June 22, 2004

Other perverse forms of political cronyism

In another perverse twist of the chavista cultural policy machine, the National Literature Prize was 're-assigned' to Carlos Noguera after the original winner for this year declined it over the intended 'hijacking' of the prize-winner's political allegiances by the CONAC "intelligentsia".

The original winner, José León Tapia, declined the prize and its money award after he was asked to sign a "National Literature Prize Acceptance Affidavit". He made some observations to the conditions and rules regarding the awarding of the prize on a letter, dated March 11th, to now-Minister-of-Culture and PPT party member Architect Francisco "Farruco" Sesto. Tapia sort of refused to attend the ceremony because of medical reasons and because he seemed to suspect a political intention behind the awarding of the prize.

Sesto, then Miguel Márquez, were commissioned to award the prize in situ, in Barinas, the home of Tapia. Eventually Tapia declined the prize altogether citing ?personal and conscience motives? on a letter dated April 14th.

The newly appointed prize winner, Carlos Noguera, heads the Monte Avila Editores Latinoamericana publishing house, our state owned editorial house, which had a long history of political independence since it was founded in the seventies. Noguera is, to put it bluntly, not very independent from the chavista cultural machine. Under his watch, Monte Avila workers have been harassed over 'ideological' issues.

Anyway, it seems rather sad and pathetic to be awarded a prize under those circumstances. If Tapia did not want the prize, if he declined it, it should have remained like that. Award it next year. But this seems odd behavior, to say the least.