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The Regime Tries to Hijack the Granada Poetry Festival

The only poetry that fits is that of protest; freedom is a precious belonging that we can’t sacrifice on altars raised to idols with feet of clay

Gioconda Belli

24 de enero 2020

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This morning I found out that Rosario Murillo has announced a Festival of the Arts with which she plans to replace the Granada International Poetry Festival that the Board decided in December 2019 to cancel.

There was a moment of optimism, in which we thought that we could hold a small version in enclosed spaces.  Later, however, the increase in indiscriminate repression, the jailhouse atmosphere we live in, the rejection of the idea that many expressed, and – above all – the notion that it was impossible to create a space of freedom where freedom doesn’t exist, led us to cancel it for a second year and once again call for a virtual poetry festival.


As a poet, I oppose and protest this move on the part of the regime to fabricate – with their proverbial opportunism – a substitute for the festival. They’re aiming to replace it with one invoked to unfurl their propaganda messages and use artists close to the regime, or those who agree to participate out of confusion, in order to continue cultivating the idea that everything is normal in Nicaragua.  They also want to deceive the population, offering them spectacles destined to deify and celebrate themselves.

True poetry can’t celebrate anything in this country. True poetry can’t forget that we’re in mourning for countless deaths of those who protested and those who are still being killed with impunity in the mountains and countryside by the invisible hands of the paramilitary. True poetry can’t celebrate anything in a country where we of the majority are condemned to bear up under nameless abuses: abductions, more than 65 people unjustly imprisoned; disproportionally high taxes; a manipulated justice system; and a dictatorial regime’s concentration of power.

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True poetry can’t accept the harassment, the besiegement, the presence of police on every corner where there’s an attempt to express dissent. It can’t live under a blood-stained sky, where the population is blocked from going out on the streets, where media outlets have been closed and journalists are the object of outrages, mistreatment and theft of their equipment.

True poetry isn’t indifferent to the women murdered daily in a state that proclaims itself internationally a constructor of equality, but where there are rampant crimes and rapes with no one there to defend women’s dignity or their physical integrity. Poetry aches for those who have lost their jobs; or for those who, in order to keep them, find themselves forced to feign a support they don’t feel for the regime.

The only poetry that fits in this regime is that of protest, that which recalls that liberty is a precious belonging the we can’t sacrifice on altars raised to idols with feet of clay.

As a poet, I feel that this attempt by the regime to falsify and offer the people noise and fiesta, is an affront to our years of work to hold a festival worthy of this country.  They do this ignoring the fact that from April 2018 onwards, when they took off their mask and demonstrated how much cruelty they were capable of, there’s been no other poetry in Nicaragua than the struggle to restore freedom.

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Gioconda Belli

Gioconda Belli

Poeta y novelista nicaragüense. Ha publicado quince libros de poemas, ocho novelas, dos libros de ensayos, una memoria, y cuatro cuentos para niños. Su primera novela “La mujer habitada” (1988) ha sido traducida a más de catorce idiomas. Ganadora del Premio La Otra Orilla, 2010; Biblioteca Breve, de Seix Barral (España, 2008); Premio Casa de las Américas, en Cuba; Premio Internacional de Poesía Generación del ‘27, en España y Premio Anna Seghers de la Academia de Artes, de Alemania; Premio de Bellas Artes de Francia, 2014. En 2023 obtuvo el premio Reina Sofía de Poesía Iberoamericana, el más prestigioso para la poesía en español. Por sus posiciones críticas al Gobierno de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo, fue despatriada y confiscada. Está exiliada en Madrid.

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