In times of #MeToo, nor the Nobel Prize for Literature Pablo Neruda has been saved from a historical review for his behavior with women, which with the current ethical codes could have led him to the bench for violator and abandonment of his duties as a father.
The controversy, recurrent, has resurfaced again in Chile with the recent approval in the culture committee of the Chilean Congress – it should still be analyzed by the plenary – of the proposal to rename the airport of Santiago with the name of the Chilean poet more universal and well-known womanizer.
In addition to his communist past in a country where Augusto Pinochet's military coup ended with the left government on September 11, 1973, critics remember a passage from his memoirs "I confess that I have lived" in which describes what resembles a rape of a Tamil girl, of the caste of the untouchables, in charge of cleaning his latrines when he was consul of Chile in Ceylon, the current Sri Lanka.
"One morning, determined to everything, I took her firmly by the wrist and looked her in the face, there was no language I could talk to her, she let herself be led by me without a smile and soon she was naked on my bed. ) The encounter was that of a man with a statue. He remained all the time with his eyes open, impassive. He did well to despise me. The experience was not repeated, "reads the poet's confession.
Beyond the quality of his poetry he began writing almost a century ago, what many people think, especially women, is if there is someone with a less controversial record to deserve the honor of having an airport in his name .
This is the case of the sociologist Claudia Dides. "Why put names of men in public spaces? vindicate women ", He says.
The deputy Pamela Jiles, who met the author of "Canto General" when she was a child, because her grandfather, Jorge Jiles, was the poet's lawyer and who helped him legally change his name Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes for Pablo Neruda's against that change.
"I am opposed to our airport bearing that name, because I believe that there are not the times to pay homage to a woman abuser who she abandoned her sick daughter and she confessed a rape, less as an image of the country, "he says in a statement.
"We have another Nobel prize with greater aesthetic merits than Neruda and without any of its serious defects, I would prefer it to be called 'Airport Professor Lucila Godoy Alcayaga'", better known as Gabriela Mistral, to replace the current name of Arturo Merino Benítez Airport, founder of the Chilean Air Force, added the deputy.
It is not the work, it is the behavior
"I do not think it is necessary to condemn Neruda's work, nor can you ignore his contribution to politics as a Communist militant, but I do believe that we must be clear in condemning his behavior with women and particularly his despicable attitude towards his sick daughter. the one that he ignored and abandoned. Neither the most perfect poem can compensate the evil towards a child ", concludes Jiles.
Neruda had only one daughter, Malva Marina, with the Dutch María Antonieta Hagenaar, Maruca, who suffered from hydrocephalus and died at a young age.
However, the writer and journalist Faride Zerán, author of "La guerrilla literaria" – in which she analyzes the diatribes of three monsters of Chilean literature, Pablo Neruda, Vicente Huidobro and Pablo de Rokha – does not agree with this controversy .
"Today is seen with a moral logic of the XXI century to a man of the XX.I do not seem fair," he says.
More current than ever
The validity of Neruda is not in question. From the Neruda Foundation, the executive director, Fernando Sáez, minimizes the controversy and assures that the poet "always had enemies", but his behavior with the women, of which he was always surrounded, does not prevent "signing contracts every day" from all over the world to reprint his work.
And its three museum houses, Isla Negra, on the Pacific coast, La Sebastiana, in Valparaíso, and La Chascona in Santiago, are among the main tourist attractions in Chile.
"The public that comes to the houses is the same and the enthusiasm and affection is the same," he says, for what he believes is "a ridiculous invented polemic."
The writer Adriana Valdés reminds us that if "irreproachable personal conduct was a requirement to read and admire writers or thinkers, we would have to do without people like Rimbaud, Céline, Sartre, Lope de Vega, Verlaine, and why Oscar Wilde, Baudelaire, Rousseau , Heidegger … "
The important thing is that "today you can look back and see how barbarous and cruel many macho practices that before, very recently, were part of common sense," he says.