Sergio Ramírez: Of All Themes, Power is My Great Fascination

The novelist in exile affirms that “writing is a refuge. I would be more miserable living outside of Nicaragua if I weren’t a writer.”

The Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramírez, during his participation in the III Literary Festival of America and Europe, in Malaga, Spain. Photo: EFE/Carlos Díaz

12 de febrero 2024


Nicaraguan author Sergio Ramírez, winner of the prestigious Cervantes Prize in 2017, said that the big themes in literature are love, madness, death, and power, and he is interested in all of them, but power is his “great fascination.”

“In literature, the fundamental themes are few but essential: love, madness, and death, and there’s one other very important one in Latin America, which is power,” said Ramírez, who participated this Friday in the city of Malaga (southern Spain) in the third literary festival of America and Europe ‘Escribidores’.

“I’m interested in all themes, but power is my great fascination, how it is carried out for those who have it and those who don’t, and the innocent victims of excessive and arbitrary power,” he added.

Furthermore, “people suffer separations, imprisonment, or death, their lives change, and that subjugation of lives to power is fascinating,” says Ramírez, who has been living in exile since 2021 due to political persecution by the Nicaraguan government of Daniel Ortega. He now holds Spanish nationality.

Throughout his life, he has alternated literary activity with politics and even became vice president of his country from 1985 to 1990, with Daniel Ortega as president, but he assured that, even in that stage, “one never stops being a writer.”

He noted that if someone had offered him a position as vice president, deputy, minister, or presidential candidate, he would have “never” been interested in leaving writing and entering ordinary politics.

The Political Life of Sergio Ramírez

“I entered through the door of a revolution that proposed a radical change in the country, sweeping away a bloody dictatorship of half a century and doing something completely new,” he emphasizes, in reference to the Sandinista revolution, which overthrew the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in 1978.

Ramírez said politics “is a completely contradictory profession” with literature and “the first contradiction is that a politician is a public relations agent for the regime [or party] to which he belongs, and the novel is the opposite, the most absolute critical space of freedom.

“If you are exercising power, you are disqualified as a novelist,” emphasized Ramírez, who nevertheless assured that in those years he never stopped “seeing the world as a writer,” although he feared that, if he continued without writing, he would cease to be one, and that was his “terror.”

That’s why he returned to writing in 1985, having the “certainty” that he “had to return to writing, to the field where he should have always been.”

“The challenge to democracy today comes from organized crime”

Regarding the current situation of politics in Latin America, Ramirez believes that there are “elements that were not predictable”. He notes there have always been “traditional parties, emerging forces, electoral fraud, and military coups,” but “in the 21st century there’s a new element, which is the political power of organized crime and that was not foreseen.”

“The challenge to democracy comes from organized crime, which is a political-military-economic enterprise with highly trained people who launder money in financial entities and who have graduated from Yale or Harvard,” he concluded.

Sergio Ramírez has suffered exile from his country and also had his nationality taken away, something he considered “very serious.”

“Writing is a refuge, a field of security that you have. I would be more miserable living outside of Nicaragua if I wasn’t a writer,” he asserted.

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times. To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.


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Agencia EFE

Agencia de noticias internacional con sede en Madrid, España. Fundada en Burgos durante la guerra civil española en enero de 1939.