The moment obliges. In the midst of an infinity of uncertainties, the situation in Venezuela and Nicaragua will be one of the issues that the Hay Festival of Cartagena de Indias, which starts this Thursday. But that will be just the most cyclical issue. In this edition, which brings together more than 150 authors, the omnipresent Venezuelan crisis will be accompanied by migrations, feminism and activism of all stripes. The appointment aims to imagine a world that is becoming more complex every day. And do it from a Caribbean port of a slave past, close to both Havana and those convulsed neighbors.
Among the large group of guests stand out two voices that have championed feminism and multiculturalism in the time of Me Too: Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the British Zadie Smith. Next to Romanian Mircea Cartarescu and the Cuban Leonardo Padura They are the stellar names of the most literary facet of a party that has been opening up to new themes to become a festival of ideas.
"This year what we bring very powerful are fabulous women", underlines Cristina Fuentes, international director of the festival that started in Wales in 1988. Based on the reflections of Gabriel García Márquez, the admired Colombian Nobel Prize winner Chimamanda will talk with the reporter and Mexican writer Alma Guillermoprieto about the closeness between journalistic and literary work in what is supposed to be the great event of this edition. The festival will also take the author of Americanah and the trial We should all be feminists to the popular Nelson Mandela neighborhood. There he will talk about his work with the journalist Mabel Lara before afrodescendant writers from different regions of the country. "It is very important that you come to Cartagena de Indias, which is really an Afro-Colombian city. That comes to speak so much to the walled city as to Nelson Mandela, "says Fuentes. "We want the conversation to be from south to south."
In this edition, EL PAÍS joins the Hay Festival of Cartagena. Padura, the Cuban master of the crime novel who The transparency of time returns to give life to the detective Mario Conde, his emblematic character now sexagenarian as the author, will talk on Friday with Javier Moreno, director of EL PAÍS América.
On that same day, Peruvian investigative journalist Gustavo Gorriti and Venezuelan Luz Mely Reyes, director of Efecto Cocuyo, will talk about the humanitarian crisis caused by the unprecedented Venezuelan exodus and the other waves of migration that are shaping the region. The discussion will be moderated by Jaime Abello Banfi, director of the Gabriel García Márquez Foundation for New Ibero-American Journalism (FNPI).
Nicaragua and Venezuela will be cross-cutting issues. The Venezuelan journalist and analyst Moisés Naím, now also a novelist, will be one of the most required voices to comment on the transition that looms in his country. The author of Two spies in Caracas, in addition to presenting his spy novel, will talk about the language of politics with Mark Thompson, the CEO of The New York Times. And the activist Bianca Jagger, who has dedicated her life to the defense of human rights, will give a lecture on the critical moment that the Central American country is going through due to the repression of Daniel Ortega's Government.
The Spanish Manuel Vilas, that last year published Ordesa, an autobiographical novel with the axis in the life and death of his parents, will talk about the role of the family in literature with the Colombian Hector Abad Faciolince, who dedicated The forgetting that we will be, the most celebrated of his books, to his father Héctor Abad Gómez, a human rights activist doctor killed by the paramilitaries. "They are books that are a song of love, but they also reflect a fundamental moment in the history of each country," says Fuentes.
In a country that has not just digested the peace agreement between the government and the FARC after 50 years of armed conflict, and is still choking on new or recycled violence, there will be several spaces to reflect on the implementation of that pact. The artist Doris Salcedo, who recently delivered Fragments, his work, constructed with the metal of the arms that the ex-guerrilla gave up, will converse with the editor Juan David Correa.
The resurgence of the history books and the battle for the story will be addressed by the historian Jorge Orlando Melo, the Jesuit priest Francisco de Roux, president of the Truth Commission, and journalists María Jimena Duzán, Patricia Lara, Daniel Samper Pizano, Antonio Caballero and Enrique Santos Calderón.
The economist and intellectual Alejandro Gaviria, who led the Ministry of Health while dealing with an aggressive cancer, will talk about that experience, reported in Today is always still. He will also discuss "How ideas enriched the world" with the distinguished American economist and historian Deirdre McCloskey. Mario Mendoza and Keco Olano will present the comic of Satan, Mendoza's classic novel inspired by the massacre of the Pozzeto restaurant in Bogotá. The list of Colombian writers is completed by Laura Restrepo, Juan Gabriel Vásquez and Pieta Bonett, among others.
The king of merengue, the Dominican Wilfrido Vargas, who has just presented his autobiography, heads the musical block, always present in Cartagena, which will also feature Joselo Rangel, from the Mexican band Café Tacvba; the Colombian singer Toto La Momposina and the Puerto Rican saxophonist David Sánchez. "Cartagena is a city that they have tried to destroy for more than four hundred years, and, I think, it is more alive than ever," Gabo said about the place where he began his journalistic career and is often remembered. The Hay annually endorses its maxim.