A total of 116 artists and intellectuals in the Dominican Republic have signed a document requesting that the Premio Nacional de Novela (National Novel Prize) awarded to Aida Trujillo, granddaughter of former dictator Rafael Trujillo, be revoked. (See our earlier post Controversial Literary Award to Rafael Trujillo’s Granddaughter.) “We urge the members of the jury to return to their deliberations and revoke their decision. We are convinced that if they had lived under such a disgraceful regime as that of Trujillo they would not have awarded the prize to a book that pretends to celebrate Rafael L. Trujillo and his son Ramfis, despite the terror and the bloodshed at the expense of the dignity and freedom of the Dominican people,” the document declares.
The novel, A la sombra de mi abuelo (In the Shadow of My Grandfather), last month won the Manuel de Jesús Galván Novel Prize, one of the awards given every year by the Dominican Ministry of Culture. It was chosen as the winner from among 13 submissions by a jury made up of Jorge Volpi (Mexico), Manlio Argueta (El Salvador) and Roberto Marcallé Abreu (Dominican Republic). The announcement was greeted with disbelief and anger, with Cuture Minister José Rafael Lantigua remarking that “it offends the memory of those who died” in the anti-Trujillo struggle. The new protest document, published in the Dominican newspaper El Listín Diario, calls the award “an embarrassing event that wounds deeply the Dominican people’s historic consciousness” and “contradicts ethical and moral principles.” To those sho have signed the document, the novel presents “the dictator as a celestial envoy filled with tenderness, most definitely a good man, respectful, disciplined and wise, a description that contrasts with the terrible reality” of his government, whose legacy is “thousands of persecutions, tortures, disappearances and murders.” Among those singing the document were writers like Marcio Veloz Magiolo, Avelino Stanley, José Alcántara Almánzar and Soledad Alvarez; historians like Franklin Franco and Bernardo Vega; and politicians like former vicepresident Milagros Ortiz Bosch, Virgilio Bello Rosa and Tirso Mejía Ricart.