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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Poniatowska says her country needs more culture, less oil

File photo of Mexican author Elena Poniatowska

Mexican author and journalist Elena Poniatowska yesterday said that Mexico should offer more culture and less oil, in order to fight rampant illiteracy.

“What we can offer is not oil, it’s not about the riches of the earth, it’s rather our ancient culture in comparison to our US neighbours,” Poniatowska told reporters in Madrid. “It could be done through television, which only airs soap-operas, things that make imbeciles out of the poor people who watch them and who do not deserve such rubbish.”

Poniatowska, 81, arrived to Madrid where she will receive the coveted Cervantes Prize, the highest-ranking award for Spanish-language literature, from the hands of king Juan Carlos tomorrow. Poniatowska, who was a friend of late Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, referred to the ceremony held yesterday at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City.

“I believe García Márquez is himself a monument of fine arts in Mexico,” Poniatowska said in Madrid. “What he has done for Latin America is unique: he gave this continent the wings it lacked and made it fly before the eyes of the entire world.”

Famous author of works such as The Skin of the Sky, The Train Passes Through First, and The Night of Tlatelolco, Poniatowska is the fourth woman to receive the Cervantes Prize since its creation in 1976. The literary trophy carries a cash award of 125,000 euros (US$169,000).

Poniatowska also said she is proud to see her work as a journalist recognized, reminding the audience that, in the current situation of perpetual crisis of the traditional media, journalism can prevail by focusing on noble causes. “Journalists make their commitment to the great causes of this world, to the noblest of causes,” she said. “Journalism is, in general, a great lesson in humbleness. At least in Mexico, it is a lesson in modesty and humility,” and went on to emphasize that Mexico is “the most dangerous country in the world for journalists; it’s the country where most journalists have died.”

In a short mention to tomorrow’s acceptance speech, Poniatowska said that she had to rewrite it and hopes she stays true to herself in her words. “I will speak about everything related to Latin America and the people of Latin America, the people who go places walking, who don’t own a car and even those who still own donkeys,” the author said.

Herald with AP

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