Message from Leonel Brito / POLEMICA: The 2007 Intellectual Debate

I am writing to you at the wrong time perhaps, but better late than never, as the well-known adage says. The monastic life I have been leading in one of the programs of the Battle of Ideas has dramatically separated me from my usual contacts with the cultural world; hence the controversy unloosed around the disgraceful appearance of several of those responsible for cultural policy of the “black decade” and not the “Five-year Gray Period,” as Desiderio Navarro has shown lucidly in his “In medias res publica,” has come to me late.

I am young (barely in my twenties), and in part I’m responding to Arturo Arango’s just claim that it would be alarming if those of my generation didn’t participate in this outrage, even though we didn’t experience this atrocious and horrifying process, because, as Oscar Llanes says, the exclusion of our presence now would just reproduce, consciously or unconsciously (we don’t know), those repressive methods of silencing and marginalization, known in all its shapes and sizes. It’s time to talk, comment, discuss this issue, as forbidden as other issues were in those years.

Consider, for example, that those names (Luis Pavón, Jorge Serguera and others) are now heard by us for the first time. So I think, along with many young people who don’t want under any circumstances to suffer a second helping of pavonato (remember that second helpings are never good), that it hasn’t been pure coincidence that such a consecutive appearance of those sinister characters, directly or indirectly responsible for making lives and work so miserable for many intellectuals who championed pluralistic thought, as should happen in a truly democratic society that is responsive to its citizens.

Take into account, especially, the epic and apologetic television show with which they were presented. And not only was it a lack of the most basic ethics, and now I’m not talking about that humanist ethic that “pavonates” us before the world and ourselves, but it was also an aggression impervious to most of those who lived during that time, whether intellectual or not, (family, friends and people in general), who had to suffer forms of dogmatism, opportunism and the distortion of a certain ideology, manipulated to the limit, forms which are still new to many of us.

Publicly praising people who were involved in such barbarity leaves no room for the slightest doubt in today’s political and social context. It’s not only a symptom or a syndrome, in the words of one of the debaters, it’s without ghosts or pathological elaborations a very clear announcement of what might happen in an increasingly uncertain future, and that these, and new and worse, processes could repeat themselves. So it seems to me fair and irrevocably necessary, this protest you started. You can count on the support of the youngest, of those who begin their walk down a path that can be abruptly cut off, and we are not willing to submit, not for our parents, nor for ourselves.

Leonel Brito

Translated by Regina Anavy

January 2007