The ghost of Joseph McCarthy roams Paris. It glides over the chestnut trees of the Place Saint-Sulpice, the paintings by Delacroix kept in the church of the same name and the literary salons where the French Enlightenment was born. He has landed on the shoulders of the organizers of the literary festival "Poetry Market" (Marché de la Poésie), the largest meeting of poets, publishers and the public in France, protagonist of a scandal that would have made the senator and vice president of the Committee of Anti-Communist Activities proud.
Under political pressure from the most rancid right and with an umbilical cord in Miami, the Poetry Market, which began yesterday in the Place de Saint-Sulpice, withdrew the honorary presidency it had granted to the Cuban poet Nancy Morejón, Officier of the Order of Arts and French Letters since 2013. The pretext: his adherence to the Cuban Revolution. The real cause: an inquisitorial persecution against "the infiltrated reds", as in the 50s of the last century in the United States, when the McCarthyite spirit unleashed an authentic cornering of "communists", accusing without evidence, harassing relentlessly, publicly and politically disqualifying intellectuals, artists and writers.
The veto to Nancy (Havana, 1944) occurs in a context where persecution is increasingly frequent against Cuban creators who present their works abroad. It has just happened in Spain with the popular duo "Buena Fe", made up of singer-songwriters Israel Rojas and Yoel Martínez, who were harassed, mocked and segregated from the public presentations previously scheduled for the sin of living in Cuba.
The musician and poet Silvio Rodríguez, who has also suffered attempts to boycott his concerts and media lynchings, reacted on his personal blog: "Apparently the harassers of Buena Fe do not bother to listen to their songs. Could it be that it is not convenient for them to know the indocile questions that the duo throws into the air, theme after topic, HERE, on Cuban soil? Could it be that some make use of a respectable right to leave, but cannot stand those who stay to fight for a better country? Is it out of shame on themselves who call for invasions and blockades against their own people?"
In Madrid, tropical McCarthyism has had the support of Vox. In Paris, of the French branch of the Pen Club, in alliance with the so-called "Cuban Pen Club" of Miami. In fact, the news of the dispossession of Nancy Morejón was learned by Radio Martí, the U.S. government station for Cuba, before the formal note of the Poetry Market appeared. She reacted from Paris: "I'm sorry that hatred ended up imposing itself on art."
It is not just a tragedy that these things happen in a political context that encourages them; It is cowardice. Nancy Morejón, National Prize for Literature in Cuba and one of the first black women to graduate from the University of Havana, McCarthyism will not be able to take away what she has earned on her own merit: being one of the great poets of Latin America and an authority on literary studies in the Caribbean, a region folklorized and fragmented by colonial action.
In the prologue to Richard brought his flute and other poems, an anthology edited and prefaced by Mario Benedetti, the Uruguayan affirms that Nancy "is not only one of the most original poetic voices of Cuba after 1959, but, due to her important contribution in cultural organizations, she has become an unavoidable figure of current Cuban literature." Nicolás Guillén, the Cuban National Poet, who did not give gratuitous praise, wrote: "I think his poetry is black as his skin, when we take it in its intimate and sleepwalking essence. It is also Cuban (for that reason) with the root buried very deep until it leaves on the other side of the planet."
Nancy, who has said of herself that "I am not more black than a woman; I am not more a woman than Cuban, I am not more black than Cuban. I am a brief combustion of these factors", she has been attacked for having, in addition, a social conscience that exalts her. Now, because the spirit of Joseph McCarthy is loose with its strange amalgam of opportunism and anti-communism, of puritanism and xenophobia; with its congenital animosity towards everything that smells of culture. Shame on Place Saint-Sulpice.
(Originally published in La Jornada, Mexico)