News that the right-wing coalition partner of the Morena party will preside over a congressional culture committee has sparked an angry reaction from the nation’s artistic community.
The Chamber of Deputies yesterday approved accords that will see the conservative Social Encounter Party (PES) in charge of two committees, one that is responsible for culture and cinematography and the other for health.
Leading the barrage of criticism was playwright, director and journalist Sabina Berman, who blamed the move on the Andrés Manuel López Obrador-led Morena party, which leads a coalition with a majority in both houses of Congress.
“The PES, an ultra-conservative, anti-diversity, anti-women, anti-freedom party will preside over the committees of health, culture and cinematography. Oh, Morena, what a mistake and what ingratitude: artists drew you more votes than the PES,” she wrote on Twitter.
“It’s an insult to culture from Morena, it’s a slap in the face to Mexican culture, it’s unacceptable,” she added in an interview.
“It reflects a complete lack of awareness of what culture is, it’s contempt, it’s a great disappointment . . . That the PES [will lead the culture committee] is a sign that the coalition dominated by Morena saw this committee as an accessory, a bargaining chip and without any importance for its political strategy . . . Opposition will be key.”
Playwright Flavio González Mello added his voice to the criticism, charging that the so-called fourth transformation — a term used by López Obrador to emphasize the change he says he will bring to Mexico — will not extend to artistic pursuits.
“. . . Culture and cinema will continue to be the crumbs of the feast,” he said.
Actress Lilia Aragón expressed her opposition to the move in a short and sharp Facebook post: “PES? WHY?”
Others to voice their outrage and disappointment at the move included renowned art curator Cuauhtémoc Medina, editor Deborah Holtz, writer David Miklos, filmmaker Víctor Ugalde and cultural director Alejandra Frausto.
The decision to include the PES in the coalition led by the leftist Morena party was widely questioned before the July 1 elections.
The Social Encounter Party, known for its anti-abortion stance and opposition to gay rights, only contributed 2.7% to López Obrador’s overall tally of 53% of the popular vote and earlier this month its registration was annulled because it failed to attract 3% of the vote.
However, largely due to proportional representation allocations, the PES currently has 64 lawmakers in the federal Congress, 56 in the lower house and eight in the Senate.