Art and culture are the expression of a people, the space that allows it on the one hand to find catharsis and sublimate its frustrations, its sorrows, its daily burdens, and on the other, channel its hopes and dreams. The works of art produced by a culture serve to elevate it, ennoble its image not only in the present moment but over the course of history. The cultures that leave music, literature, painting, and works of architecture in their wake are immortal. Censoring or trying to limit artistic freedom, as totalitarian regimes do, represents the most humiliating act of subjugation that a government can impose on its citizens. In this issue, the Revista de la Universidad de México wanted to start a conversation revolving around these topics. Here, reader, you will find texts by writers such as Nadiezha Mandelstam or Sławomir Mrożek about censorship in Russia and Poland, articles about the cultural situation in Mexico, accounts of cultural policies—some positive, some disastrous—in countries like Brazil, France, Italy, Colombia, and Venezuela. We have also invited the current deputy minister of cultural development, Marina Núñez Bespalova, to describe the “Cultura comunitaria” project, one of the biggest moves made by Mexico’s current administration. The publisher Tomás Granados Salinas offers an assessment of the Fondo de Cultura Económica and the main challenges that lie ahead. Arnulfo Aquino, Francisco Toledo’s disciple and friend, outlines a profile of this outstanding figure and his invaluable work in promoting culture in the state of Oaxaca. In his essay “I3P” Abraham Cruzvillegas describes the path he followed from his childhood in a low income family from the Ajusco neighborhood, all the way to becoming a prominent figure within the international art scene thanks to the resources provided by the State during his training: above all, the public university and the grants awarded by FONCA (the National Endowment for Arts and Culture). His case is echoed by the experiences of many other renowned Mexican artists, and demonstrates that these incentives do not only benefit the privileged classes, but all those who have the tenacity to pursue a discipline until they master it. If there is something which we can all agree upon, it is that no one should be excluded from culture. For that reason, as Adriana Malvido notes, UNESCO recommends that every country designate at least one per cent of its GDP to the development of this sector. In a country decimated by violence and poverty, efforts to encourage artistic activities in the most marginalized and vulnerable communities are laudable. But does that mean that the State should withdraw its support from those groups in which artistic talent has already flourished? Of all the countries in Latin America, Mexico has historically devoted the most attention and resources to its cultural sector. This is one of the clearest examples of something the reprehensible regimes of the past have gotten right and managed to uphold for decades. It would be a tragedy for this to change in the coming years—to destroy what has been painstakingly built, solely for the sake of breaking with the past. As everyone knows, art tends to be onerous. Cultural subsidy has always helped to counteract our country’s enormous shortcomings in terms of education. Instead of making cutbacks to subsidy, governments should emphasize this role—at least until free and public education achieves a decent standard. To make this possible, it is up to all of us, spectators, readers, creators, producers, contributors—in short, all citizens—, to defend the universal right to culture.
Imagen de portada: Fotografía de Carolina Magis Weinberg, “Líneas de Teotitlán del Valle”, Oaxaca, 2008.