“No part of the cultures of humanity can be erased or excluded and therefore the cancellation of Russian media in other countries is absurd,” said Venezuela’s Minister of Culture Ernesto Villegas in an exclusive interview with Sputnik, in response to a question asked about Sputnik and RT being banned in the West.
In the corridors of the International Book Fair of Venezuela (FILVEN) the minister highlighted that: “The cancellation of a political and cultural actor such as Russia from the international communication scene is, let us say, absurd. And we, who are always advocating for peace, believe that all voices must be heard, that all faces must be seen, and that no part of the culture or cultures of humanity should be erased or excluded. Rather, the strength of humanity is its diversity, not the amputation of a part of that cultural diversity, because that weakens us all.”
Villegas, who is a journalist by profession, added that 20 years ago Venezuela experienced a coup against Commander Hugo Chávez, which included what was known as “the information blackout.” He stated that: “The informative blackout meant that all media that was not aligned with the coup went off-air, particularly on television and radio. Chávez was completely silenced and there were instructions to allow zero Chavismo on the screen. They put private media information on billboards to prevent the dissemination of information that did not legitimize the coup d’état. This episode is a background to what we are seeing at the moment.”
Decolonization and cultural battle
Regarding the issue of decolonization, Villegas declared that the formal independence of nation-states did not mean the end of the colony. He said that: “Political independence was, let’s say, complete. From a cultural point of view, colonial traits remain in practically all of our society, which is why [decolonization] is a permanent task. And this fair is at the service of a critical and conscious reading of our culture and history. The neocolonial condition is often established and the forces of colonization are still alive. The forces of decolonization are necessary for the plenitude of the peoples.”
He added that culture is a field in which the battle often seems peaceful, but in fact there exists violence. He gave the example of how in visual arts, the works of Venezuelans of African origin are excluded, and so boys and girls of African descent grow up without seeing any representations of themselves, thus making them invisible.
The minister said that: “We have a part of our history that has not been told. And that is violence. It seems peaceful because the mechanisms are subtle, but it is not peaceful. It is very violent that, for example, curly hair is called bad hair in our country, as it attributes evil to a cultural, human, or anatomical trait. Those types of expressions that are apparently peaceful, contain a lot of violence. That is why the construction of peace in a culture of peace must go through the recognition of diversity. It must not go through the uncritical acquisition of the cultural model imposed by the hegemonic centers of power, particularly from the Hollywood cultural industry and all that entertainment industry.”
The minister emphasized that he was content to see that an invitation was issued by FILVEN to the African continent, to be their guests of honor, bringing them closer to Africa and to the cultural root of many Venezuelans.
“We have claimed our African roots, just as we are proud of the rest of the components of our cultural identity. We are proud of Africa’s contribution to our identity,” Villegas said.
The top official noted that the International Book Fair of Venezuela was a creation of Commander Hugo Chávez that quickly took root as the main artistic and cultural activity in the country.
Villegas said that “each year it is highly anticipated because it allows not only access to the editorial offerings, national-public, and private institutions, for foreign institutions and visitors, but it also allows for contact with the various manifestations of art. We have dancing, painting, music, and theater for anyone who feels summoned by books and reading. In addition, we have hosted this event in the spaces of the National Art Gallery here in Caracas, which offers true treasures of Venezuelan art.”
Villegas described the fair as a complete success, well attended, with numerous critically acclaimed presentations.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
orinocotribunehttps://orinocotribune.com/author/orinocotribune/January 24, 2023