ALBA Culture Ministers meet in Santa Cruz; a newly-installed mural by late artist Manuel Rendón Seminario unveiled in Guayaquil.
Ministers of culture from the member states of ALBA (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América—The Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas) are meeting in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to evaluate the progress of ALBA’s cultural projects, the Gran Nacional Alba-Cultural and the Empresa Gran Nacional Fondo Cultural de Alba. The 18th forum of ALBA member states’ ministers of culture kicked off by issuing the ‘Declaración de Santa Cruz’, which lays out ALBA’s vision of anti-imperial cultural expression and by condemning the assassination of Facundo Cabral in Guatemala earlier this month.
In attendance were ministers of culture and cultural representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Bolivia. (Nicaragua and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are also member states). Those representatives in attendance affirmed their belief that de-colonization, anti-parochialism and interculturality are fundamental cultural values of ALBA states. The Santa Cruz Declaration also states that ‘cultural expression and art should be accessible to all peoples as cultural rights,…through spaces and actions that include a majority of people’.
The summit began with an Andean ritual to ask for a successful meeting. Bolivian vice-president Álvaro García Linera addressed the forum, say that ‘culture represents a subversive language…for subaltern communities, and this, I believe, is one of the first things we have learned in this new century, and furthermore it is something common to our entire continent’.
The purpose of the meeting is to exhort ALBA member states to make cultural recognition a cornerstone of national politics, and to foster future bilateral meetings between ALBA nations on culture issues, such as the origins of folkloric practices. In addition, the cultural wing of ALBA plans to campaign for the inclusion of the Qhapaq Ñan (Inca Trail) as part of the UN World Heritage List.
On 27 July, Ecuador unveils a previously lost mural by artist Manuel Rendón Seminario, installed on the exterior of the Centro Cultural Simón Bolívar (Simón Bolívar Cultural Centre) in Guayaquil. The mural, about 20.4 metres long by 2.7 metres high, is made up of thousands of pieces of glass that Rendón completed in Mexico in 1980, after having been commissioned for a mural by the Banco Central in Guayaquil seven years earlier.
After Rendón’s death in 1982, the pieces were forgotten in cardboard boxes in his studio until they were discovered in 1994 by another muralist and friend of Rendón, Jorge Swett, charged at the time with restoring some of the artist’s extant murals. Since the, Swett and his son Carlos Swett have laboured to restore Rendón’s work and to seek funding and support for its installation, which they received from the Ministry of Culture in 2010.
Manuel Rendón (1894-1982) is considered a leading light of Latin American Constructivism, a contemporary and equal of famed Uruguayan artist Joaquín Torres García.
Lima’s Feria Internacional del Libro (FIL-Lima 2011—Lima’s International Book Festival) began on Wednesday, 20 July and continues through 2 August. The 16th annual festival brings together 150.000 titles from 23 countries, presentations from a number of authors, and hundreds of conferences, lectures, and activities.
This year’s festival places a special emphasis on Venezuelan literary production, with presentations by writers Gustavo Pereira and Roberto Hernández Montoya. Argentine president Cristina Kirchner will attend, as will Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa to promote his book De Banana Republic a la No República on 27 July.
90s metal band Limp Bizkit started their tour of South America in Santiago, Chile, where they sampled pisco sours. The band gave their first concert in Chile on 21 July and will continue on to tour Peru, Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.
Despite divorce, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony are continuing plans for production of their Latin American talent search show ‘¡Q’Viva! The Chosen’.
A review of Esmeralda Santiago’s ‘Conquistadora’, a novel of a 19th century Puerto Rican plantation mistress.
‘Wild Coast: Travels on South America’s Untamed Edge’, by John Gimlette. A narration of the author’s journeys through Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana in 2008.
‘At the Devil’s Table’, William C. Rempel’s account of Jorge Salcedo and the take-down of the Cali Cartel.
Listen to a track from ‘Sounds like Cocoon Fever’, Mexican band White Ninja’s sophomore album.