Cuban Writer Nancy Morejon Withdraws as Honorary President of the Poetry Festival in Paris

Morejón is aligned with “the prevailing dictatorial regime in Cuba,” and is part of its “cultural authorities” at Uneac, Machover said. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 30 May 2023 — The denunciation of numerous intellectuals against Nancy Morejón — headed by the Cuban Jacobo Machover — has achieved its objective: the organizers of the Paris Poetry Market, a prestigious literary event held annually since 1983 in the French capital, will withdraw the official writer’s status as honorary president, although she will continue to be invited to the festival.

The official press has already alluded to the situation, accusing “reactionary sectors of the Cuban emigration” of calling for a  “cultural war” against Morejón. Without offering details, they insist that “the organizers rejected the attacks against the academic.”

This Tuesday, Machover released a letter sent by Yves Boudier and Vincent Gimeno-Pons, general delegates of the c/i/r/c/é association, which organizes the Poetry Market, to Antoine Spire, president of the Pen Club of France, one of the organizations that supported the protest against Morejón.

In addition to notifying their intention to “renounce” offering the poet the honor of presiding over the festival, the organizers apologized for “not having delved” into her biography and announced that there is an “official statement” in preparation. As of now, the article indicating the presidency of Morejón is not available on the festival’s website.

According to Radio Habana Cuba, Morejón will be in France and Spain from June 1 to 13, presenting various titles. As for the Poetry Market, it has been announced that the writer will participate in a recital at the headquarters of the Instituto Cervantes in Paris, on the 9th, but any mention of the honorary presidency has been omitted.

This Tuesday, Machover thanked those who joined his protest. Morejón, Spire wrote on behalf of the Pen Club of France to the directors of the event, “stigmatizes many of those who have taken sides against the Cuban government in the name of freedom of expression,” noting the existence of multiple artists and writers censored by Morejón, also director of the official magazine Unión. Lastly, he urged organizers to investigate Morejón’s life and her record of supporting the regime.

On May 25, Machover criticized the Poetry Market’s naming of Morejón and described as “delusional” that this honor was granted to a writer who supports an authoritarian regime like the Cuban one.

“I demand that this error be corrected and that the honorary title that has been improperly attributed to the poet Nancy Morejón be withdrawn. This act would contribute to the freedom of Cuba and, of course, that of its poetry and literature, which constitute the common heritage of all writers and poets throughout the world,” he said. In the days that followed, dozens of writers, artists, activists, and journalists joined the demand.

In his open letter to the organizers, Machover pointed out that Morejón is aligned with “the prevailing dictatorial regime in Cuba” and is part of its “cultural authorities” in the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Uneac). Precisely as part of that institution, Morejón has been a signatory on several documents of adherence to the regime, the most recent of which, noted Machover, is the Message from Cuban educators, journalists, writers, artists and scientists to their colleagues in other countries, signed in October 2022, and in which the poet’s signature appears in sixth place.

In that text, she expressed her full support for the Government, in addition to alleging the non-existence of repression by the authorities, a situation described as “distortion of our reality.”

Another of the letters that the poet signed twenty years ago, Machover affirmed, was the one that justified the arrest and sentencing of 75 dissidents, several of them writers, during the Black Spring of 2003. Among them was the poet Raúl Rivero, whom Machover has translated and published in French. In addition, that document destined for the “peoples of the world” validated the execution of three young people who had tried to escape from Cuba by hijacking the “little boat” from the Havana town of Regla.

One day after the protests of July 11, 2021, the Ministry of Culture made several intellectuals appear on Cuban Television to insult the protesters. Morejón then said: “These events of yesterday, unacceptable, condemnable in every sense, are part of an old pandemic as terrible as this one that plagues us (covid-19): that of the empire.”

To be held from June 7 to 12 in the Saint-Sulpice square in the French capital, the Poetry Market had planned an opening ceremony by Morejón, as well as various panels and conferences with her participation. As of now, Uneac has not made any announcement of its decision regarding the festival.


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