Cultural Massacre

Día siete puntocom,
10 August 2009, Mexico

I still keep my INBA ( credential. In the picture I am seven years old and I smile out of pride. The Lake’s House of Fine Arts gave free painting lessons for girls and boys. We were a middle class family of three girls and three boys and the only way to accede to these incredible painting, ballet or music masters was through the government’s cultural promotion programs. The arts helped me, as well other millions of children and young to reach my sensibility and taught me to see the world and people in a different way. Poetry lessons in Mixcoac Culture’s House taught Carlos, a street fire-eater’s son, and me, to shelter pain and its miracles with poetry. A few days ago, while walking through the streets of a poor neighbourhood in Cancun, in broad daylight, a group of children were painting graffiti on huge walls, some of which referred to taking care of the environment. A cultural program offered them the arts’ furious rebellion. To say that access to culture allows children and young to develop a sense of belonging and community is not a supposition, but a categorical affirmation.

When Felipe Calderón was smiling during his campaign, without imagining that he would be the president of war, he insisted on culture and education as his tools to change Mexico. Education ended up in the hands of Elba Ester Gordillo, the mother of syndical corruption. Consuelo Sáizar appointment as Conaculta’s Director was celebrated by an important sector of Mexico’s intellectual and artistic milieu. The appointment of different area’s directors triggered hope for our country.  However, the budget cut has slammed the door on culture and on those that promote it.

A few days ago, the great soloist María Teresa Frenk, Director of the National Coordination for Music and Opera, resigned because she was asked to cut salaries a 50% and to cancel all artistic presentations. Various museums are facing the possibility of closing down because of this cut. Right at the moment when millions of people make long lines to visit museums that have been promoted by the Tourism Secretariat, exhibitions are cancelled.

It is easy to say, during campaign periods, that culture and education are a priority; an economic crisis is necessary for a political regime to show its real nature and dilute the logic that sets its priorities. On the one hand, the Federal Government states that to prevent addictions, it is necessary for the young to approach culture and education, and on the other hand shuts access to them. In such a difficult moment for our society, when we are facing an economic crisis and the violence of an all-out war, social instruments that help social inclusion and transformation are mutilated. We cannot be impassive when facing this cultural massacre.