Oaxaca is now officially the second City of Refuge in Mexico. The agreement with ICORN was signed on 21 January at the Institute for Graphic Arts in Oaxaca (el Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca (IAGO)) with more than 100 guests present. Among them were ICORN executive director Helge Lunde and Mohsen Emadi, Iranian guest writer in Mexico City, who performed a poem. Lunde highlighted the necessity of protecting freedom of speech in today’s world. Says Lunde to 20 Minutos, “In ICORN, we believe that every City of Refuge can make an enormous difference in protecting persecuted writers and guarantee, not only their right to spread their ideas, but their right to life”. The Human Rights commissioner of the Oaxacan government, Eréndira Cruzvillegas Fuentes, stated that freedom of expression is a fundamental theme in any democracy, and elaborated that every country considering itself democratic must also protect anyone exercising their freedom of expression through writing.
The establishment of Oaxaca as a City of Refuge was initiated by el Fondo Ventura through the Oaxaca International Book Fair (FILO), the Alfredo Harp Helú Foundation (FAHHO), the National Council for Culture and Art (CONACULTA), the Secretary of Culture and Art in Oaxaca (SECULTA) and the San Agustín Art Centre (CaSa). The realization of Casa Refugio Oaxaca is thus a collaboration between the state and federal government, public and private organizations. When Oaxaca has chosen the writer they will invite, the FAHHO will provide the plane tickets, whereas the SECULTA, in collaboration with CONACULTA, will cover the costs of language lessons, medical insurances and entertainment. The San Agustín Centre for Art (CaSa) provides the writer’s housing and FILO is orchestrating the collaboration and coordinating it all with ICORN.
The idea of Oaxaca joining ICORN was conceived three years ago, says president of the Oaxaca International Book Fair (FILO), Guillermo Quijas Corzo, and the process was invaluably supported by Mexican sculptor and artist Francisco Toledo. Francisco Toledo is the founder of the San Agustín Centre for Art (CaSa), and was present at the signing of the agreement between Oaxaca and ICORN. Mr. Toledo and Mr. Quijas feel confident that Oaxaca and her inhabitants will provide a true home for persecuted writers. SECULTA’s representative, Francisco Martínez Neri, pointed to Mexico’s long history of granting political asylum to whomever might be in need. “The opening of this house puts Oaxaca at the fore-front in the defense of freedom of expression and human rights, making it an example which we hope other Mexican cities will follow”, said Neri.
The Oaxacan Casa Refugio will constitute the third ICORN refuge in Mexico (Mexico City boasts two Casa Refugios). Oaxaca joins ICORN as its 50th member city.
Casa Refugio Citlaltépetl anniversary
The day after the opening of Casa Refugio Oaxaca, the 15 year’s anniversary of Casa Refugio Citlaltépetl was celebrated in Mexico City. More than 150 writers, artists, politicians and other guests from all over Mexico City took part in the event, among them also Sophie Boule representing the City of Paris, and ICORN director Helge Lunde.
Casa Refugio Citlaltépetl has been a member of ICORN since the foundation of the network. Philippe Ollé Laprune, director of Casa Refugio Citlaltépetl, has been a central figure in ICORN, serving as board member until 2012. Casa Refugio Citlaltépetl has received 11 writers during these 15 years, establishing itself as a creative hub in Mexico City with poets, novelists and lecturers from all over the world holding workshops at its venues. The physical protection offered by Casa Refugio Citlaltépetl, combined with the provision of tools to entering the cultural life of Mexico, lets residents of the house continue their work when in exile, often resulting in a rich literary production. Hence, Casa Refugio Citlaltépetl serves as something of a model for the new Casa Refugio in Oaxaca and more Cities of Refuge to come in Latin America.
Oaxaca abre sus brazos a los escritores refugiados del mundo (PrimeraHora.com.mx)
Francisco Toledo se siente liberado; firman convenio (Vanguardia)
Ya es Oaxaca refugio literario (La Razón)
CaSa, hogar de escritores refugiados (noticiasnet.mx)
Celebran a una quinceañera resistente (La Razón)
ANNIVERSAIRE – La Casa Refugio Citlaltépetl célèbre ses 15 ans de « Resistencia » (Le Petit Journal)