The schism in the PEN is enlarged after the resignation of Mario Vargas Llosa, president emeritus of the writers' association, because of the tune expressed with the positions of the Catalan independence movement. Magali Tercero, president of PEN México, one of the 14 centers of the entity that signed the PEN International communiqué that asks to withdraw the charges against the imprisoned politicians Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, affirms that they never sent the text to her. In a message to the members of PEN Mexico, the president informs her that the center, through her, did not sign the declaration on Catalonia, since she did not receive it. He assures that he would not have signed without consulting the members, "because it is a very delicate matter."
This fact, according to other members of PEN, makes one doubt about the inclusion of the other centers and threatens the credibility of this organization in the defense of freedom of expression to have acted, they say, "with lightness and falsehood."
On the other hand, Jennifer Clement, director of the international PEN, who with the PEN Catalonia have organized a campaign that communicates with the theses of the Catalan independence movement and in which the declaration in favor of the prisoners is framed, he has sent the members of the organization a letter in which he explains the controversy and reaffirms his position.
Clement, who points out that he visited the two prisoners in Lledoners and was moved by "his integrity and his words of realism in the face of the trial they will face in the coming weeks," notes that both the communique and the visit "were very well received by the prisoners and their relatives, as well as by Catalan society, but they have generated controversy. " It emphasizes that the communique "is inscribed in continuity with the resolutions of our congresses and the position taking of our work committees". The controversy, he continues, arose because Vargas Llosa "has rejected our statement, has accused us of interfering unduly in the political debate in Catalonia and has renounced the International PENl "[[Here you can read the resignation letter]
Clement writes that Salil Tripathi, president of the Prison Writers Committee of the PEN, considers the communiqué in accordance with the PEN Constitutive Act because "it supports two writers / activists who have not defended the violence and who are imprisoned for expressing their views " The president of PEN International says that the Swedish PEN has expressed her interest in actively supporting the campaign in defense of the two prisoners.
This fact, according to other members of PEN, makes one doubt about the inclusion of the other centers and threatens the credibility of this organization
In statements to this newspaper, Clement, who says he has invited Vargas Llosa to return to the entity, has said that the controversy was not expected and stressed that the fact that the PEN defends freedom of expression does not mean that it is according to what the people he defends say. Asked if her opinion on the situation in Spain has changed after her visit to Barcelona and Catalonia (the first one she does), she affirms that she has been struck by peace and tranquility and that she has been moved by the flags and messages of solidarity hung on the balconies. On the disputable condition of writers of Cuixart and Sànchez, said that the first has written poetry and two books of articles, but that the PEN is not very strict in that and defends people who may have made a movie with your mobile or bloggers, and who defended General Gallardo in Mexico for a university thesis.
Given the serious situation caused in the PEN, the president of PEN International says that the whole history of the PEN is a story of crisis and internal debates. "They are very painful issues," he said, "but the PEN will survive, can resist it." And his presidency? "Also, of course."
For his part, the Angolan writer José Eduardo Agualusa, one of the signatories of the declaration in favor of the prisoners, has reaffirmed his position in statements to this newspaper. "My country lived many years in dictatorship, any voice that broke the silence was welcome, any small support from outside seemed important to us. Some prisoners were defending the independence of the enclave of Cabinda. For all this I can not help but be in solidarity with the Catalan prisoners who are, unquestionably, political prisoners, prisoners of conscience. I hope that the position of PEN will help to awaken consciences. "