PEN Club of Puerto Rico Denounces Censorship

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Secretary of Education Carlos Chardón, whose decision to ban the five books by Puerto Rican and Latin American authors from the 11th grade Spanish class reading list was backed by Governor of Puerto Rico Luis Fortuño, said later that Carlos Fuentes’ Aura, José Luis González’s Antología personal, Edgardo Rodriguez Julia’s El entierro de Cortijo, and by José Luis Vega’s Reunión de espejos could be restored to the curriculum after a “revision” to determine whether the books are age-appropriate. Antonio Ramos’ Mejor te lo cuento, however, would not be restored. Education spokesman Alan Obrador explained that this book “can be a screenplay for a porn movie.” Meanwhile, Governor Fortuño denied that he supported censorship of books as a matter of public policy.

Mairym Cruz-Bernal, president of the PEN Club of Puerto Rico, released a statement denouncing this act and calling on the governor and Chardón to restore the books, saying that banning them from classes “threatens adequate and plural teaching of our youth, and hinders the access to the urgent realities that should be discussed in the classroom.” In declarations accompanying the statement, University of Puerto Rico literary scholar Luce Lopez- Baralt said that if Chardón’s criteria to pull the books were uniformly applied, then the most important works of Spanish literature, including EI Quijote by Miguel de Cervantes, would be censored for having language considered “lewd.” Alberto Martínez-Márquez pointed out that this type of censorship has been characteristic of other pro-statehood governments, citing that books by René Marqués and Juan Antonio Corretjer were censored during the governorship of Carlos Romero Barceló, and a novel by Olga Nolla was forbidden during Pedro Roselló’s term. In her declaration, Cruz-Bernal defined censorship and described its detrimental role through history.

The long list of writers and scholars who added their individual statements to the PEN Club document also includes Ana Lydia Vega, Elsa Tió, Mayra Santos Febres, Ana María Fuster, Aurea María Sotomayor, Marta Aponte Alsina, Rubén Ríos Ávila, and Mario R. Cancel, among others.

For full article by José Alvarado Vega (Daily Sun), see http://www.topix.com/world/puerto-rico/2009/09/fortu-o-backs-chard-n-decision-to-ban-books-puerto-rico-daily-sun-15-09-09

Photo of Mairym Cruz-Bernal from http://laberintodeltorogoz.blogspot.com/2008_02_01_archive.html

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