, cultural proposals: the country was filled with graffiti, monuments, songs. We also learn from them to walk the path together.”

“In this cultural commitment, a book is needed…

“Writing a book is a very high human virtue. When people, without thinking, dare to do it for others and write it in a book, this is a great and wonderful event. There are also many ways to read, so it is very important to read writers of all expressions and backgrounds in order to understand the whole. At this moment, more than ever, we must read the reality of the world, the time in which we live.

How is your relationship with the book?

I read a lot of poetry. In particular, I have favorite authors whom I read with special love, such as Clarice Lispector, Sylvia Plath, Laura Restrepo.

“In the case of Cuba, from a literary point of view, it is also important in my life. This country has great writers and publications. Looking at the offers of the fair, there are publications that will never be found in Colombia because of their uniqueness, but also because of their versatility. I must admit that I bought a lot of books on this trip, especially tenth grade books that help me with some writing assignments that I really enjoy.

“Cuba is a very reading country, and this is admirable. Here people read and are well informed about international politics and other topics. If I could, I would recommend them to write more, maybe. Writing is very important, it is a liberating act, and today in Latin America we have an obligation to write history for the whole world to illuminate areas like Europe and the United States that are locked in their own history.

– Cuba and Colombia are building a common history from this fair …

-Certainly. We have signed a memorandum of understanding and we have just completed an official visit from Francia Marquez, our Vice President, which is a positive step along the way. We want to make an agreement with Cuba because it is important to maintain relations between the two countries.

“Under the previous government in Colombia, Cuba was very banned, stigmatized. We are trying to fix this and want the Ministry of Culture to make an intensive program to catch up.

Source: Juventud Rebelde


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