Messages from Jorge de Mello / POLEMICA: The 2007 Intellectual Debate

The worthwhile exchange of ideas, so necessary to form a true state of opinion that finds solutions which are reasonable, satisfactory and intelligent–has finished. Today I received, after the meetings, this mysterious email in which one of the participating intellectuals in the debate (his name for now is XXXX) and everything seems to remain in a war between the ICRT and Mincult [Ministry of Culture], it is said that that is the tactical thing. Will we return to the anonymous message, to the rumor in the hallway, to the “politically correct”? Incredible!! That is the tactical thing?


I believe that you are not mistaken in some of the things you say, but it seems to me that the matter is a little more complicated. And at this moment, I believe that the tactical thing is not to absolutely push against the Ministry of Culture which, after all, also has been attacked by the TV and those who are behind the appearance of Pavón and company.

From Jorge de Mello in response to Orlando Hernández


I have received, literally with exclamations of joy, your letter to Arturo Arango. You have placed your finger in the trigger and your eye is on the real target. That’s the way to talk, brother, that’s it. Today I have been writing a similar thought, in terms of content and points of view, answering a letter to Abelardo Mena, but of course never with the conceptual clarity and formal quality that you do. That’s why I won’t send Mena my letter. I will send yours adding myself to the opinion.

I congratulate you with all my heart, that is the real Orlando I have known for almost 30 years, the brave and illustrious brother with whom I have shared so many ideas, sufferings, and joys. I also congratulate you because you have woken from a certain state of inertia that has been affecting you recently.

We all need ideas as clear as yours, especially during these times, and they will be necessary in the times to come.

A grateful hug

Jorge de Mello

P.S.: After writing to you the previous note, I decided to also send to you my reply to Mena that I have mentioned.

Abelardo, I agree with you, suspected that something like that would happen, told you so a couple of days ago, it all seems like more of the same. In so many opinions and reflections, from here and there, not once has the essential word, “Liberty,” been mentioned. What kind of society are we that we fear saying that word? What has happened to us?

The brief and considered reflection of Cesar Lopez, in which he recommends that we remain alert, ends with these words: “I am honorable, and afraid.” I admire the sincerity of the poet. In the opinions of the other prestigious and courageous intellectuals there is also fear, but we have to discover it amongst the rhetorical twists and turns, in the way that they avoid putting their finger in the wound. One would have to ask, why so much fear?

We are all afraid because we know that the immense bureaucratic machine that permitted the “pavonato,” and that is now trying to redeem it, is stronger every day.

It now shows off, after the so-called “centralization,” more power than ever — political/economic power that is unproductive, obtuse and harmful, which paralyzes the soul of the nation.

I believe that this should be the issue for analysis —  but in an open and truly revolutionary discussion that is not directed by those same powerful individuals who dominate the bureaucratic apparatus and its indescribably repressive mechanisms — so that an exchange can take place without restrictions, without censures, and include all the “thinking heads” of the country.

There are many revolutionaries and patriots who think with their own heads amongst educators, scientists, workers, students. What is happening is not a problem to be discussed just within the artistic domain.

I sincerely believe that this halting path (of tacit concessions and opportune tactics) that we have seen up to now in this little e-mail war, is not enough to light the way to our immediate future — which up to now I foresee as very dark, given that the bureaucrats continue to call the shots. All indications are that the protest will end, as you well state, in an administrative purge of some television official, in a new “explanation” and a call back to sanity to the intellectuals who wrote the letters. It appears that once more we’ll be left with no view of a possible solution to our old problems. Besides fear, I admit, I also feel shame.

As you well know, I am only a cultural laborer (and proud to be so), I am not a recognized or important artist or intellectual, which is why I’ve silently and hopefully read, without making pronouncements, all that I have received via e-mail.

I have read various opinions stating that those who do not have important work can use this moment in an opportune way to stand out, and things of this nature.

But because I have a brain for thinking, I make my own observations and want to share them with you in a very personal way. My observation might be more or less correct, but these ideas are what are going through my head and my heart at this moment.

Changing the subject. Where do you live now? Are you following the Virgin’s shadow, or are you my neighbor again? It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other.


Jorge de Mello

From Jorge de Mello to Orlando Hernández


The fact that the program director who provoked this just protest was praised on another TV program, in the moment that all were expecting an apology, a correction, is a hard and overwhelming blow.

Padura considers that act a coincidence, Desiderio a provocation, to me it is nothing more than a show of force, of power, made with the objective of demonstrating that the powerful will not give in even an inch, as has always been the case. When has one of the “leaders” of the country apologized publicly?

Never has something like this occurred, and mistakes have been made, small and big, many of them with dire and painful consequences for the nation.

Hopefully this last demonstration of strength and arrogance won’t reach its objectives, causing the fear and deception necessary to paralyze the discussion and the state of opinion, so interesting and necessary for our society, which was being created.

How I wish I were wrong…

Last night I received this answer from Mena to a comment I made, don’t circulate it, but it’s interesting, I believe things are going as he says. How sad, what a deception!



Translated by: Dolores M. Goizueta / Translated by:  Alicia Barraqué Ellison