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INTRODUCTION Irma Molina & Lidia Fourcans

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Introducción

Luis Rojas, Alba Agosto, Jorge Henriquez Ross, Víctor Ordaz, Lorenzo Vargas Mantilla

Irma Molina & Lidia Fourcans Traducción: Aníbal H. Castillo

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FEATURE ARTICLE / ARTICULO ESPECIAL The Creation of a Mobile Workforce: Latin American Undocumented Workers in the Greater Toronto Area Denise Gastaldo, Christine Carrasco &

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ARTICLES / ARTICULOS Prólogo a La guerra de los 36 años, vista con ojos de mujer de izquierda Juan Duchesne Winter

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La Soledad como Leitmotif en la Poética de Jaime Sabines Lidia Valencia Fourcans

Migrant illegalization and transnational precarities in Maya’s Toronto Paloma E. Villegas

Nuevas Masculinidades: Una Conferencia de Actor Carlos Satizábal - Profesor Asociado, Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Lilian Magalhães

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EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE / TEATRO EXPERIMENTAL Laboratorio Teatral “Amigo Imaginario”

New Masculinities: An Actor’s Lecture Carlos Satizábal Translation: Carlos González-Vio

VISUAL CONTRIBUTIONS / CONTRIBUCIONES VISUALES Faces of Son Jarocho (Scratching the surface of a tradition) Alec Dempster

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Yo No Soy Pichón Esery Mondesir

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Sobre la Experiencia en Pintura Tania Iraheta

a journal of the latin american researchers of ontario (laro)


LATIN AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS Spring / Primavera 2013 | Volume 1 | Issue 1 Latin American Encounters (LAE) aims to promote critical dialogue on the issues that affect and shape the lives of Latin Americans in Canada. LAE provides an interdisciplinary space for groups and individuals who are interested in the production and dissemination of knowledge that questions hierarchical relations at the local, national and global levels. The journal’s main purpose is to explore the formation of LatinAmerican-Canadian identities/subjectivities and build the foundations for a systematic understanding of the social, economic, political and demographic context within which such identities form. LAE espouses bilingual (English/Spanish) written and visual work by authors who define themselves and/or their work as Latin American and who engage new, critical and provocative conceptual and ethnographic/empirical approaches.

EL propósito de Encuentros Latinoamericanos (ELA) es promover un diálogo crítico sobre las problemáticas que afectan y configuran las vidas de los Latinoamericanos en Canadá. ELA provee un espacio interdisciplinario para aquellos grupos e individuos que estén interesados en la producción y difusión del conocimiento que cuestione las relaciones jerárquicas a nivel local, nacional y global. El propósito principal es explorar la formación de identidades/subjetividades latino-americanas-canadienses y cimentar el entendimiento sistemático del contexto social, económico, político y demográfico dentro del que dichas identidades se forman ELA es una publicación bilingüe (Inglés-Español) que promueve trabajos escritos y visuales de quienes autodefinan su trabajo como Latinoamericano y quienes involucren nuevos enfoques etnográficos/empíricos provocativos, críticos y conceptuales.

PARTNERS Arjun Malhotra for

LARO


EDITORS Editorial Coordinator: Irma Molina, PhD Social Anthropology Areas of Interest: Analytics and Ethnography of War, Everyday-Life Theory, Ethics and Fieldwork in Contexts of Political Instability, The Ethics and Politics of Knowledge Production and Representation. EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS: Juan Martin Arellano, M.A International Affairs Areas of Interest: Political Economy, International Development, Indigenous Peoples, Social Justice, and Latin America. Fernando Flores, M.A Political Science Areas of Interest: Canadian Politics, Latin American inmigration to Canada, Human Rights, Social Movements, Crisis of Representative Democracy in the West, International Politics, American Foreign Policy. Lidia Valencia Fourcans, BA English, MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Registered English-Spanish Translator with specialization in Literary and Legal translation. Areas of interest: Latin American Culture and Identity, Latin American and Caribbean Development and Development Geography, Contemporary Latin American Philosophy and Thought, Modern Latin American and Spanish-American Literature, Immigration and Settlement Studies, Media Studies and Gender Studies. Daniela Godoy- Jameson, B.A(Hons) in Philosophy (York university) Certificate in Translation, professional Ethics (York university), Project Management (Humber College) MSed (Masters of Science in education from Medaille College) Areas of Interest: education, non-profits, animal welfare, curriculum and content development, human rights and the integral development of women. Tania Hernรกndez-Cervantes, MS in Economics, PhD candidate of the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Areas of interests: Social and Environmental Justice, Global and Local Agro-food Systems, Agroecology, Rural-Urban relationship and Ecological Economics. Henry Parada, BSW, MSW, PhD Areas of Interest: Latin America Social Work, Community Development,Anti-Oppression, institutional ethnography, child welfare Jamie Rodas, B.A, MPH from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Areas of Interest: Disaster response, Capacity building post-disaster, Marginalized groups, Health equity, and Social justice in the developing world. Hernรกn Sicilia, BA Film Production and Cinematography Areas of interest: Spanish-American Poetry, Baroque and Romantic Latin American Literature, Spanish-American Linguistics, Indigenous influences in Mexican Spanish language, Mexican Film Industry, Mexican Political Affairs.


Paloma E. Villegas, Ph.D. candidate, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT), MA in Women Studies. Areas of interest: The production of Migrant Illegalization in relation to Race, Citizenship and Gender BOARD OF REVIEWERS Mirna E. Carranza Associate Professor School of Social Work McMaster University KTH # 309-B Hamilton, ON, Canada

Glafira Rocha Independent Writer and Playwright Holds MS in Philosophy (UNAM) and BA in Letras Hispรกnicas (UAS). Has published extensively and received prestigious awards.

Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas Associate Professor Department of History Brock University St. Catharines, ON, L2S 3A1, Canada

Pablo Heidrich Senior Researcher on Trade and Development The North-South Institute 55 Murray Street, Suite 500 Ottawa, ON K1N 5M3, Canada

Ruben Gaztambide-Fernandez Associate Professor Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at The University of Toronto 252 Bloor Street West Toronto, ON M5S 1V6, Canada Ana Lorena Leija PhD Associate Artistic Director Aluna Theatre 123-1 Wiltshire Ave Toronto ON, M6N 2V7, Canada Journal cover, logo, and layout designed by Sandra Elizondo Graphic Designer www.sandraelizondo.com hello@sandraelizondo.com

Lisa Kowalchuk Associate Professor Department of Sociology and Anthropology University of Guelph 6th Floor Mackinnon Building, 50 Stone Road E Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada


SPRING / PRIMAVERA 2013 | VOLUME 1 | ISSUE 1

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INTRODUCTION Irma Molina & Lidia Fourcans

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Introducción Irma Molina & Lidia Fourcans Traducción: Aníbal H. Castillo

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FEATURE ARTICLE / ARTICULO ESPECIAL The Creation of a Mobile Workforce: Latin American Undocumented Workers in the Greater Toronto Area Denise Gastaldo, Christine Carrasco & Lilian Magalhães

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ARTICLES / ARTICULOS Prólogo a La guerra de los 36 años, vista con ojos de mujer de izquierda Juan Duchesne Winter

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La Soledad como Leitmotif en la Poética de Jaime Sabines Lidia Valencia Fourcans

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Migrant illegalization and transnational precarities in Maya’s Toronto

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EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE / TEATRO EXPERIMENTAL Laboratorio Teatral “Amigo Imaginario”

Paloma Villegas a journal ofE. the latin american researchers of ontario (laro)

Luis Rojas, Alba Agosto, Jorge Henriquez Ross, Víctor Ordaz, Lorenzo Vargas Mantilla

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Nuevas Masculinidades: Una Conferencia de Actor Carlos Satizábal - Profesor Asociado, Universidad Nacional de Colombia

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New Masculinities: An Actor’s Lecture Carlos Satizábal Translation: Carlos González-Vio


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VISUAL CONTRIBUTIONS / CONTRIBUCIONES VISUALES Faces of Son Jarocho (Scratching the surface of a tradition) Alec Dempster

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Yo No Soy Pich贸n Esery Mondesir

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Sobre la Experiencia en Pintura Tania Iraheta


INTRODUCTION INTRODUCCIÓN


Spring / Primavera 2013 | Volume 1 | Issue 1

LATIN AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS

Introduction to the First Issue Irma Molina1 & Lidia Fourcans2

Welcome to Latin American Encounters’ (LAE) first online publication. Through this and future publications, LAE hopes to provide a platform for bilingual, critical and interdisciplinary discussions on issues that affect and shape the lives of Latin Americans in Canada and the World. LAE hopes to encourage the production and dissemination of knowledge that questions hierarchical relations at the local, national and global levels. It also aims to contribute to a comprehensive exploration of Latin-American subjectivities and the social, economic, political and demographic contexts within which such subjectivities take form. As a peer-reviewed journal, LAE hopes to engage with the work of young and senior professional-academics as well as with grassroots-intellectuals whose work has been based on grounded knowledge and whose histories of intellectual production has had little (or indirect) ties to institutional/academic settings. LAE’s editorial board is conscious that dichotomies such as academic/non-academic are not only problematic but also embedded in a complex history of colonization (Asad 1973, Said 1978, Velásquez Nimatuj 2012) and resistance (Smith, 1999). By simultaneously combining the work of professional and grassroots intellectuals, LAE hopes to 1) further problematize this dichotomy, 2) explicitly validate the work of those who have historically been excluded from the tenets of dominant institutions, and 3) encourage critical dialogue around what constitutes “legitimate” knowledge. As a Latin American journal, LAE hopes to attract authors who despite their diverse disciplinary traditions, intellectual histories, and geographic backgrounds, choose to define themselves and/or their work as Latin American. LAE’s editorial board is aware that categories such as this one are the result of particular historical and contextual conditions and as such, they often reproduce exclusionary discourses that affect people differently. The editorial board is particularly aware that categories such as Latin American have the potential to evoke different and contradictory meanings and are, therefore, constantly subject to contestation and redefinition (Páez de Victor, 2011). This is particularly the case in Canada, where the category of Latin American encompasses 21 nationalities and more than 45 ethnic groups (Schugurensky and Ginieniewicz, 2007). Recognizing the great diversity that characterizes Latin Americans in Canada and beyond and recognizing the agency embedded in the act of self-identification, we leave the category open for ongoing discussion and critical self-reflection.

1 Irma Molina holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Toronto (Canada). She has done research on issues of indigeneity, warfare, and violence with a particular focus on Latin America. Her work has included extensive fieldwork in various indigenous communities in Chiapas, Mexico and teaching at various post-secondary institutions in Toronto. She is presently involved in the project “Unsettling the Classroom: Social Work Education in the Context of New Managerialism” through which she is exploring the relationship between institutional constraints, the formation of academic subjects and the production of academic knowledge. 2 Lidia Valencia Fourcans holds a B.A. in English literature from the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico and an M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of Guelph. She is currently pursuing graduate studies at the Department of Geography, University of Guelph. Lidia has taught contemporary literature, textual analysis and theory of translation at the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos and The Alzate University, Mexico. She is also a registered English-Spanish Translator with specialization in Literary and Legal translation. Her main areas of interest and research are Latin American Culture and Identity, Gender and Development Studies, Contemporary Latin American Philosophy and Thought, Modern Latin American and Spanish-American Literature, Economic Geography and Consumption Geographies.

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Contributions to the first issue The editorial board is grateful to the authors who contributed to the first issue for leading the way. The contributions are interdisciplinary, drawing from a range of disciplinary traditions such as sociology, history, literature, theatre, music and visual arts. They engage issues related to undocumentedness (Denise Gastaldo, Christine Carrasco & Lilian Magalhães), revolution (Juan Duchesne Winter), solitude (Lidia Fourcans), migration (Paloma Villegas), memory (Luis Rojas et al, Tania Iraheta,), masculinity (Carlos Satizábal), tradition (Alec Dempster), and identity (Esery Mondesir). “The Creation of a Mobile Workforce: Latin American Undocumented Workers in the Greater Toronto Area”, by Denise Gastaldo, Christine Carrasco & Lilian Magalhães, presents findings on the migration journeys of 20 undocumented workers performing a range of occupations for a minimum of 18 months in Canada, but more typically for a few years. Focusing on the case of Latin Americans in the GTA, the authors contest popular understandings of who is undocumented and how undocumentedness is produced. While the authors recognize that some of the issues identified in the article are not unique to undocumented workers, they argue that they are present in undocumented workers’ experiences and unfold in ways that are different to that of other precarious status groups as a direct result of undocumented workers’ minimalto-no legal and social protections in Canada. The Prologue to the third edition of Chiqui Ramirez’s La Guerra de los 36 Años, Vista con Ojos de Mujer de Izquierda by Juan Duchesne Winter, describes this as an exceptional book. DuchesneWinter highlights the sophisticated manner in which Ramirez engages the contradictions of the Guatemalan revolutionary project, carefully examining, through her own experience, the complex humanity of some of the protagonists of this particular moment. Sharp critique, flexible stile enriched by Guatemalan colloquialisms, and grounded analysis and self-reflection make this book a remarkable contribution. “La Soledad como Leitmotiv en la Poética de Jaime Sabines”, by Lidia Fourcans, focuses on “solitude” as a recurrent theme in the poetic work of Jaime Sabines (1926 – 1999). By arguing that “solitude” is fundamental to the construction of Sabines’ creative identity, the author is able to beautifully unravel the poetic essence of one of the greatest exponents of Mexican and Latin American poetry of the 20th century. The author introduces Sabines’ poetry as a form of subversion and critique to the conventional social discourses related to love (marriage), religion, death and individualism that prevailed in Sabines’ historical context. “Migrant illegalization and transnational precarities in Maya’s Toronto” by Paloma E. Villegas draws on the poem Toronto, by Jesús Maya, to analyze the production of migrant illegalization for Latin Americans migrating to el Norte. The author argues that Toronto allows one to see the complicated workings of migrant illegalization, some of which are transnational in nature. In addition, Toronto demonstrates the fact that migration and immigration status trajectories are not linear. Finally, Toronto depicts the ways in which migrants negotiate processes of illegalization by drawing on their personal, affective and transnational connections in search for the ever elusive dream of stability. “Laboratorio Teatral Amigo Imaginario” by Luis Rojas et al is a collective experimental play that explores childhood imaginary friendship as a central theme. The play is divided into four 10 | Latin American Encounters


Introduction to the First Issue

acts which describe the authors’ concerns with unrealized dreams, fear, surrealism, dictatorships, nostalgia, and memory. Each act embodies a different experience of what it may mean to be a Latin American immigrant in Toronto constantly searching for freedom. “New Masculinities” is a humorous and thought provoking “performance paper” by playwright/director Carlos Satizábal (Translated to English by Carlos González-Vio). The paper challenges conventional views of masculinity and provides the basis for dialogue about what it means to be “male” as well as for imagining how alternative or new masculinities may reshape social relations. The paper touches on silent cultural codes and paradigms that work to produce “machos,” support patriarchal legitimacy and reproduce the dominance of men over women. Satizábal forcefully argues that a search for new masculinities ultimately implies unlearning the values and attitudes that devalue women. “Faces of Son Jarocho: Scratching the surface of a tradition” by Alec Dempster, is part of a larger multidisciplinary project combining the documentation of oral history with portraiture, using the printmaking medium. The subjects are elderly musicians, singers and dancers from two neighbouring municipalities in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, whose lives have all revolved around Son Jarocho, a traditional musical style associated to this particular region. Alec Demspter began these interviews in 1999 while making field recordings in the area around the town of Santiago Tuxtla. The musicians’ stories became as important as the recording of the music. “Yo No Soy Pichón” (working title) by Esery Mondesir is a five-minute work-in-progress documentary narrative. The film explores the concepts of cultural identity, nationality and citizenship by following a group of Cubans of Haitian descent as they prepare for a vodou ceremony. While they have never set foot in Haiti, these “pichón de haitiano”, as they are derogatorily called by other Cubans, have proudly preserved the Creole language and have made the vodou religion a place of resistance and survival. The final section, “Iraheta: Sobre la Experiencia en Pintura”, presents the visual work of Tania Iraheta, a self-taught visual artist and educator. This section also contains a short review by Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas, Associate Professor form the Department of History at Brock University. Tania Iraheta’s paintings evoke mood, memory and emotions coming from places and events in her life that have left an imprint in her memory. For Suescun Pozas, Iraheta offers the viewer four conceptual spaces through which abstraction makes two worlds possible: memory and painting. Her work is an invitation to untangle the experience in the painting from the notion of representation and discover its liberating capacity.

References Asad, Talal (1973) Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter. Ithaca, NY: Ithaca Press. Páez de Víctor, María (2011) “Soy Latinoamericana, no Hispana” Revista Debate. Said, Edward (1979) Orientalism. New York: Vintage.

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Schugurensky, Daniel & Jorge Ginieniewicz (2007) “The Latin American Community in Canada: Some Challenges Ahead” Diálogos: Intercultural Services, No. 3. Smith, Linda Tuhiwai (1999) Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books Velásquez Nimatuj, Irma A (2012) “Desafío maya: ¿“objetos de estudio” o sujetos intelectuales?” Latin American Studies Association, FOCUS 43(1).

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Spring / Primavera 2013 | Volume 1 | Issue 1

LATIN AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS

Introducción al Primer Número Irma Molina1 & Lidia Fourcans2 Traducción: Aníbal H. Castillo3

Bienvenidos a Encuentros Latinoamericanos, la primera publicación en línea de ELA. A través de ésta y futuras publicaciones, ELA espera proporcionar una plataforma para discusiones bilingües, críticas e interdisciplinarias acerca de temas que afectan y moldean las vidas de los latinoamericanos en Canadá y el Mundo. ELA espera promover la producción y diseminación de conocimiento que cuestione las relaciones jerárquicas a nivel local, nacional y global. También tiene como objetivo contribuir a una exploración exhaustiva de las subjetividades Latinoamericanas y de los contextos sociales, económicos, políticos y demográficos dentro de los cuales dichas subjetividades concurren. ELA es una revista académica que espera involucrar el trabajo tanto de profesionalesacadémicos de larga trayectoria y de recién graduados, así como intelectuales con experiencia de base, cuyo trabajo se ha fundado en el conocimiento empírico y cuyas historias de producción intelectual hayan tenido pocos (o indirectos) vínculos con instituciones académicas. El comité editorial de ELA es consciente de que las dicotomías como académico/no académico no sólo son problemáticas sino que también están inmersas en una compleja historia de colonización (Asad, 1973; Said, 1978; Velásquez Nimatuj, 2012) y resistencia (Smith, 1999). Al mismo tiempo que combina el trabajo de profesionales e intelectuales empíricos, ELA espera 1) problematizar aún más esta dicotomía, 2) explícitamente validar el trabajo de aquellos que históricamente han sido excluidos de las doctrinas de las instituciones dominantes, y 3) fomentar el diálogo crítico en torno a lo que constituye conocimiento “legítimo”. Como una revista académica latinoamericana, ELA espera atraer a autores que a pesar de sus diversas tradiciones disciplinarias, historias intelectuales y procedencias geográficas, optan por definirse a ellos mismos y/o a su trabajo como latinoamericanos. El comité editorial de ELA es consciente de que las categorías como esta son el resultado de determinadas condiciones históricas y contextuales y como tales, a menudo reproducen discursos excluyentes que afectan a las personas de manera diferente. El comité editorial es particularmente consciente de que las categorías como latinoamericano tienen el potencial de evocar significados diferentes y contradictorios y están, por lo tanto, constantemente sujetas a cuestionamientos y redefinición (Páez de Víctor, 2011). Este es particularmente el caso en Canadá, donde la categoría de latinoamericano abarca 21 nacionalidades y más de 45 grupos étnicos (Schugurensky 1 Irma Molina es doctora en Antropología Social por la Universidad de Toronto (Canadá). Ha realizado investigaciones sobre temas de indigeneidad, guerra y violencia, con un enfoque particular en América Latina. Su trabajo ha incluido extenso trabajo de campo en varias comunidades indígenas de Chiapas, México y docencia en diversas instituciones de enseñanza terciaria en Toronto. 2 Lidia Valencia Fourcans es Licenciada en Letras Inglesas por la Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México y Maestra en estudios Latinoamericanos y del Caribe por la Universidad de Guelph (Canadá). Actualmente cursa estudios de postgrado en el Departamento de Geografía, Universidad de Guelph. Lidia ha enseñado Literatura Contemporánea, Análisis del Discurso y Teoría de la Traducción. También es traductora registrada de inglés-español con especialización en Literatura y traducción Legal. 3 Aníbal H. Castillo es Licenciado en Ciencias Biológicas por la Universidad de la República (Uruguay) y Maestro en Zoología por la Universidad de Guelph. Actualmente trabaja en el Instituto de Biodiversidad de Ontario. Aníbal es traductor e intérprete registrado de inglés-español. Tiene experiencia enseñando talleres bilingües, traduciendo material científico e interpretando en ambientes académicos y de servicio social. Sus principales áreas de interés e investigación son la biología evolutiva, filogenias moleculares y biodiversidad.

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y Ginieniewicz, 2007). Reconociendo la gran diversidad que caracteriza a los latinoamericanos en Canadá y otras regiones y reconociendo la voz política implicada en el acto de auto-identificación, dejamos la categoría abierta para el debate continuo y la autorreflexión crítica.

Contribuciones al primer número El comité editorial agradece a los autores que contribuyeron a la primera edición por su liderazgo. Las contribuciones son interdisciplinarias y abarcan un rango de tradiciones disciplinarias como sociología, historia, literatura, teatro, música y artes visuales. Incluyen temas relacionados con la indocumentación (Denise Gastaldo, Christine Carrasco & Lilian Magalhães), revolución (Juan Duchesne Winter), soledad (Lidia Fourcans), migración (Paloma Villegas), memoria (Luis Rojas et al, Tania Iraheta), masculinidad (Carlos Satizábal), tradición (Alec Dempster), e identidad (Esery Mondesir), “The Creation of a Mobile Workforce: Latin American Undocumented Workers in the Greater Toronto Area” [“La Creación de una Fuerza de Trabajo Móvil: Trabajadores de América Latina Indocumentados en el Área Metropolitana de Toronto”], por Denise Gastaldo, Christine Carrasco y Lilian Magalhães, presenta las conclusiones sobre los viajes migratorios de 20 trabajadores indocumentados quienes llevan a cabo una variedad de ocupaciones durante un mínimo de 18 meses en Canadá, pero por lo general por unos pocos años. Centrándose en el caso de los Latinoamericanos en el GTA, los autores cuestionan el entendimiento popular de quién es indocumentado y cómo se produce esta condición. Si bien los autores reconocen que algunas de las cuestiones señaladas en el artículo no son exclusivas de los trabajadores indocumentados, argumentan que éstas están presentes en las experiencias de los trabajadores indocumentados y que se desarrollan de formas diferentes a las de otros grupos de estatus precario como consecuencia directa de que los trabajadores indocumentados tienen una mínima o ninguna protección legal y social en Canadá. El Prólogo a la tercera edición de Guerra de los 36 Años, Vista con Ojos de Mujer de Izquierda de Chiqui Ramírez por Juan Duchesne Winter, lo describe como un libro excepcional. DuchesneWinter pone de manifiesto la manera sofisticada en la que Ramírez involucra las contradicciones del proyecto revolucionario de Guatemala, examinando diligentemente, a través de su propia experiencia, la compleja humanidad de algunos de los protagonistas de este momento en particular. La crítica aguda, el estilo flexible rico en coloquialismos guatemaltecos, el análisis franco y la autorreflexión hacen de este libro una contribución notable. “La Soledad Como leitmotiv en la Poética de Jaime Sabines”, por Lidia Fourcans, se centra en “la soledad” como un tema recurrente en la obra poética de Jaime Sabines (1926 - 1999). Al argumentar que la “soledad” es fundamental para la construcción de la identidad creativa de Sabines, la autora es capaz de desentrañar espléndidamente la esencia poética de uno de los máximos exponentes de la poesía mexicana y latinoamericana del siglo XX. La autora introduce la poesía de Sabines como una forma de subversión y crítica a los discursos sociales convencionales relacionados con el amor (el matrimonio), la religión, la muerte y el individualismo imperantes en el contexto histórico de Sabines. “Migrant illegalization and transnational precarities in Maya’s Toronto” [“Ilegalización de

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migrantes y precariedades transnacionales en el Toronto de Maya”] por Paloma E. Villegas se basa en el poema Toronto, de Jesús Maya, para analizar la producción de ilegalización de migrantes latinoamericanos al Norte. La autora sostiene que el poema Toronto nos permite ver el complicado funcionamiento de la ilegalización de migrantes, algunos de los cuales son de naturaleza transnacional. Además, Toronto demuestra el hecho de que las trayectorias del estatus de migración e inmigración no son lineales. Por último, Toronto representa las formas en que los migrantes negocian los procesos de ilegalización apoyándose en sus conexiones personales, afectivas y transnacionales en busca del siempre esquivo sueño de estabilidad. “Laboratorio Teatral Amigo Imaginario” por Luis Rojas et al. es una obra colectivo-experimental que explora la amistad imaginaria de la infancia como un tema central. La obra se divide en cuatro actos que describen las preocupaciones de los autores con respecto a sueños no realizados, miedo, surrealismo, dictaduras, nostalgia y memoria. Cada acto incorpora una experiencia diferente de lo que puede significar ser un inmigrante latinoamericano en Toronto constantemente en busca de libertad. “Nuevas Masculinidades” es un “documento de ejecución” divertido y provocador de pensamiento por el dramaturgo/director Carlos Satizábal. El documento cuestiona las visiones convencionales de la masculinidad y proporciona la base para el diálogo acerca de lo que significa ser “hombre”, así como para imaginar cómo las masculinidades alternativas o nuevas pueden reestructurar las relaciones sociales. El artículo aborda códigos culturales silenciosos y paradigmas que contribuyen a producir “machos”, afirmar la legitimidad patriarcal y reproducir la dominación de hombres sobre mujeres. Satizábal argumenta persuasivamente que la búsqueda de nuevas masculinidades en última instancia implica desaprender los valores y actitudes que devalúan a las mujeres. “Faces of Son Jarocho: Scratching the surface of a tradition” [“Rostros de Son Jarocho: Arañando la superficie de una tradición”] de Alec Dempster, forma parte de un proyecto multidisciplinario más amplio que combina la documentación de la historia oral con el retrato, utilizando el medio grabado. Los sujetos son músicos de edad avanzada, cantantes y bailarines de dos municipios vecinos del estado de Veracruz, México, cuyas vidas han girado en torno a Son Jarocho, un estilo musical tradicional asociado a esta región en particular. Alec Dempster comenzó las entrevistas en 1999 al hacer grabaciones de campo en los alrededores de la ciudad de Santiago Tuxtla. Las historias de los músicos llegaron a ser tan importantes como la grabación de la música. “Yo No Soy Pichón” (título provisional) por Esery Mondesir es un documental narrativo en progreso, de cinco minutos de duración. El filme explora los conceptos de identidad cultural, nacionalidad y ciudadanía, a través de seguir a un grupo de cubanos de ascendencia haitiana mientras se preparan para una ceremonia vudú. Si bien nunca han puesto un pie en Haití, estos “pichones de haitiano”, como son llamados despectivamente por otros cubanos, han preservado orgullosamente la lengua Creole y han hecho de la religión vudú un lugar de resistencia y supervivencia. La sección final, “Iraheta: Sobre la Experiencia en Pintura”, presenta el trabajo visual de Tania Iraheta, una artista visual y educadora autodidacta. Esta sección también contiene un pequeño comentario por María del Carmen Suescun Pozas, Profesora del Departamento de Historia de Brock University. Las imágenes de Tania Iraheta evocan estados de ánimo, memorias y Latin American Encounters | 15


Irma Molina & Lidia Fourcans

emociones que emergen de lugares y eventos en su vida y que han dejado huellas en su memoria. Para Suescum Pozas, Iraheta ofrece cuatro espacios conceptuales en los que la abstracción hace posible que dos mundos, el de la memoria y el que se nos presenta como pintura, se encuentren. Su obra es una invitación a que desliguemos la experiencia en pintura de la noción de representación y descubramos en ella su capacidad liberadora.

Bibliografía Asad, T. (1973). Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter. Ithaca, NY: Ithaca Press. Páez de Víctor, M. (2011). “Soy Latinoamericana, no Hispana” Revista Debate. Said, E. (1979). Orientalism. New York: Vintage. Schugurensky, D. & J. Ginieniewicz (2007). “The Latin American Community in Canada: Some Challenges Ahead” Diálogos: Intercultural Services, No. 3. Smith, L.T. (1999). Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books Velásquez Nimatuj, I.A. (2012). “Desafío maya: ¿“objetos de estudio” o sujetos intelectuales? Latin American Studies Association, FOCUS 43(1).

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FEATURE ARTICLE ARTICULO ESPECIAL


Spring / Primavera 2013 | Volume 1 | Issue 1

LATIN AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS

The Creation of a Mobile Workforce: Latin American Undocumented Workers in the Greater Toronto Area1 Denise Gastaldo, Christine Carrasco & Lilian Magalhães2

“Yes, I am illegal, but I also generate revenue to this country because I eat here, I buy clothes here, I pay rent here, and I pay taxes on all these things. Also, my work is not paid like other people (…) I understand, I am breaking the law, but I think that I – and many other people – are not stealing from Canada because we don’t receive any financial assistance from this country, and I am not a bad person either. In my case, and in the case of other good people I know, we don’t steal, we don’t go out committing any crimes.” (Elena)

It has been estimated that one out of every 33 people in the world is an international migrant, some 214 million have moved looking for a better life (UNDESA, 2008). This is equivalent to about three percent of the world population. According to several sources, these figures are expected to rise significantly as gaps widen between poor and rich countries and globalization processes as well as environmental challenges increase migration pressures. Already in the last decade, undocumented migration has become the fastest growing form of migration, with an estimated 30 to 40 million undocumented workers worldwide (Papademetriou, 2005) or an estimated 2.5 to 4 million people per year who migrate without proper authorization (UNFPA, n.d.). In the Canadian context, estimates suggest that half a million workers are currently undocumented (Papademetriou, 2005). Although there is consensus of the vulnerability of undocumented work, little is known about the experience of undocumented workers in Canada, including who they are, why they come, the particularities of their working conditions, and the strategies they employ for coping and resisting exploitative conditions in various realms of their transnational existence. In national and international research, undocumented workers have either been a forgotten group or they have been a point of reference to illustrate globalizations’ effects. Very rarely has the focus been on undocumented workers’ diversity of occupations and circumstances or resistance and ingenuity in the face of hardship, like explored in this study. This article presents findings on the migration journeys of 20 undocumented workers performing a range of occupations for a minimum of 18 months in Canada, but more typically for a few years. Focusing on the case of Latin Americans in the GTA, we contest popular understandings of who is undocumented and how undocumentedness is produced. While we recognize that some of the issues identified herein are not unique to undocumented workers, we 1 This article presents sections of the e-book Entangled in a web of exploitation and solidarity: Latin American undocumented workers in the Greater Toronto Area (http://www.migrationhealth.ca/undocumented-workers-ontario/summary-findings) which was published in October 2012. There were some editorial changes in the creation of this article. 2 We thank our community advisors and partner organizations, Centre for Spanish Speaking People and the Centre for Support and Social Integration BrazilCanada, for their guidance and active role in the development of several phases of this study. Denise Gastaldo is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, Christine Carrasco is a Research Coordinator at the University of Toronto, and Lilian Magalhães is an Associate Professor at Western University.

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argue that they are present in undocumented workers’ experiences and unfold in ways that are different to that of other precarious status groups as a direct result of undocumented workers’ minimal-to-no legal and social protections in Canada.

Definition of undocumented worker In this project, we defined “undocumented worker” as any woman or man working in Canada who had: 1. legally entered Canada but remained in the country after their visa/ permit expired (“overstayers”); 2. experienced changes in their socioeconomic position (e.g. loss of visa-dependent job or early divorce in the case of sponsorships) and could not renew their residence permit but remained in the country; 3. received a negative decision on their refugee application but remained in the country; 4. used fraudulent documentation to enter Canada; or 5. unlawfully entered Canada, including those who were smuggled

The production of undocumented migration from Latin America to Canada

Elena’s Body Map3

“… They (the bosses) used to say… that no Canadian would work in the same way a Mexican person or a Latino person works. Perhaps because they are in more need or because they don’t have papers.” (Elena)

First and foremost, the reasons propelling workers to migrate thousands of miles away from their home and loved ones needs to be distinguished, yet understood, in the context of the 3 Body-map storytelling is primarily a data generating research method used to tell a story that visually reflects social, political and economic processes, as well as individuals’ embodied experiences and meanings attributed to their life circumstances that shape who they have become. Body-map storytelling has the potential to connect times and spaces in people’s lives that are otherwise seen as separate and distal in more traditional, linear accounts. As a product, mapped stories offer a creative and potentially visually-compelling approach for knowledge translation and exchange.” (Gastaldo, Magalhães, Carrasco & Davy, 2012, p.10)

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factors that shape and make such journeys possible. Castles and Miller (2009) refer to such factors and interactions as the migratory process. Existing social networks and transnational linkages are at the foundation of the migratory process and play an important role in determining the course of migration and its outcomes for individuals. Yet, migration is complex and the causes for migration should not be reduced to simply push and pull factors, where individuals freely weigh the potential costs and benefits of migration. In most cases, our study participants did not have realistic information on their potential earnings in Canada, the cost of living, or an idea of the physical toll working in jobs distinct from what they were used to would have on their bodies. In many other cases, participants had distorted perceptions of life in Canada which was reinforced by other migrants’ biased accounts of their experiences. In this paper, we offer an alternative reading of why people migrate and illustrate how the process of falling out of status or becoming undocumented involves more than just the immigrant worker as an active player. We then explore the processes by which undocumented migration, as a global phenomenon, is simultaneously created and maintained by global and national level policies (health and immigration laws), macro-economic and labour market trends (e.g. recession, rise in casualization of work) and personal level interests that are deeply entrenched in dominant structures of power.

Who comes and why? Institutional factors as well as socio-demographic characteristics such as age, gender, class, and education invariably shape migratory trends. Most participants in our study had some form of technical training or higher education and rarely belonged to the lowest socioeconomic group in their respective countries of origin. In many cases, their intermediate social status granted them student and tourist visas that would have otherwise been denied to poor individuals that lacked secure jobs or assets needed to convince immigration officials that they were not here to stay. Belonging to a higher socioeconomic group also meant having the economic means to invest in migration, while those participants from lower social standings often relied on family loans or informal avenues of credit which they were required to pay back with high interest as soon as they arrived. For instance, one participant in our study who migrated with her family described having to sell their small home, furniture and all immediate assets just to pay for their airfare to Canada. Kinship ties, friendship and shared community origins also contributed to participants’ migration decisions and shaped the conditions of their arrival. For instance, out of the 20 participants in our study, only one had direct family members already living in Canada, but almost all others had friends, acquaintances or strong affiliations with an existing organization. Knowing someone in Canada was often the tipping point for migration, since these network connections constituted valuable social capital that some participants used to secure employment and other needed resources such as housing prior to or upon arrival to Canada. As Victoria, a recent university graduate, described: “Even though I had a job, I felt the need to find a job in my field… So I decided to come to Canada. I have a friend here. I contacted him. He introduced me to a friend who still lives here and she helped me do a lot of things, like get a ‘cash’ (paying) job... she 20 | Latin American Encounters


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has been here for 10 years.” (Victoria) Although migration often depended on these conditions, it can be clearly seen through the example above that participants’ rationale for migrating was usually guided by a comparison of their current life circumstances, whether financial, affective or professional, to that of alternative opportunities for advancement or improved quality of life that Canada could offer them and their families.

Economic migration While migrating for better economic opportunities was often cited as the main reason for migrating, participants’ accounts of their premigration conditions elucidated how economic disadvantage is inextricably linked to social and political problems. Despite being highly educated or having years of work experience, participants commonly spoke of the impossibility for occupational advancement or job security in their countries of origin which often intersected with age and gender-based discrimination. Other participants reported leaving their home countries because of drug-related crime, political instability, and other types of violence and systemic discrimination. For instance, after years of working in his respective field and then being ‘let go’, Roberto noted: “Back in my home country it is very common that after 35, you’re considered not useful anymore. When you turn 36 you already know they’re going to give you the well-known “voluntary retirement” treatment. They tell you: ’Roberto leave voluntarily, sign here’… and if you don’t sign you’re gone after a single mishap. That’s what happened. The first mistake I made… they let me go.” (Roberto) Fabio, who worked as a business administrator for several years, similarly experienced targeted Elena’s Body Map3 dismissal and spoke about the difficulty of finding a job thereafter because of the credentialist mentality of those hiring. Given that most of his education had been “on the job” and his previous position superseded his educational qualifications, he could not find a job: “the cost of Latin American Encounters | 21


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living was very high... And [to find] work was very difficult due to my [limited] studies.” For other participants, the global economic recession took a major toll on their independent businesses which forced them into bankruptcy, unemployment, and massive debt that had a crippling effect on their livelihood and personal safety. As Rafael described: “After living as low-middle class, we had an economic problem and we plunged to the bottom. We fell into poverty… My family has no money. We lost it all. Everything I earn goes to them, so they can eat and move forward.” (Rafael) As Rafael’s case study below further illustrates, coming to Canada was a choice made under limited alternatives in the face of growing drug-related violence in his country of origin. Yet this type of systemic violence and threat to personal safety faced by so many immigrants is rarely recognized by immigration officials in Canada as a reason for admissibility.

Case Study 1 Why did Rafael migrate? Rafael is a single young male who has lived in Canada for 2 years. After the market crash devastated his business he had no choice but to come to Canada to support his aging parents and pay off his family debt. Staying back home would have been his death sentence since drug trafficking, kidnapping for large ransoms, assault and political insecurity had become so pervasive. As Rafael described, “all I owed, everything, I am taking two years to pay off [here]. There [back home] I could pay it in a month, but I’d become an assassin and end up in prison, dead, or fleeing for my life. I’d end up psychologically tormented. And so, the best option is to do it well…search [for opportunities] in another country, where you can live in peace”. So Rafael came to Canada through a recruitment agency that claimed to provide workers with work permits and accommodation upon arrival in return for a flat pre-departure fee of $3500. Upon arrival, Rafael was given a visitor’s visa rather than a work permit, and was dropped off at a guest house where he had to pay for a one-bedroom basement apartment that he was forced to share with several other male migrant workers who came through the same recruitment agency weeks before. Although no work arrangements had been made, Rafael quickly found construction work and better housing through advertisements in Latin American newspapers and by connecting with other immigrants. Since his arrival, Rafael has worked in demolition, roofing and framing and has been to other major cities in Canada in search for better work opportunities. Rafael is continuously exploited by his employers who underpay and undertrain him while providing unsafe working conditions. He has also been deceived by employers who promise work permits or opportunities for learning new skills in return for low pay. On the weekends, Rafael does factory work through a temporary work agency, which he says is a useful distraction from the loneliness he feels at times. He has very little friends in Canada and although he wants to start a family, he feels that he has nothing to offer a woman. Rafael consistently turns to his faith for strength and perseverance. He thanks God for giving him the opportunity to come to Canada and help his family. 22 | Latin American Encounters


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Yet for nearly all participants who migrated for primarily economic reasons, migrating to Canada was rooted in a clear trade-off between hard work and financial rewards. As Emiliano noted: “… How many of my co-workers, like me, who sort tomatoes… how many of them do you think have studied to sort tomatoes? NONE OF THEM! Yet, their migration is economic, and when they go back, they want to work in their field but they can’t do that here. Maybe if they could they would, but they can’t.” (Emiliano) For Elena, migrating to Canada provided a once and a lifetime chance to help her parents pay off their debt and finally save for her own education: “Nowadays, one Canadian dollar is worth twelve times more than a peso from [country]… What I most wanted to do was to help my parents a bit with their debt… and be able to pay for my own university education.” (Elena) For other participants, like Valeria, migrating to work in Canada provided an opportunity to save enough money to purchase an apartment for her family in her home country – something that would have taken several years, if even possible, to accomplish had she stayed and continued to work for minimal pay. “I left my job there because I wanted.... I really wanted to have my own apartment. I had a house [shared with relatives]; I would have needed a mortgage from the bank to buy an apartment (...) it would have taken 30 years to pay back (…) So I decided to emigrate to pay for the apartment much faster.” (Valeria)

Gendered migration patterns Unlike trends in permanent migration to Canada, where women traditionally migrate for family reunification purposes, in our study, family considerations rarely motivated migration for women. In fact, a large number of men and women were single, and only one female in our study had children abroad and sent regular remittances to her family. Yet for 4 men in our study, the main purpose for their migration was to provide financial support to their spouse or children back home. The migration histories of our study participants also highlight how migration is shaped by gendered kinship relations. For instance, household circumstances and organization played a critical role in the process of negotiating resources and making migration decisions, such as who migrates and for what reasons. Pepe for example, was the oldest unmarried sibling in his household after his father passed away, and his migration to Canada was motivated in large part by his new found obligation to provide for his widowed mother and young sibling. As Pepe noted: “Right now she is not working because I told her, ‘Why are you working if I am sending you money?’ …They (my oldest brothers) do (help) but not in the way I am telling you, they already have children, they have things to do.” (Pepe) As a single young male, Rafael similarly came to Canada to help support his aging parents. These two cases, in addition to the four fathers in our study who provided regular remittances

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to their families, reaffirm the common household expectation that males should, at all cost, fulfill the function of primary breadwinners. Conversely, the majority of women in our study provided only occasional remittances to support their family back home, and kept the majority of their earnings as savings, which further reinforces this gendered migration pattern. Gender also intersected with other axes of identity such as age and marital status to influence migration. Unlike all the men in our study who came to Canada unaccompanied, 5 out of the 11 women in our study either came with their partners or with direct family members, which may indicate that migration becomes a more viable option for women as the perceived risks of migrating to an unknown place decrease if traveling with someone. The majority of women in our study were also younger than males and tended to be unmarried without children before migrating. This may also indicate that young single women have more personal freedom than females who are married or have children and are more confined to the domestic arena. Overall, our study findings suggest that while participants had varying life circumstances, the undocumented migration of adult married females or single mothers unaccompanied by their children tends to be low in comparison to husbands, fathers, unmarried sons and single daughters. It is also important to mention that experiences of physical and sexual violence disproportionately affected women in our study, both as a precipitator to undocumented migration and as a result. For instance, Renata experienced repeated sexual violence in her country of origin, and combined with the financial stressors she and her partner faced, this was her main reason for leaving: “As a woman, I suffered a lot. A lot of assault, a lot of violence… There wasn’t a single job where I wasn’t sexually assaulted. You go out to the street and feel afraid that somebody will do something to you… not just get “jumped”, but something physical. I mean, THEY TOUCH YOU, it’s horrible! … You know you cannot live free.” (Renata) Other participants’ experiences were characterized by sexual migration, a concept recently developed to capture international relocation that is motivated by the sexuality of those who migrate (Carrillo, 2004). Andrea, an openly homosexual female, recounted her experience of being the target for violent homophobic harassment in a large urban centre back home. Andrea also faced social rejection by her family as a result of her sexual orientation, and her reason for migrating to Canada was highly motivated by the search for greater social integration, sexual freedom and rights: “[There is] people’s rejection, your own family. And, by not being there, it isn’t an issue (...). I look a lot like my sister … [and] one day my sister was beaten [on her way home] because people thought she was me. [They said] “That girl is a queer!” Moderator: And where you beaten in the streets in [country]? Andrea: I was beaten many times in schools, but also [in the street]… Moderator: And who would beat you up? Andrea: Boys, girls, skinheads...” (Andrea) For participants like Valeria, sexual violence came as a direct consequence of the undocumented migration journey. Valeria was one of the few undocumented women in our study who had experience with clandestine border crossing, and in addition to having faced a very 24 | Latin American Encounters


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long and treacherous journey to the United States from her home country, Valeria described being threatened with rape by the male coyotes she trusted in to get her across the border. The vulnerability of migrant females to sexual abuse was also a common thread in other participants’ accounts of the dangers associated with undocumented work. Days after arriving to Canada with a group of undocumented workers, Fabio was asked by three of his female housemates, who knew he was married and had a daughter, if he could accompany them to a meeting related to a job offer. The people who owned the house where they rented rooms had told some acquaintances about these girls’ arrival. Due to lack of concrete details about the job and fearing for their safety, they went to the meeting location with Fabio as a chaperone. There they learnt these men owned a bar where “dancers” were needed. As Fabio explained, the girls were reassured this was not prostitution, that no client would ever touch them, but the job description seemed suspiciously easy and well-paid so they left despite all promises made. These stories illustrate that women are particularly vulnerable to all types of violence and abuse during their journey and upon arriving to destination countries such as Canada. Anecdotal evidence provided by study participants about such vulnerabilities has also been corroborated by our experienced community partners. Recent literature on sex trafficking in Canada, further suggests that migrant women are repeatedly left in the hands of organized criminal groups or by individuals who take advantage of their vulnerable legal situation in Canada to sexually exploit or rape them (Langevin & Belleau, 2002; Timoshkina, 2011).

Undocumented migration is here to stay From our participants’ experiences (see e-book pages 33-43), it is clear that the demand for undocumented workers is at an all-time high in Canada and growing. Yet, the rules governing migration to Canada get increasingly tighter and there is a new emphasis on temporary work arrangements that do not lead into permanent residency – this is occurring in an era when the politics and economics governing the flow of money and the global movement of goods continue to proceed unrestrictedly. Thus the complex network of players benefitting from undocumented migration seems to be part and parcel of its continuance. As governments manage migration through multi-level policies, their main purpose for doing so is to regulate the foundation and economic gains of a global migration business (Salt & Stein, 1997). Here, the main apparatuses for managing this industry’s business efficiency are government programs aimed to control who is allowed to enter and what each of these categories of migrants are entitled. Maintaining this business enterprise are global labour market trends that promote the continued demand for cheap labour regardless of its source and its consequences on human life. At an individual level, migrants’ limited income or difficult personal circumstances make them engage with globalization processes, producing undocumented migration flows to Canada, and maintaining workers in a precarious legal status once they are here.

The undocumented migration industry Embedded in participants’ migration narratives was the recurring theme of what we call, an “undocumented migration industry”. This booming industry included a broad spectrum of people and organizations that benefited in overt and covert ways by organizing undocumented Latin American Encounters | 25


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migration, advising workers on how to migrate, or by exploiting workers once they were here. These players were both in workers’ countries of origin and in Canada, and included: travel agents, labour recruiters, brokers, smugglers (i.e. coyotes), immigration lawyers, unscrupulous landlords, employers, and at times, known acquaintances, family, and friends. Thereby we envision undocumented migration as a monopolistically competitive industry with no end in sight. Several participants in our study paid to obtain travel information from agents or legal experts or to obtain ‘migration packages’ in their country of origin. Rafael for instance, trusted in a recruitment agency he found through a newspaper and which eventually persuaded him into thinking that this was a more secure way to travel. Rafael recounted: “I already wanted to come to Canada. I had planned it. I was going to arrive with friends of friends of mine… but suddenly, I saw an agency ad in the paper, which said: ‘Do you want to work? Do you want to migrate to Canada?’ So I went there. You go to the agency and they tell you about the jobs. Everything comes out to $3,500.” (Rafael) As highlighted in Case Study 1, this was a ghost recruitment agency that did not offer Rafael any of the things it promised once he arrived. Similarly, Mariana and her family spoke to an immigration consultant in their country of origin who offered a free consultation session about the immigration process in Canada. Mariana noted: “There was this person on TV who said he could get you work permits, Canadian papers and so on… They [my family members] went to talk to him but… he charged a lot of money.”(Mariana) Mariana later noted that immigration consultants usually provide free one-time consultations as a strategy to gain the trust of interested migrants, and it is common for consultants to work with a broader network of smugglers who charge lucrative fees for getting people to Canada once they agree to work with them. It is also important to point out that ‘expert consultants’ also frequently mislead migrants into believing that obtaining legal status in Canada would be an easy, straightforward process. When asked to provide a message to the general audience through her body map, Valeria included the following recommendation: “Migrants should get information when they arrive to Canada. I did things wrong for lack of information”. When Valeria first arrived, she assumed that the best way to obtain Canadian residency was to get a job and later apply for landed immigrant status. In her mind, it made perfect sense that those who were already employed would be excellent candidates to become permanent residents and later citizens. Clearly, Valeria had a flawed understanding of how the immigration system really worked in Canada (e.g. applying from abroad, need for higher education to achieve points, etc). The use and cost of smuggling networks to come to Canada have also been highly impacted by increased border security measures which make it difficult for individuals to come without any assistance. Extra smuggling fees were often imposed against the will of participants which blurs the line between smuggling and coercive forms of human trafficking. For instance, Fabio agreed to pay an organized network of smugglers a set fee to obtain a Canadian work permit, 26 | Latin American Encounters


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but then found out that the smugglers were assisting other migrants by providing fraudulent documentation. Although Fabio was able to enter Canada with a valid tourist visa, he was forced to pay his smugglers more money due to unexpected costs trying to smuggle the other migrants. Fabio explained: “He got me a visa for 10 days... By the time I met him to start the trip, I realized there were 19 other people (...). Five out of 20 people had a real passport [with a visa], like me. (…) The other 15, all forged... But the amount he charged wasn’t the same [for everyone] (...) those with the fake passports paid around ten thousand American dollars. In the end, he charged me a bit more, five thousand dollars. It was supposed to be two thousand but he tricked me, as the trip progressed [they passed by more than one country] he kept changing [the amount].” (Fabio) While these examples highlight the potential profits made as a single undocumented worker comes to Canada, it should also be noted that several participants in our study experienced “back and forth” migration to Canada and within Canada, highlighting the multiplier effect on profits made by circuitous migration and secondary migration patterns. Particularly evident upon undocumented workers’ arrival to Canada is that the undocumented migration industry can be further expanded to include legitimate businesses in Canada that thrive off the provision of services or goods related to migrants’ everyday needs. For instance, several participants described purchasing private travel insurance, opening up bank accounts, enroling in private English classes costing over $3000 per term, paying hefty service charges to cash-transfer businesses to send bi-weekly or monthly remittances back home. With respect to everyday living costs, all participants used Toronto’s public transportation system (some often purchasing monthly metropasses), paid rent to local residents, and maintained cell phone accounts with major Canadian service providers. The Canadian government also profits from this underground economy because undocumented workers pay taxes on purchased goods, a few pay income taxes using other people’s social insurance number, but do not use services, paying out-of-pocket fees for essential health and social services. Interestingly, these forms of economic contribution often go unnoticed and are typically overshadowed by conservative practices, policies and national debates which devolve into a discourse of loss; that undocumented workers are a burden to social safety nets, that they take away jobs, and that they abuse health systems.

The “American Dream” is stronger than the border Globalization has generated an increase in worker migration worldwide which has been sustained by widening socio-economic gaps between nations and a concomitant rise in contingent work which now characterizes the global state of the economy. In Canada, the conscious decision to curtail irregular work migration has been largely devoid of discussions about workers’ individual agency, thereby gravely underestimating their capacity and resourcefulness to affect their own social and economic livelihoods in the face of highly conservative politics. For the majority of participants we interviewed, migrating to Canada was seen as a gateway to opportunity, a chance to realize the “American dream”. Canada in this regard, has been skilfully constructed by returning migrants and others alike as a place where freedom and Latin American Encounters | 27


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economic prosperity are possible. As Emiliano noted: “We had these friends who used to tell us over there [country] about life here and no immigrant wants to tell a life of failure. So they always tell you this fairy tale of wonders and you swallow it, even though you have been to other countries… you swallow it because you want it to be true, right?” (Emiliano) It is within these deeply entrenched beliefs and hopes for a better life in the ‘First World’, that workers overlook the potential hardships of migration and find the means to keep coming. For women in particular, coming to Canada offers a sense of opportunity, usually not afforded to women in their home country. As Elizabeth noted: “because I am a woman, here the doors are more open. Here, there isn’t as much discrimination as there is in [country]; even to get a job, I noticed that. If someone was black or [different], they wouldn’t read their resume. They would simply throw it in the trash” (Elizabeth) Migrating to Canada and staying at whatever cost, is also sustained by the promise of fulfilling material goals and aspirations that would be impossible to attain back home. For some participants, this included the purchase of a home in their country of origin. For others, it included paying off debt, paying their children’s primary or higher education, saving enough money to open a business or pay for their own tuition when they returned. One worker spoke about having saved over thirty thousand dollars in 3 years while making less than $13 an hour. In almost all cases, participants realized the multiplier effect of earning Canadian wages after converting it to their local currency back home, and this often prolonged workers’ intended stay in Canada. As Roberto noted: “I am able to recover $300 dollars in three days here, maybe in a week if you want, but this is because I am here. There is a big difference. [If I spent] $300 dollars [in my home country] I’d lose it and never get it back. That is my point of reference, and that’s the reason why I am still here.” (Roberto) Similarly, when asked to compare the work she did back home to her current work in Canada, Valeria noted: “They are different only in financial terms, right?... Because in [country] you work and you get paid in [local currency] (...) I used to work a lot there too, but here I work a lot and I get paid in dollars. So, since the dollar is worth much more than [local currency], you can get ahead [and] buy the things you need. It’s like... I’m working so I will buy things now, because if tomorrowI stop working I already have these things I wanted.” (Valeria) Workers also described how, overtime, their families began to depend on regular remittances to sustain their improved lifestyles back home. For instance, the children of undocumented workers were able to attend better quality schools, enroll in paid extracurricular activities, attend private universities, and families were finally able to afford gravely needed health care. Therefore, the decision to go back home, particularly for undocumented men supporting their 28 | Latin American Encounters


The Creation of a Mobile Workforce: Latin American Undocumented Workers in the Greater Toronto Area

families, had to be carefully balanced against the potential loss of their family’s improved quality of life. As Roberto explained: “The quality of life my son has, the education… I mean, it is very difficult. I know that the price I am paying is very high… being apart. I know I am missing out on the best years of my child’s life… but I know that one day I am going to sit with my child and we are going to talk, and I am going to tell him the cause, the motivation, the reason I couldn’t be with him all this time.” (Roberto) Imposing visa restrictions on migrant-sending countries, and thereby making migration more difficult, dangerous, and expensive to travel back and forth, has also ‘locked’ workers in Canada for longer periods than anticipated or wanted. For Julio, this has meant living in Canada for over 9 years without being able to travel to his home country. For others, like Fabio, it has meant forfeiting milestone celebrations with his children in order to meet ‘all or nothing’ remittance obligations given that migration to Canada often presents itself as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is either too costly, too dangerous, or too logistically impossible to repeat. Yet most participants agreed that harsher immigration controls and visa restrictions would only push migrants to find new, and most likely, more dangerous, ways to travel or meet visa requirements. Some alluded to higher smuggling fees being imposed in some countries and others spoke about the rise of trafficking networks. Emiliano also pointed to the power of established social networks in making continued migration possible, even after a recent visa requirement was imposed on his home country: “I am not afraid of the visa. I think I can get it. I am sure of this because I have many contacts in my home country who could give me a hand to get a Canadian visa… I have a friend here who could invite me to come, right? Whatever the rules they want to set for us, it doesn’t matter. I’ll come. I’ll comply. It doesn’t matter.” (Emiliano) In addition to the goals, aspirations, and new found responsibilities that motivated people to come and stay, and the visa restrictions that make it impossible to leave once they are here, participants also described a sense of pride in not going back home until they had accomplished what they came to do. For instance, Elena constantly extended her return date, and when we asked her why she still remained in Canada, she described: “I could already picture myself there… But then I started thinking and saying to myself: ‘When you left [your home country] you said, ‘I am going to Canada to learn English and I will come back having learned how to speak English’. You left and now you are going back with no money and with no English”. So, it’s because of personal pride that I am still here, not because I am stubborn...but rather, because this process has already been too painful and has cost me a lot. This is the last push. I only need to feel satisfied… if it was already so painful and I was able to handle it, I know I can hold on for a few more months...” (Elena) Similarly, when we asked Julio why he was still in Canada after so many years, he responded: “One time in my home country I was assaulted and almost killed. But that wasn’t my day to die. This is why I believe in destiny. When you’ve accomplished your goals, then Latin American Encounters | 29


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you are ready to go” (Julio) As shown by these cases, several participants were propelled to stay in Canada to satisfy their own dignity and self-worth. They wanted to feel like “they had made it” before they left, and that the sacrifices they endured were indeed worth it. Conversely, there were also sentiments of shame and loss among workers who were planning to go back to their home countries because they “had not made it”. For instance, when asked how she felt about her migration experience to Canada, Mariana described: “It has been very hard. Maybe it was worth it –speaking for my parents – since they now have a chance to buy a house [back home]… In my case, maybe it has been the less productive of cases. Maybe we wasted a lot of time.” (Mariana)

When Canada becomes home and home becomes nothing to go back to Particularly for those who had lived in Canada longer or who had escaped personal violence, there was a strong personal attachment to Canada which strongly impacted their reason for staying, even if this meant having limited social protections and entitlements. For instance, when participants were asked where they felt their body, their heart and their mind was relative to their countries of origin, several called Canada “home”, and one participant said, “I’m 100% in Canada today”. Therefore, for many participants, the opportunity to come to Canada was much more than a chance to gain material things, or improve the livelihoods of the ones they loved back home, it was about a search for belonging and creating anew what had been lost. Participants also tended to migrate from Latin American countries with limited democratic, social and economic participation and some with fragile political systems, with little enforcement capacity to protect citizens from violence and crime. As Rafael’s Case Study revealed, his economic migration to Canada was closely linked to systemic violence in his country of origin, and when asked if he would go back, his response indicated a sense of emotional detachment and disappointment with what “back home” had become: “There is no future in my country. I mean, it is very dangerous. There are no jobs. There is NOTHING. Going back means ending up involved in drug trafficking, kidnapping. The country has really been ruined- there is a very bad economic crisis and there is lots of drug trafficking, murder, and death. Given that I have an opportunity to be here, I am trying to make the most of it. I ask God alot, I ask Him to let me be here, to let me stay here. My future involves me trying to stay here until I get my papers.” (Rafael) Similarly, for Renata Canada became a place of refuge from sexual violence, economic and political uncertainty. But more than just a safe haven from a place where she “couldn’t live freely”, Canada became her home. When pressured with the decision to leave once they were given a deportation order or to stay and live underground, Renata described: “I used to say [to my partner]: “Let’s go back!” But at the same time, we already had strong connections with the community. We felt ‘at home’. We had our church... So it wasn’t easy to leave that behind. We did leave a big part of what we had 30 | Latin American Encounters


The Creation of a Mobile Workforce: Latin American Undocumented Workers in the Greater Toronto Area

accomplished, but we said we didn’t want to give up the other piece that was also so special to us”. (Renata) When combined, factors such as the availability of jobs in the cash economy, currency exchange rate that allows for supporting family members or acquiring a house, living in a place without systemic violence, and experiencing the solidarity of fellow church members, employers or coworkers, can create an entanglement of structural conditions, social and personal circumstances, and subjective desires (e.g. explore the world, learn languages, fulfil the ‘American dream’) that produce and maintain undocumented work migration.

Final Remarks This study was conducted primarily to document the working and living circumstances (i.e. the social determinants of health) of undocumented workers in the GTA to provide evidence for academic and social dialogue. While we know several structural, policy, and practice changes are required internationally and in Canada to warrant both decent work and supportive social conditions for this group of workers, we recognize that this is a complex and sensitive issue, making it difficult to propose a single course of action to address current exploitative circumstances. In the following table we list key ideas people should keep in mind when discussing the issue of undocumentedness. We do so subscribing to international agendas put forward by the United Nations, the International Labour Organization, and PICUM – Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants.

Table 5 Key messages for discussing undocumentedness • The fast movement of capital around the globe requires a mobile, flexible workforce. If goods and capital may migrate freely across boundaries, why are obstacles placed on the movement of people? Presently, workers’ migration is an unstoppable trend • We need to rethink the relationship between human rights and citizenship. Migrant workers should be considered occupational citizens • Current economic globalization patterns have created profound inequities for migrant workers mainly due to the restrictions faced by the international labour movement and the lack of social protection which is offered exclusively to citizens of receiving countries • Most economists see positive economic effects for the countries receiving undocumented workers • National governments have not been able to offer legal solutions to this new social phenomenon and mainly opt to criminalize these foreign workers • Migrants come to work in Canada because jobs are available and/or because they have been targeted and recruited by Canadian employers abroad • While some fall out of status as a consequence of rigid immigration rules, most Latin American Encounters | 31


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find work due to the availability of cash economy jobs • The cash or informal economy plays a central role in the maintenance of undocumentedness and promotes undocumented work even for those groups with regular immigration status • Undocumented workers do mainly 3-D jobs (dirty, dangerous, and degrading) • Canadians and foreigners who have committed crimes in Canada are not denied access to health care, but people who are criminalized as “illegal” migrants do not have access to preventive and curative health care in Canada, despite their contribution to the economy • Living in social isolation, fear, and without social protections has severe health consequences

References Carrillo, H. (2004). Sexual migration, cross-cultural sexual encounters, and sexual health. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 1(3), 58-70. Gastaldo, D., Magalhães, L., Carrasco, C., and Davy, C. (2012). Body-Map Storytelling as Research: Methodological considerations for telling the stories of undocumented workers through body mapping. Retrieved from http://www.migrationhealth.ca/ undocumented-workers-ontario/body-mapping Langevin, L., & Belleau, M. (2002). Trafficking in Women in Canada: A Critical Analysis of The Legal Framework Governing Immigrant Live-in Caregivers and Mail-Order Brides. Ottawa: Status of Women Canada. Papademetriou, D. G. (2005). The Global Struggle with Illegal Migration: No End in Sight. Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from http://www.migrationinformation.org/feature/ display.cfm?ID=336 Salt, J., & Stein, J. (1997). Migration as a Business: The Case of Trafficking. International Migration, 35(4), 467-494. Timoshkina, N. (2011). Sex Trafficking of Women to Canada: Results from a Qualitative Metasynthesis of Empirical Research. Paper presented at the Centre for Criminology Lecture Series on April 8, 2011. UNDESA. (2008). Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2008 Revision. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA). Retrieved from http://esa.un.org/ migration/index.asp?panel=1

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ARTICLES ARTICULOS


Spring / Primavera 2013 | Volume 1 | Issue 1

LATIN AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS

Prólogo a La guerra de los 36 años, vista con ojos de mujer de izquierda1 Juan Duchesne Winter2 - Universidad de Pittsburgh

En Guatemala se vivió una guerra social y política, con visos de guerra civil, desde 1960 hasta 1996. La literatura sobre ese evento ha ido creciendo, especialmente tras la firma de los acuerdos de paz que cerraron el largo ciclo de enfrentamientos armados. Las perspectivas históricas, políticas, y existenciales sobre tan cruento trance se multiplican. Académicos, periodistas, políticos, literatos y protagonistas de los sucesos han aportado sus interpretaciones y testimonios de la violencia desatada. Y en este rico escenario de consignación de la experiencia colectiva e individual aparece Chiqui Ramírez con La guerra de los 36 años, vista con ojos de mujer de izquierda, cuya tercera edición tengo el gusto de prologar en estas líneas (con mi visión de hombre extranjero de izquierda). Lo primero que quiero decirle al lector o lectora es que tiene en sus manos un libro singular sobre el tema, con una mirada muy especial, que para nada se trata de un libro más sobre un tema que ha consumido mucha tinta. ¿Qué tiene de especial La guerra de los 36 años , vista con ojos de mujer de izquierda? Una serie de aportaciones nuevas y singulares distingue esta obra, en particular la tercera edición, significativamente aumentada, que nos concierne ahora. Para empezar, Chiqui Ramírez ha sido capaz de entregarnos un trabajo que cumple literalmente con lo que promete el título. Ella elabora, articula, crea una perspectiva de mujer de izquierda sin pretender que basta el mero hecho de ser mujer y de asumir una posición en el espectro político para garantizar tal perspectiva, como si la misma cuajara automáticamente al proclamarse una identidad dada. Chiqui Ramírez no presume simplemente que es una mujer guerrillera y ya; ella deviene mujer y guerrillera articulando para nosotros un pensamiento de lo que eso significa, basado no sólo en su vivencia, sino en el análisis de esa vivencia, transformándola en experiencia comunicada, y por tanto, social, gracias a su dominio de las artes del lenguaje. La autora ni siquiera presume que su participación en la militancia armada le brinda acceso automático garantizado a la versión genuina y adecuada de los hechos. Ella se gana su punto de vista, lo conquista y arma cuidadosamente, presentándonos una delicada textura de memorias personales, referencias históricas, datos, diálogos, citas, digresiones aclaratorias, fotos, reportes, informes, reconstrucciones novelescas, análisis políticos y militares, reflexiones, síntesis, ideas y dramas íntimos. Del producto resultante se puede decir lo mejor que se puede decir hoy día de un libro: es interesante, nos habla a nosotros, nos dice algo nuevo y nos llena la cabeza de preguntas. En lo que a la experiencia latinoamericana de la guerrilla y la lucha revolucionaria en general se refiere, esta obra de Chiqui Ramírez destaca junto a otros abordajes del tema realizados por mujeres guerrilleras, como el de María Eugenia Vázquez Perdomo, Escrito para no morir, sobre su militancia en el M-16 en Colombia. Destacan ellas por alcanzar una perspectiva muy crítica, muy escéptica y al mismo tiempo, amorosamente afirmativa, leal y comprometida con 1 Este prólogo ha sido reproducido con el permiso de Chiqui Ramírez, autor de La guerra de los 36 años, vista con ojos de mujer de izquierda. 2 Juan Duchesne-Winter es Profesor de literatura Latinoamericana de la Universidad de Pittsburgh. Duchesne-Winter es autor de varios libros y esta afiliado al Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos de la Universidad de Pittsburgh, es miembro de LASA y colabora con el Centro de Investigación de Política Pública en San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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Prólogo a La guerra de los 36 años, vista con ojos de mujer de izquierda

las luchas y resistencias insurgentes de su época. No es frecuente esta conjunción de actitudes en los testimonios de hombres militantes, que tienden a deslindarse mucho más por la apología o el arrepentimiento, por el mito o la denegación del acontecimiento. Escritoras como Ramírez y Vázquez han sabido examinar descarnadamente la humanidad de las gestas que protagonizaron, con todas sus caídas, ridiculeces, mezquindades, debilidades, hipocresías y mediocridades, y calibrar al mismo tiempo la soberanía de la voluntad, la abnegación, la generosidad, el desprendimiento, el sacrificio, la inteligencia y el talento que las presidió en no pocas instancias. La lúcida actitud crítica de estas cronistas-combatientes se expresa sin culpa y sin arrepentimiento; sino más bien con gran compromiso y afirmación del acontecimiento que definió sus vidas. En este sentido se despegan en mayor medida que la generalidad de sus pares masculinos del expediente judeocristiano de la violencia culpable (atribuida siempre, por supuesto, al oprimido, mientras que al opresor se le concede “la fuerza de la ley” eximida de toda culpa). La perspectiva así construida en el texto de Chiqui Ramírez es pródiga en aportaciones poco frecuentes en el campo letrado y académico que suele regentear la tarea de recuperación histórica. Dado que al escribir desde su praxis de mujer, en el sentido de asumir la feminidad como posición política en-resistencia, ella desdeña la autoridad letrada (patriarcal por definición) y su consiguiente jerarquía de los géneros del discurso y el lenguaje, logrando así dar con un estilo flexible, preciso y culto pero también enriquecido por coloquialismos guatemaltecos, que modula diferentes registros humorísticos, dramáticos y pedagógicos. Esa misma gramática creativa se refleja en la organización del libro a manera de un documental fílmico, basado más en la técnica del montaje libre que en la subordinación conceptual. La verdad es que este montaje tipo álbum le da fluidez a la lectura y contribuye a su disfrute. El lector o lectora no se siente constreñido por una secuencia cronológica ni un ordenamiento de tipo deductivo o inductivo, pues las distintas secciones se organizan como focos de atención bastante autónomos basados en afectos, intensidades, y asociaciones libres entre los temas y los acontecimientos —todo esto manteniendo unas coordenadas básicas y claras de la cronología y las relaciones entre los eventos fundamentales. Ni el letrado ni el académico convencional se atreverían a escribir con la libertad que lo hace la autora de La guerra de los 36 años, vista con ojos de mujer de izquierda. Ella realmente escribe como le place, y ello le place mucho a sus lectores, dicho sea. Aquí, querido lector, encontrarás frescas descripciones, a manera de estampas, de los antepasados, la niñez y la adolescencia de esta mujer que devino militante comunista y luego combatiente de la resistencia urbana en los sesentas. Hay fotos de los personajes. Semblanzas. Anécdotas sin par. También resúmenes históricos, citas de titulares de periódicos. Secciones de datos. Listas de nombres. Todo ello recrea un ambiente, una estructura sentimental de época. Y también profundiza en los niveles más complejos de la política, que van a la raíz de las personas, los afectos y sus ramificaciones colectivas. Se revelan cosas que el acartonamiento sociológico, por ejemplo, ni siquiera atisbaría. Hallarás, también, estimada lectora, episodios vívidos donde la narradora expone, en tercera persona, como si fuera ficción, pero sin serlo, la densidad cotidiana de la militancia armada y lo que ésta exige y obtiene de una mujer afirmativa, incluyendo la reorganización de sus afectos, su cuerpo y su deseo, en un medio donde las relaciones ordinarias de género se suspenden en Latin American Encounters | 35


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función de la dinámica de la guerra revolucionaria. Y se apunta cómo todo ello libera a la mujer de la moralidad burguesa, pero sólo hasta el punto en que tal moralidad se reinserta viciosamente por otros recovecos de las relaciones humanas de poder, todavía sometidos al dominio patriarcal, dentro de las propias organizaciones revolucionarias —algo que la narradora, como verás, apreciado narrador, señala y critica en detalle. Estimarás, además, lector, no sólo una denuncia lúcida y clara de la ferocidad criminal con que el estado contrainsurgente de la oligarquía guatemalteca reprimió los impulsos de democratización social de todo un pueblo, llegando a los extremos del genocidio estratégico del campesinado maya, asesorado por Estados Unidos, sino que también hallarás finos análisis políticos y militares donde se argumenta, por ejemplo, cómo el proyecto revolucionario guatemalteco fue suspendido, o más bien cancelado, en complicidad con gran parte de la dirección guerrillera, respondiendo a los cálculos geopolíticos de la Unión Soviética, Cuba y la Nicaragua sandinista. La autora, dada su postura inquisitiva y crítica, pudo captar señales evidentes de dicha trama de paulatina autoliquidación del movimiento insurreccional que nunca fue discutida con las bases militantes ni populares. En este contexto cobran pertinencia los relatos y reflexiones sobre cómo ella sufrió una relativa marginación dentro del movimiento en general, que se extendió al trato que recibió de los primeros gobiernos revolucionarios latinoamericanos modernos, en Cuba y Nicaragua. Expone con franqueza su experiencia negativa como beneficiaria de la solidaridad revolucionaria en Cuba. Es reconocido el papel crucial que jugó Cuba como retaguardia de las insurgencias y militancias revolucionarias latinoamericanas del siglo veinte. Pocos discuten esa ya proverbial gesta de solidaridad en el plano humano. Pero Chiqui es capaz de señalar contradicciones que responden a la razón geopolítica del estado cubano y al influjo pernicioso del legado estalinista soviético y el caudillismo hispano-criollo en ese proceso. Ella analiza cómo los privilegios (adversos a la ética igualitaria) otorgados a los militantes extranjeros resguardados en la retaguardia isleña se prestaron para afianzar el dirigismo cubano sobre los movimientos latinoamericanos. Declara cómo el negarse a vivir esa vida de delegado privilegiado le comportó a ella la marginación política y social en los medios de izquierda vinculados a la isla, incluyendo a los de su país y los de Nicaragua. Apreciarás, en fin, lectora atenta, cómo la autora sustenta implícitamente una teoría de la dinámica organizativa revolucionaria que exige resolver la tensión casi inevitable creada entre una dirección que persigue, por naturaleza, perpetuarse y las bases populares de donde provienen portentosas acciones de valentía, inteligencia, generosidad, amor, y voluntad de lucha en situaciones tan álgidas como la que atravesó Guatemala durante la segunda mitad del siglo veinte. Apreciarás el verbo sin trabas de una autora y militante que denuncia la mediocridad de gran parte de la comandancia guerrillera y ensalza a su vez la heroicidad de incontables hombres y mujeres de su pueblo en lucha. Y notarás que se logra comunicar y demostrar todo esto a partir de la documentación de los hechos, de los sentimientos, las sensaciones y las emociones, acompañados del análisis y la reflexión, con una flexibilidad y libertad que posiblemente se deban a la manera en que la autora asume la experiencia de mujer como vía de profundización política en las relaciones humanas, para convertirla en modo integral del conocimiento. Los detalles y los ejemplos de lo que acabo de aseverar sobran aquí, pues nadie los puede presentar mejor que el singular libro que el lector tiene en sus manos. 36 | Latin American Encounters


Spring / Primavera 2013 | Volume 1 | Issue 1

LATIN AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS

La Soledad como Leitmotif en la Poética de Jaime Sabines Lidia Valencia Fourcans1

ABSTRACT This study focuses on solitude as a leitmotif in the poetic work of Jaime Sabines (1926 – 1999). The implications of solitude are expressed implicitly and explicitly in the images and metaphors of Sabines’s poetry. Through close examination of this leitmotif it is possible to demonstrate that the leitmotif of solitude is fundamental to the construction of Sabines’s creative identity as well as being the very foundation of his poetic expression. This leitmotif constitutes an important part of the dialogue that the lyric subject has with the reader. Moreover, it helps to construct a unique discourse that subverts the hegemonic and conventional nature of representation of cultural practices such as religion, marriage, education and death. In order to complete this study, I intend to analyze chronologically the following five books of Sabines’s poetry: Horal (1950), La Señal (1951), Adán y Eva (1952), Tarumba (1956) and Yuria (1967).

Jaime Sabines (1926 – 1999) conmueve al lector con su “palabra viva” porque con ella esboza los rasgos más íntimos de la sensibilidad humana. Con una retórica desnuda y apasionada, el poeta nos revela en metáforas su visión del mundo. Diestro en el manejo del sentido eurítmico y de una lírica en la que las imágenes exaltan los sentidos, crea una poética corpórea y humana. Sabines sabe que la única poesía que persiste en el tiempo es aquella que se escribe desde el corazón, por eso desde ahí escribe sobre la vida, con todos sus matices y altibajos. El poeta establece una fuerte conexión con la sensibilidad popular porque con sus palabras describe una experiencia que nos atañe a todos. El toque de ironía en su poesía a ratos alcanza el tono de la tragicomedia: “chupas de la botella de la muerte/ y me dices ¡salud! entre hipo e hipo” (Sabines, Recuento de poemas 149). Luis Eduardo Rivera en “Jaime Sabines: el estilo como instinto” menciona que la expresión peculiar y el estilo de Sabines ha penetrado en la idiosincrasia del mexicano por su sentido tragicómico de la vida, que se encuentra en todos los ámbitos de la cultura mestiza, por ejemplo, las calaveras de Día de Muertos, los boleros, los corridos, el cine, etc. (Recopilado en Mansour 288). La poética sabiniana se asemeja a un diario expresado mediante la construcción de un alterego como en Tarumba (1956), o a través de un sujeto lírico emotivamente profundo. Mediante su poesía el poeta nos adentra a su visión del mundo. No sólo la visión del Sabines poeta sino también la del Sabines humano. El poeta se identifica con la voz implícita del “yo” lírico de sus poemas: “esa primera persona soy yo y supongo que también cualquier hombre por el que 1 Lidia Valencia Fourcans holds a B.A. in English literature from the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico and an M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of Guelph. She is currently pursuing graduate studies at the Department of Geography, University of Guelph. Lidia has taught contemporary literature, textual analysis and theory of translation at the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos and The Alzate University, Mexico. She is also a registered English-Spanish Translator with specialization in Literary and Legal translation. Her main areas of interest and research are Latin American Culture and Identity, Gender and Development Studies, Contemporary Latin American Philosophy and Thought, Modern Latin American and Spanish-American Literature, Economic Geography and Consumption Geographies.

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tomo la palabra” (Citado en Mansour 382). El sujeto lírico de la poesía sabiniana encarna al hijo que deja la provincia y a su familia para seguir su propio camino solo en la gran ciudad: “uno es el hombre que anda por la tierra y descubre […] a la rama del árbol, / al río, a la ciudad, / al sueño, a la esperanza y a la espera” (Sabines, Recuento 25). Ya en la ciudad es quien nos describe: “las noches de exacta soledad – maldita y arruinada soledad sin uno mismo-” (11). El “yo” lírico establece un diálogo con el lector y le confiesa, como a un amigo, su nostalgia por el amor que dejó en la provincia: “Sitio de amor, lugar en que he vivido de lejos, tú, ignorada, amada que he callado, mirada que no he visto, mentira que me dije y no he creído. […] A llanto, amor y muerte nos quisimos” (26). El actante de los poemas de Sabines es el hombre solitario que se apoya en un Dios que sabe ausente: “Quiero apoyar mi cabeza en tus manos, Señor del humo, sombra, quiero apoyar mi corazón” (57). En la poética sabiniana germina una particular perspectiva nihilista, en la que concibe que no hay “nada” que sustente al hombre: ni Dios ni fundamento alguno; sólo el hombre. Sabines nos muestra en sus poemas que: “la poesía no es más que un testimonio del hombre, de sus días sobre la tierra” (Citado en Mansour 382). Mediante el análisis puntual de su testimonio lírico concluyo que la soledad es una parte fundamental de su identidad creativa y su expresión poética. La soledad se presenta acompañada de otros leitmotifs que conforman el mosaico temático de la poética sabiniana. En Horal (1950) el sujeto lírico de los poemas encuentra en la escritura un resguardo de la soledad. En este poemario se marcan los inicios del ciclo de soledad, similar al ciclo biológico inherente al ser humano, que se vislumbrará a lo largo de su obra. También es aquí donde se plantea el conflicto interior entre el agnosticismo y la necesidad de creer en Dios y lo sagrado, para rehuir a la soledad. El hombre agnóstico está solo porque desconoce a Dios, está dejado de su mano divina. Este planteamiento es una de las varias rupturas entre la visión de Sabines del mundo y el discurso hegemónico. En 1950, la influencia católica imperaba en la sociedad mexicana pese al aún latente patriotismo postrevolucionario y la vigente secularización de la educación. El agnosticismo y el ateísmo se seguían “satanizando”, y cualquier discurso opuesto al de la iglesia se concebía como una transgresión al orden moral. Sin embargo, Sabines mediante la poesía expresó su voz subversiva: “¡Qué hermosa palabra ‘Dios’, larga/ y útil al miedo, salvadora!/ aprendamos a cerrar los labios del corazón/ cuando quiera decirla, / y enseñémosle a vivir en su sangre, / a revolcarse en su sangre limitada” (Recuento 258-259). Los leitmotifs de Dios y lo sagrado encuentran su cauce y van evolucionando a lo largo de la poética sabiniana, pero la condición de soledad del hombre dejado de la mano de Dios y el cuestionamiento al discurso prestablecido por la tradición religiosa prevalece en toda su obra: “Me encanta Dios. Es un viejo magnífico que no se toma en serio. / A él le gusta jugar y juega, / y a veces se le pasa la mano y nos rompe una mano o nos aplasta definitivamente” (421). Sabines afirma en una entrevista que el poema de “Los amorosos” fue, en su momento, como un vaticinio de los temas esenciales de su poesía: el amor, la soledad, la presencia de la muerte y el amor a la vida (Los amorosos). En este poema se cimienta el reconocimiento de la condición inherente de soledad del hombre expresada desde otra perspectiva: la pareja y el amor. Sabines deja ver que al vivir en pareja el hombre está más consciente de sí mismo, de sus limitaciones y carencias, no sólo para complementar a otro ser humano sino incluso para sentirse completo dentro de su propia individualidad. En esa misma entrevista para Canal 22 38 | Latin American Encounters


La Soledad como Leitmotif en la Poética de Jaime Sabines

dice que todos los temas que toca en “Los amorosos” insisten en toda su vida poética y que: “reconcentran la soledad, que hablan de la soledad del hombre y […] de ese amor que perpetuamente tiene que ser renovado a través de una mujer y de otra, a través de un hijo y otro, a través de una soledad y de otra soledad” (Los amorosos). El planteamiento que hace el poeta sobre el amor subvierte el orden social tradicional porque desestabiliza la visión conservadora del matrimonio. Plasma en su poesía la concepción del amor frágil e impredecible, opuesto a la idea del amor eterno y la unión estable. Sugiere que el amor es la unión de dos soledades, dos individuos cómplices en su soledad. El amor para Sabines es libre y finito. Octavio Paz afirma que la sociedad mexicana conservadora, en ese momento histórico, concebía el amor como el elemento base de una unión estable que únicamente podía ser validada mediante la institución del matrimonio, y cuyo fin último era crear hijos. La sanción por la transgresión de esa regla variaba según el tiempo y el espacio. Paz agrega: La estabilidad de la familia reposa en el matrimonio, que se convierte en una mera proyección de la sociedad, sin otro objeto que la recreación de esa misma sociedad. De ahí la naturaleza profundamente conservadora del matrimonio. Atacarlo, es disolver las bases mismas de la sociedad. Y de ahí que el amor sea, sin proponérselo, un acto antisocial, pues cada vez que logra realizarse, quebranta el matrimonio y lo convierte en lo que la sociedad no quiere que sea: la revelación de dos soledades, que crean por sí mismas un mundo que rompe la mentira social (Paz, El laberinto de la soledad 179). Sabines subvierte el discurso hegemónico de la sociedad conservadora y la iglesia al revelar la condición de soledad de la pareja y la lasitud del amor. Sin embargo, en su momento los críticos no lo interpretaron como una postura subversiva sino que asociaron a los amorosos con los amantes y las pasiones carnales e ilícitas. En Horal (1950), Sabines estableció su estilo poético y el eje temático de su obra. Indudablemente su acuarela ideológica adquirió más colores y matices en concordancia con la experiencia y la evolución creativa del poeta. En La Señal (1951) y Adán y Eva (1952); ahondó en su mirada introspectiva de la experiencia análoga del hombre con la soledad, el solipsismo y la muerte. En La Señal observamos cómo el sujeto lírico formula otra manera de entender la condición de soledad. No es que el hombre de repente se encuentre solo sino que la soledad es parte esencial de la existencia humana. Aquí, a diferencia de en Horal, el sujeto lírico ya no se refugia en la escritura para rehuir de su soledad. En este segundo poemario el “yo” lírico ya ha aceptado su condición de soledad y ahora tiene como menester deconstruir los elementos conceptuales que fundamentan, según la tradición, la negación de la inherente condición de soledad humana. En La Señal Sabines consolida su voz poética y reafirma el eje temático de su obra sin giros conceptuales marcados. La soledad inherente del hombre es la piedra angular de este poemario, aunque los leitmotifs de la muerte, el tiempo, lo sagrado y el amor continúan presentes con un eje semántico propio, ya que cada poema posee su propia autonomía. El indicio subversivo en Horal continúa implícitamente en La Señal, pero sólo en el poemario de Adán y Eva retoma ese hilo conductivo explícitamente, dentro del discurso poético, mediante su recreación del relato bíblico sobre Adán y Eva en el huerto del Edén. Para Sabines es en ese escenario de naturaleza primigenia donde el ser humano Latin American Encounters | 39


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descubre su inherente condición de soledad y su otredad ante todo lo que lo rodea. El relato está enmarcado por la soledad, la ausencia de Dios, el erotismo, y la muerte. Sabines se ayuda de la alegoría para inventar una imagen híbrida, un concepto ecléctico del origen del hombre añadiendo elementos propios sobre su concepción de la esencia humana y sus orígenes. Tarumba (1956) es un poemario sumamente íntimo. El sujeto lírico ahora está casado, va a tener un hijo, es comerciante y vive en la provincia. Los elementos extralingüísticos de los poemas han cambiado pero el leitmotif de la soledad persiste tomando formas más complejas que aluden a la impotencia de no poder escapar del ensimismamiento rutinario. La necesidad de crear un alter ego e incorporar matices llanamente íntimos y descriptivos a sus metáforas se hace aún más evidente que en los poemarios anteriores, hasta el punto en que críticos como Fernández Granados aluden a este poemario como al diario del poeta. Es el libro que confirmaría que la poética sabiniana surge de la experiencia humana. Así –continúa construyendo su discurso subversivo– el sujeto lírico tiene como menester la defensa de su derecho a la individualidad y a querer estar solo. Admite ser parte de una sociedad, tener una familia, pero también se reconoce un sujeto individual cuyos intereses divergen de los de la mayoría que le rodea. La incomprensión y el reconocimiento de su alienación se presentan como otras formas de soledad en este libro, lo cual marca un cambio significativo en la visión del “yo” lírico con respecto a su condición de soledad: “¿Para qué te ha de entender nadie, Tarumba?, / ¿para qué alumbrarte con lo que dices como una hoguera?/ Quema tus huesos y caliéntate” (Sabines, Recuento 144). Empero, el punto cúspide del leitmotif de la soledad se da en el poemario de Yuria (1967). Dicha soledad es aún más dolorosa, enfermiza y mortal. En este libro, más que en los poemarios anteriores, la intención implícita del poeta de desmitificar y subvertir el idealismo anidado en sentimientos como el amor, Dios o la muerte se intensifica. El sujeto lírico ya no rehúye a la soledad como en el pasado, acepta la oquedad del presente y vislumbra en su futuro sólo la oscura sombra de la muerte. La soledad se torna existencial e irrumpe en el subconsciente del “yo” lírico expresándose como angustia y muerte. El sujeto lírico no sólo está consciente de su condición de soledad sino que vive abatido por la angustia de vivir. La experiencia vívida de la soledad expresada en los primeros poemarios de Sabines era apenas un atisbo al padecimiento existencial que se revelaría en este libro. En suma, los poemarios de Sabines son el recorrido de una forma de soledad a otra porque él concibe a la poesía como: “un puente que tendemos entre una soledad y otra” (Los amorosos). Según Sabines, escribir rompe el ciclo de soledad, es un momento de comunión con la gente y la vida: El hecho de escribir es ya el hecho de romper esa soledad; ese instante en que usted escribe es un instante de comunión con las personas y con la vida. Hasta con los muebles y las cosas. Escribir es el verdadero sentido de la vida […] Escribir me ayudó a salir de mi soledad (Cruz). La soledad es el alfa y el omega de la poética sabiniana; encamina el paso del hombre por el mundo, y la poesía es su destino. Tengo las páginas para escribir, tengo el silencio, la soledad, el amoroso insomnio […] (Sabines, Recuento de poemas 348). 40 | Latin American Encounters


Spring / Primavera 2013 | Volume 1 | Issue 1

LATIN AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS

Migrant illegalization and transnational precarities in Maya’s Toronto Paloma E. Villegas1

ABSTRACT This paper draws on the poem Toronto, by Jesús Maya, to analyze the production of migrant illegalization for Latin Americans migrating to el Norte. I argue that Toronto allows us to see the complicated workings of migrant illegalization, some of which are transnational in nature. In addition, Toronto demonstrates the fact that migration and immigration status trajectories are not clear cut or linear. Finally, Toronto depicts the ways in which migrants negotiate processes of illegalization by drawing on their personal, affective and transnational connections in search for the ever elusive dream of stability.

Toronto by Jesús Maya Ayer soñé que Pintábamos con Pintura acrílica Azul marino. Soñé que pintábamos, Hacíamos los cortes Rolábamos. Y limpiamos con Windex, Unas gotas que Habían caído al piso De goma. El aroma Me recordó a ti, El letargo del trabajo… Soñaba que ya no estamos en México Y no éramos Ninguno de los 72 asesinados, asesinadas En Tamaulipas.

1 Paloma E. Villegas is a Ph.D. candidate at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT). She has a Master’s degree in Women Studies from San Francisco State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley. Her research analyzes the production of migrant illegalization in relation to race, citizenship and gender. Her dissertation, entitled, “Assembling and (Re)Marking Migrant Illegalization: Mexican Migrants with Precarious Status in Toronto Canada” analyzes the transnational, multiscalar and discursive production of migrant illegalization in relation to Mexican nationals.

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Que nos tocábamos nuestras carnes No éramos parte de los 72, Ni de los 400 que caen todos los años, Ni de los miles que son puntos en el mar, Arizona es sólo una noticia. Soñé que tú y yo cabíamos aquí Que no fuimos plantados en Toronto. Tenemos sangre Lágrimas. Mucho miedo Y también sentimos dolor De ese que no se quita Nunca.

Last night I dreamed that we were painting with navy blue Acrylic paint I dreamed that we were painting cutting in around the edges using a roller to fill in the walls With Windex we cleaned A few drops that had fallen on the rubber floor. The aroma reminded me of you, the exhaustion of the job… I dreamed that we were no longer in Mexico and that we were not among the 72 murdered men and women in Tamaulipas. We searched our bodies for any wounds, relieved That we were not part of those 72 Or the 400 that collapse on the way every year 42 | Latin American Encounters


Migrant illegalization and transnational precarities in Maya’s Toronto

Nor those thousands who are now just specks on the sea. Arizona is only a news story. I dreamed that you and I might actually fit in here, That we weren’t just plopped down in Toronto. We carry this blood wherever we go, These tears All this dread We feel so much pain The kind that doesn’t go away Ever Toronto, by Jesús Maya, maps the physical and emotional experiences that some migrants face when they cross borders. This paper draws on Toronto to discuss one aspect of the migration trajectories of Latin Americans to el Norte: migrant illegalization. I define migrant illegalization as the ensemble of processes that produce migrant subjects as “illegal” in the country of migration (Coutin, 2003; De Genova, 2004; Villegas, 2012a). This involves not only being at risk of deportation, but also having little access to social goods in the country of migration. The processes that lead to migrant illegalization are therefore not only legal in form, although legalities are an important factor. They include other formal and informal mechanisms associated with institutions, state practices, as well as the day-to-day interactions among migrants and non-migrants. These different processes make migrant illegalization an extensive system that is further substantiated by “popular” discourses about migrants. In fact, what we hear in the media, in speeches, and in conversations about “illegal” migrants has the power to influence how we think about migrants. This is the reason why I use the term migrant illegalization. I want to point to the processes that produce ideas (and actions) about migrants with precarious immigration status (Goldring, Berinstein, & Bernhard, 2009) and challenge our use of pejorative and criminalizing terms to describe them. In addition, as I have argued elsewhere (Villegas, 2012a), it is important to also analyze processes of illegalization through a transnational lens. The conditions of insecurity, displacement, and outright violence that lead migrants to emigrate, and to have precarious immigration status in the country of migration, operate across borders. While national processes are important and should not be ignored, I propose that in order to understand migrant illegalization we need to go beyond the perspective of the “host” nation. One reason for this approach is that the conditions that lead people to emigrate, affect their experiences in the country of migration. Toronto alludes to these transnational processes of insecuritization and illegalization through an eloquent depiction of what it means to live with precarious immigration status in Toronto, and what it means to travel to el Norte for many Latin American migrants. Another important point involves the question of teleology (Villegas, 2012b). We often think of migration processes as unidirectional or permanent, leading to improved conditions in the country of migration. In fact, migration processes for a number of us are messy and do not always follow clear spatial and temporal trajectories (Bailey, 2001). Therefore, emigration does Latin American Encounters | 43


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not always lead to immigration and precarious immigration status does not always (or often) lead to more stable forms of status. This means that a number of migrants experience what Bailey et al., (2002) refer to as “permanent temporariness,” or the condition of having precarious immigration status for long periods of time. Toronto begins in the context of arrival, Toronto, Canada, with a dream. In the dream, the narrator works in the construction industry, a common occupation for men (and sometimes women) with precarious status in Canada (Magalhaes, Carrasco, & Gastaldo, 2010). Due to his detailed account of the work, for instance, wiping the paint drops on the floor with Windex, we can deduce that the narrator is familiar with the task and has experience working in this industry when he is awake. In this case, we can see how precarious working conditions invade not only a person’s working hours, but also their time of rest. When we add in immigration status, the situation becomes more complex because of the difficulty migrants with precarious status have in exerting their labor rights in a context where the loss of a job and deportation are ever present possibilities. De Genova (2002) frames this through the concept of deportability, which not only includes the reality of deportation, but also its ever present threat, a threat that allows for the exploitation of migrants with precarious status in the labor force and other arenas. We see the emotional effects of the threat of deportation in the line, “Tenemos sangre / Lágrimas /Mucho Miedo.”2 The poem then makes its first transnational linkage. The narrator is still dreaming, but his dreams shift to news of the precarious conditions migrants experience while they are in transit. More specifically, the poem refers to an incident in 2010 in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, Mexico, when the first 72 of a total of 193 bodies of assassinated migrants were found (“Migrantes”, 2010). This example demonstrates that migration trajectories are not straightforward. For the 193 migrants, as well as those who die in the desert between Mexico and the U.S. and in transit from Central and South America to el Norte every year, the trajectory is preempted by multiple borders and layers of violence. While some eventually “make it,” some do not. The poem makes a clear link between the events in Tamaulipas and that of the construction worker/narrator. The line, “Que nos tocábamos nuestras carnes,”3 signifies the physical act of making sure “we” are still here and that “it” (the violence) did not happen to us. However, as the poem reminds us, having to literally check our corporeal integrity means there is a fine line between precarious status migrants, who may be deported at any time, and migrants in transit. This line points to the extent of the precarities migrants experience both in their travels and once they “arrive” to the country of migration. Thus, even though “we were not them” this time, “we could have been them” and “we could still be them.” The poem returns to Toronto and provides one reason why “we could still be them,” and why the violence migrants experience does not only occur during transit. The line, “Arizona es sólo una noticia”4 points to how although in our dreams we can downplay the effects of immigration policy, however we cannot do so when we are awake. “Arizona” here refers to the passage of SB 1070 in 2010. The law exemplifies one approach in the U.S. in relation to “undocumented” immigration, that of enforcement, deportation and racial profiling. The law has been 2 We carry this blood wherever we go/ These tears /All this dread 3 We searched our bodies for any wounds, relieved 4 Arizona is only a news story.

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heavily criticized because part of its mandate would require police officers to “investigate individuals’ legal status whenever they have ‘reasonable suspicion’ to believe a person who has been stopped, detained or arrested is undocumented” (Johnson, 2012). Returning to the poem, it is important to think about the ways in which racial profiling of migrants operate in other spaces, perhaps in a more subtle way. The situation in Toronto is a lot like Arizona, only without the media attention that surrounded the latter. In Toronto, the police have the right to ask a person about their immigration status and to relay that information to immigration authorities. Police officers are only required not to ask immigration status for victims and witnesses of crimes, and even then, they may ask if they have a “bonafide reason” (Mukherjee, 2008). Toronto therefore alludes to some of the ways in which migrant illegalization is mobilized in Canada: through work, transit and the relationship between the police and immigration enforcement. However, despite these conditions, the poem also speaks of a need for belonging and laying down roots, however precarious. And, this is a painful process. The lines “Y también sentimos dolor/De ese que no se quita nunca” point to the effects that deportability and permanent temporariness have on precarious status migrants. They also point to the ways in which processes of illegalization permeate our feelings, hopes and aspirations. Yet, Toronto reminds us “Que no fuimos plantados en Toronto.” Migrants are not uprooted and re-rooted haphazardly. They often maintain their transnational relationships while also participating in building a life in the country of migration (Basch, Glick Schiller, & Szanton Blanc, 1994). Therefore, the fact that migrants’ roots, histories and knowledges cross borders is also an important contribution of Toronto. It demonstrates a strategy migrants use to pursue the dream of stability.

References Bailey, A. J. (2001). Turning transnational: Notes on the theorisation of international migration. International Journal of Population Geography 7, 413-428. Bailey, A. J., Wright, R. A., Mountz, A., & Miyares, I. M. (2002). (Re)producing Salvadoran transnational geographies. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 92(1), 125-144. Basch, L. G., Glick Schiller, N., & Szanton Blanc, C. (1994). Nations unbound: Transnational projects, postcolonial predicaments, and deterritorialized nation-states. Basel: Gordon and Breach. Coutin, S. B. (2003). Illegality, Borderlands, and the Space of Nonexistence. In R. W. Perry & B. Maurer (Eds.), Globalization under construction : governmentality, law, and identity (pp. 171-202). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. De Genova, N. (2002). Migrant ‘illegality’ and deportability in everyday life. Annual Review of Anthropology, 31, 419-447. De Genova, N. (2004). The Legal Production of Mexican/Migrant “Illegality”. Latino Studies, 2(2), 160-185.

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Goldring, L., Berinstein, C., & Bernhard, J. (2009). Institutionalizing precarious migratory status in Canada. Citizenship Studies, 13(3), 239-265. Johnson, M. (2012). Fuerza!: The Fight Against SB 1070 and the Prison Industry in Arizona Retrieved August 30, 2012, from http://nacla.org/blog/2012/8/14/ fuerza-fights-against-sb-1070-and-prison-industry-arizona Magalhaes, L., Carrasco, C., & Gastaldo, D. (2010). Undocumented Migrants in Canada: A Scope Literature Review on Health, Access to Services, and Working Conditions. Journal of Immigrant Minority Health, 12, 132-151. Migrantes, 72 muertos de fosa en Tamaulipas. (2010) Retrieved August 29, 2012, from http:// www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/704017.html Mukherjee, A. (2008). Victims and witnesses without legal status policy. Toronto: Toronto Police Services Board. Villegas, P. E. (2012a). Assembling and (Re)marking Migrant Illegalization: Mexican Migrants with Precarious Status in Toronto. Doctoral Thesis, OISE/ University of Toronto. Villegas, P. E. (2012b). ‘I can’t even buy a bed because I don’t know if I’ll have to leave tomorrow’: Mexican precarious status migrants in Toronto and their ability to plan for the future. Paper presented at the 14th National Metropolis Conference, Future Immigration Policies: Challenges and Opportunities for Canada, Toronto, Canada.

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EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE TEATRO EXPERIMENTAL


Spring / Primavera 2013 | Volume 1 | Issue 1

LATIN AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS

Laboratorio Teatral “Amigo Imaginario”1

Luis Rojas, Alba Agosto, Jorge Henriquez Ross, Víctor Ordaz, Lorenzo Vargas Mantilla

Pensando en la temporada 2012/2013, Grupo Teatro Libre decidió trabajar en el montaje de la obra Causa y Efecto del dramaturgo uruguayo Rafael Pence. Dicho montaje implica la participación de tres actrices, un actor y el respectivo equipo de trabajo que precisa cualquier puesta en escena. Grupo Teatro Libre cuenta con trece miembros activos más un grupo de colaboradores que se desempeñan según sus habilidades y los requerimientos del proyecto seleccionado; aunque algunos cuentan con roles ya definidos, siempre hay espacio para compartir, aprender y experimentar en cualquiera de las áreas implícitas: actuación, iluminación, escenografía, vestuario, dirección o producción. En respuesta a esta dinámica de trabajo y a la filosofía del grupo, se consideró necesario un proyecto paralelo a Causa y Efecto para mantener en actividad a todos los integrantes, y, al mismo tiempo, enriquecer actoral y técnicamente al grupo. Es así, que de manera colectiva, como todas las decisiones de Grupo Teatro Libre, surge el laboratorio teatral Amigo Imaginario (A.I.). Al igual que cualquier laboratorio teatral, A.I. contó con un proceso. Tomando como eje central a aquel amigo que quizás alguno de nosotros tuvo en la niñez, los miembros interesados se dieron a la tarea de escribir una pequeña historia que fuese el reflejo de sus inquietudes a expresar en escena, siempre con el reto de darle una tesitura dramatúrgica para poder ser representada actoralmente. Paralelo a este proceso creativo, se trabajaron talleres actorales para brindar herramientas a los que debutaban en la actuación, generando un enriquecido intercambio con los que ya tenían una trayectoria. Partiendo de la libertad experimental de un laboratorio, se decidió realizar la presentación en un espacio escénico alternativo, que al no ser un teatro, Casa Maíz se convirtió en el ambiente perfecto para llevar a la audiencia por cinco escenarios diferentes, que con ayuda de los elementos sonoros y de iluminación, el mismo publico fue parte del espectáculo. Para facilitar la proeza de envolver al espectador en este universo y lograr el puente entre cada pequeña obra, fue necesario utilizar un personaje que fungiera como guía de conexión, mismo que llega con su propia historia de inmigrante latinoamericano y valiéndose de una cuarta pared no existente, mantiene la interacción con el espectador entre cada acto. Realizando una evaluación, hemos concluido que el resultado del laboratorio A. I. ha sido de un valor inmensurable. La experiencia lograda y los nuevos conocimientos adquiridos hacen que los temas centrales de estas pequeñas obras estén dentro del marco de la democracia, de la justicia plena, de la solidaridad y del respeto a los derechos humanos; y sobre todo, que el arte, la poesía, la creación y la imaginación sean siempre parte de los objetivos fundamentales de nuestro grupo teatral al que no solamente consideramos como un medio artístico, sino que también como familia. En el futuro seguiremos experimentando, y así, con nuestro trabajo, tratar de ser un conducto expresivo hacia la comunidad latinoamericana en Canadá. Del mismo modo mantendremos 1 Los autores de esta obra agradecen profundamente la colaboración de Hernán Sicilia por la revisión del texto escrito y por sus valiosas sugerencias.

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viva en nuestra memoria la problemática que aqueja a nuestros países de origen y los procesos históricos de América Latina.

LUIS ROJAS Director del proyecto

AMIGO IMAGINARIO OBRA EN CUATRO PEQUEÑOS ACTOS

Personajes JEFA, jefa del banco. LÁZARO, empleado del banco. TORITO, su amigo imaginario, un toro enorme de 600 kilos. MUJER HOMBRE PEPO OREJA, su amigo imaginario. ESCRITOR AMIGO IMAGINARIO, Escritor transformado en amigo imaginario.

Acto Primero El Toro Que Te Mira Por: Lorenzo Vargas Mantilla Oficinas de banco. Una tarde de verano. Lázaro se encuentra en su cubículo. Nadie más en la oficina. JEFA (entra): ¡Lázaro! ¡Lázaro! ¡Ah, qué suerte que lo encuentro! Mire, tengo que salir, ya está bien tarde. No se le olvide que los informes que le di esta mañana son para mañana a primera hora. Espero tenerlos sobre mi escritorio a las ocho de la mañana, ¡a más tardar! LÁZARO: Sí señora, así será. Ya casi voy terminando. JEFA: ¡Ah, y más vale que estén bien hechos por que a usted de vez en cuando se le pierden algunos numeritos! LÁZARO (murmurando): Pero cómo jode… JEFA: ¿Decía algo? Latin American Encounters | 49


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LÁZARO: No, no, no, señora. Que tenga una buena noche. (La Jefa sale. Lázaro vuelve a su trabajo:) A ver: dos y llevo cuatro; siete y llevo seis… (Murmura:) Creo que así me cuadra bien el presupuesto… o no… pero hay una suma que me faltaba antes… ¿cómo es que es esto?… (Irritado:) No sé quién me hizo a mí trabajar en un banco, ¡si yo detesto las matemáticas! Y además, ¡me quedan todos estos sellos por poner! (Pone sello tras sello sobre las cartas que se encuentran en su escritorio. Un toro enorme, de unos 600 kilos, entra a la oficina, observa a Lázaro por un instante, y luego se abalanza sobre el escritorio.) TORITO (muge largamente): ¡Mu! LÁZARO: ¡¡¡Ah!!!! (Se tira al suelo. Coge la bocina del teléfono.) ¡Seguridad! ¡Tengo que llamar a seguridad! (Presiona los números del teléfono.) TORITO (camina pausadamente por la oficina. Observa a Lázaro): ¿De verdad no te acuerdas de mí, Lázaro? Yo sé que ya estoy muy grande, pero ¡tampoco es para que no me reconozcas! LÁZARO: ¡Carajo, un toro que habla! Dios mío, ¿qué me está pasando? TORITO: Pero ya, tranquilo, hombre, que soy yo, Torito: ¡tu amigo de infancia! LÁZARO (deja a un lado la bocina. Mira hacia Torito): Ah… Torito. Pero si hace como treinta años que no te veía. TORITO: Sí, yo sé. Ha sido mucho tiempo. ¿Cómo estás? LÁZARO: Pues bien. De maravilla. Y ¿tú qué? TORITO: Nada especial. Pero, dime una cosa: ¡qué haces tú aquí, metido en esta oficina, ¿acaso no ves el sol que hace?! Vamos a jugar, como antes, al toro y al torero. LÁZARO: No puedo, Torito, tengo que terminar este informe. Además, yo dejé de jugar a los toros hace mucho tiempo. No podía seguir soñando con ser Torero; a que tú y yo bailábamos sobre el área y bajo el sol, como si fuera un ballet. Sobre todo después de haber visto en televisión cómo el toro a veces mata al torero. TORITO: ¿De qué hablas, Lázaro? Yo no te quiero matar. Vamos, vamos a jugar. No soporto verte ahí con esa corbata y esa camisa tan fea. No sé por qué no eres Torero como querías cuando eras niño. LÁZARO: No sé Torito… tengo mucho trabajo que hacer. (Vuelve a su trabajo ignorando a Torito. Torito comienza a mugir y a molestarlo para llamar su atención.) ¡Okay, está bien, Torito! Está bien, igual ya estas aquí, así que juguemos un rato al toro y al torero como cuando éramos pequeños. (Lázaro coge su chaqueta y se dispone a comenzar la corrida.) Nada más ten cuidado porque esta oficina no es mía, ¡no vayamos a romper nada! (Se levanta del escritorio. Avanza hacia Torito con aire de matador. Comienzan a jugar. Se divierten y cada vez la corrida tiene más ritmo y energía. Torito cada vez más alegre y fuera de control dejándose llevar por sus instintos. Con cada pase la corrida deja de ser un simple juego convirtiéndose en una verdadera batalla. Lázaro se detiene repentinamente.) ¡Espera, espera Torito! ¡Se acabó el juego, yo no puedo seguir! TORITO: Pero ¿por qué? ¿No ves cómo nos divertimos? ¡Qué te pasa! LÁZARO: Es que tú no entiendes, Torito: A mí me da mucho miedo torear. Es por eso que dejé de hablar contigo hace tantos años. No quiero que me mates y tampoco te quiero matar. TORITO: Y ¿por qué me vas a matar tú a mi, ¡si somos amigos!? LÁZARO: ¡Yo sé, Torito!, es que no sé si tú sepas, pero, casi siempre, en la vida real, el torero termina matando al toro. Es por eso que dejé de soñar con ser torero, y ahora trabajo 50 | Latin American Encounters


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aquí, en el banco. TORITO: ¿Por qué no sigues tu sueño de ser torero? ¿No es eso lo que te gusta hacer? LÁZARO: Torito, vete de aquí que me estás confundiendo. (Pone sellos sobre las cartas del escritorio.) Sí, vete, vete, que no te quiero ver. Ve y busca un buen pastal y búscate unas buenas vacas y ¡déjame en paz! TORITO: No. Yo aquí me quedo. Hasta que decidas ser torero como debe ser. LÁZARO: Pero ¿qué, no entiendes?, si para ser torero, ¡te tengo que matar! TORITO: ¿Que me vas a matar tú a mí?, ¡si eres un flaco sin ganas! (Respira fuertemente. Mueve la cabeza amenazante avanzando hacia Lázaro.) LÁZARO: ¡Qué haces? ¡Qué quieres? TORITO: ¡A ver!: ¡Mátame si puedes! ¡Deja ya el miedo! O qué esperas, ¿que te mate yo primero? (Lázaro arrinconado coge uno de los lápices sobre el escritorio. Se lanza sobre el lomo de Torito. Le entierra el lápiz en el corazón. Torito cae muerto. Lázaro sigue poniendo sellos cada vez más rápido y con más fuerza. Las luces se van apagando.)

Acto Segundo La Estacion Por: Víctor Ordaz Una estación pequeña de tren. Hay una banca de madera, detrás de ella cuelga del muro un reloj grande que marca la media noche. La banca y el reloj son apenas iluminados por la luz tenue de un pequeño farol. Hay ruidos de noche: grillos, perros ladrando; así como ruido de trenes que se detienen por algunos minutos y siguen su camino a las grandes ciudades. En el extremo izquierdo de la banca hay una mujer sentada. Está muy arreglada, es de edad madura. Tiene la mirada perdida y la cabeza ligeramente inclinada. Un Hombre de treinta años aproximadamente entra a la estación. Está bien arreglado, lleva un ramo de rosas y algunos sobres amarrados con un listón rojo. Se dirige hacia la banca. Toma asiento en el otro extremo de la banca. Está nervioso. Mira su reloj de pulso, corrobora la hora con el reloj de pared. Mira hacia la izquierda tratando de avistar el próximo tren. A lo lejos, el sonido del tren que se acerca. El hombre se pone de pie, se arregla la corbata, se sacude el abrigo. El sonido del tren cada vez más cerca. El hombre da unos pasos al frente. El sonido del tren que ya ha llegado. El ruido del bullicio por la gente que baja del tren. El hombre mira hacia el lado donde proviene el ruido y busca con la mirada. Poco a poco se atenúa el ruido de la gente, la voz del hombre del tren grita “¡VAMONOS!”. El sonido del partir del tren, se atenúan los sonidos que trajo el tren hasta desaparecer. El hombre desilusionado se vuelve a sentar en la banca. MUJER: ¿No llegó quien esperaba? HOMBRE: No. MUJER: Y ¿a quién esperaba, si no le importa que pregunte? HOMBRE: No lo sé… MUJER: ¿Cómo, esperaba a alguien que no conoce? HOMBRE: No la conozco del todo… bueno, no físicamente aún, pero sé que ella es la mujer por Latin American Encounters | 51


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la cual he esperado desde que era un niño. Conozco su alma, su forma de pensar, sus sentimientos, su honestidad, su infinita bondad… MUJER: Y ¿cómo se puede saber tanto de una persona que no se le conoce? HOMBRE: Porque tengo esto (muestra el fajo de cartas). Todas sus emociones las tengo yo, me las ha enviado para que le conozca el alma primero. MUJER: Y ¿bien?... HOMBRE: No sé qué ha pasado. Nos escribimos diciendo que hoy sería el día en que nos encontraríamos, pero algo debió haber pasado. MUJER: Algo verdaderamente grave como para no acudir a una cita tan importante, por que me imagino que lo es para usted, ¿no es así? HOMBRE: Claro que lo es. He estado esperando este momento por años; he vivido sólo por este momento. Sé que llegará; no fue en este tren, pero tal vez venga en el siguiente o en el de mañana o en el de pasado mañana; pero aquí estaré, la esperaré en esta banca como lo acordamos. MUJER: Y ¿cómo se llama? HOMBRE: ¿Quién? MUJER: Ella. HOMBRE: Esperanza. MUJER: Ya veo, le has puesto nombre. HOMBRE: ¿Cómo dice? MUJER: Que le has puesto nombre a tu amor… HOMBRE: No sé de qué habla, yo no le he puesto ningún nombre a nadie, así es como ella se llama… MUJER (lo interrumpe): Así es como tú la has nombrado. HOMBRE: No sé de qué habla, ni siquiera la conozco a usted. No sé por qué se está tomando esta libertad conmigo, yo sólo respondí amablemente a su pregunta. Así que le pido de la manera más amable que si vamos a compartir esta banca, imagine que no existo. MUJER: ¡Imaginar! Un acto tan simple en apariencia, pero tan complicado a veces. Le propongo algo: ¿Por qué no mejor usted imagina que yo no estoy aquí, y me deja ir de una vez? HOMBRE: ¿Dejarla ir? ¿De qué habla? Ya le dije que yo a usted no la conozco, pero en algo sí tiene razón: imaginaré que no existe. (Los dos guardan silencio mientras miran en direcciones contrarias.) HOMBRE (titubeante): Y usted… ¿Qué hace aquí, a quién espera? Mujer: No lo sé. Cuando me di cuenta, ya estaba sentada en esta banca esperando a alguien. HOMBRE: ¿A quién? MUJER: No lo sé, dígamelo usted. HOMBRE: Deje de insistir, por favor; ya le dije que no le conozco a usted, sólo he venido hasta aquí por Esperanza. MUJER: Quizás yo también he venido aquí por ella, para llevármela de regreso. HOMBRE: ¿Llevarla a dónde? ¿Usted le conoce? ¿Por qué sabe todo esto? ¿Quién es usted? MUJER: Son muchas preguntas a la vez… HOMBRE (la interrumpe más exaltado): ¡Respóndame de una vez! Mujer: Soledad… (Al escuchar su nombre, el hombre, impresionado, se detiene abruptamente.) 52 | Latin American Encounters


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(Pausa.) Y para las demás preguntas, sabes que tú tienes las repuestas, así como sabes que ella no vendrá. HOMBRE: ¡Claro que vendrá! Ella misma me lo ha escrito. Fue ella quien escogió esta estación para que nos conociéramos. Ella me necesita tanto como yo a ella, todo está aquí en sus cartas que me ha escrito. (Se apura a desanudar el fajo de cartas para mostrárselas.) Se las voy a leer para que se convenza de una vez y me deje en paz. MUJER: Cartas que tú mismo has escrito por años. HOMBRE: No sea ridícula, cómo se le ocurre semejante tontería. Por favor, váyase. MUJER: No me puedo ir, aún no puedo regresar. HOMBRE: Por favor, si sabe algo dígamelo, que me está confundiendo MUJER: Que tú eres Esperanza. Tú la creaste a través de tus versos en tus cartas y la has alimentado todos estos años con tu AMOR, con tu paciencia; le has dado, como tú dijiste, un alma noble; conoces su bondad pero… HOMBRE: Pero no es real. MUJER: Me temo que no. HOMBRE: Y ¿tú? ¿Tú eres real? MUJER: No, tampoco yo. HOMBRE: Y ¿por qué te puedo ver? ¿Por qué estoy hablando contigo? MUJER: Porque tú tampoco eres real. HOMBRE: Y entonces… ¿Quiénes somos? MUJER: Somos tinta y papel, la imaginación de alguien más. HOMBRE: Y ¿ahora qué? MUJER: Te quedarás aquí, esperarás a que tu historia se acabe de escribir algún día.

Acto Tercero Pepo Y Oreja Por: Jorge Henriquez Ross PEPO: Otra noche sin poder dormir… (Pausa.) ¿Oreja? ¿Qué haces ahí parado? OREJA: Siempre he estado aquí, Pepo. PEPO: Y ¿cómo no te había visto? OREJA: No me veías porque creías que me habías olvidado. ¿Crees que por más que hayan pasado los años he dejado de existir? Siempre he estado en tu cabeza. PEPO: Ya estoy muy viejo para seguir contigo en mi imaginación. OREJA: ¿Recuerdas por qué me decías “Oreja”? PEPO: No exactamente. Oreja, estoy aquí, ven a sentarte. OREJA: Porque siempre he estado dispuesto a escucharte. PEPO: Es verdad. OREJA: Si ahora estoy aquí es porque necesitas conversar. Aquí estoy todo “orejas”. ¿Qué te inquieta? PEPO: Lo que sucede es que después de tantos años, todavía le tengo miedo a la oscuridad. OREJA: ¿No has vencido ese temor? PEPO: No, no. Cuando llega el atardecer, en esos momentos cuando el día empieza a Latin American Encounters | 53


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transformarse en noche que lo cubre todo, mi estado emocional cambia. Me transformo en un hombre vulnerable, inseguro, temeroso… OREJA: Bueno, a los temores hay que enfrentarlos cara a cara. PEPO: ¿Y cómo se enfrenta a la oscuridad? OREJA: Quizás pensando en días de mucha luz, de mucho sol, en flores de radiantes colores. PEPO: ¿Te acuerdas que cuando era niño pensaba que en cada rincón oscuro estaba escondido el diablo, escondido para agarrarme y llevarme al infierno? OREJA: Eso te lo inculcaron los adultos que te rodeaban, pero tú no haces lo mismo. PEPO: No, no lo hago, pero me molesta recordar esos momentos desagradables. OREJA: La oscuridad no puede existir sin la claridad; lo feo no existe sin lo hermoso; el odio nunca existiría si no existiera el amor; la muerte, sin la vida. Todo se complementa. PEPO: ¡Ah!, como tú y yo. Tú no existirías si yo no existiera. OREJA: Sí, nos complementamos. PEPO: La libertad y la opresión se complementan también, además que para mí, oscuridad y opresión son la misma cosa. OREJA: Sí, la oscuridad y la opresión son sinónimas. PEPO: Todo ser que vive en opresión, vive en un mundo de penumbra, de incertidumbre. OREJA: ¿Sabes cuál es la razón de la opresión? PEPO: La respuesta de los que tienen el poder contra el descontento por las condiciones económicas y sociales. OREJA: El descontento social por la acumulación de riquezas por unos pocos. PEPO: ¿Recuerdas esos momentos cuando expresamos nuestro descontento? OREJA: Sí, y lo pasamos mal. PEPO: Recuerdo la oscuridad que me producía la venda en mis ojos. OREJA: Sí, y el cuerpo desnudo, las manos atadas a la espalda. PEPO: Los golpes, los llantos, los gritos, los insultos, los simulacros de fusilamiento. Pero lo que más me molesta son los sentimientos de culpa. OREJA: Explícame eso. PEPO: Siempre he sentido mucha culpa por haber sobrevivido. Compañeros, amigos, seres queridos, no tuvieron esa suerte. OREJA: No te tortures por eso, no has sido el causante de sus destinos desafortunados. PEPO: Sí, lo sé, pero duele. OREJA: Todo eso ya es parte del pasado. PEPO: Lo es, pero es importante no olvidarlo porque la historia tiende a repetirse. Debemos estar siempre vigilantes a que eso no suceda. OREJA: Estoy de acuerdo, pero ahora ¿qué sientes al vivir en una cultura diferente? PEPO: Tristeza. No me siento bien ni en mi país adoptado ni en el de origen. La soledad es grande en ambas tierras. En el adoptado uno se siente como incomunicado. Las costumbres, el idioma, el clima, todo tan diferente. En el de origen uno también se siente incomunicado. El pasado que uno vivió allí no existe, lo han olvidado. La visión del país de origen es un romanticismo de un pasado que sólo existe en mi mente. (Pausa.) Oye, Oreja, ¿no era todo más fácil y simple cuando éramos niños? OREJA: Cuando éramos inocentes y traviesos… 54 | Latin American Encounters


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PEPO: Pateábamos una pelota hecha de calcetines viejos… OREJA: O jugábamos a los pistoleros. OREJA y PEPO: Jugábamos al trompo. PEPO: Crecimos, conocimos el amor, la política, la paternidad… OREJA y PEPO: ¡Cómo se va complicando la vida! OREJA: Pero no te olvides que aun cuando la oscuridad del día o del espíritu nos pueda superar, en algún momento llega la claridad. PEPO: Oye, Oreja, cómo me gustaría volver a la infancia. OREJA: Volver a la infancia, pero con la experiencia acumulada durante todos estos años. PEPO: ¿Te imaginas? ¡Qué inteligentes les pareceríamos a los demás! OREJA: ¿Y nos convertiríamos en opresores? PEPO: ¿Estás loco? OREJA: No te olvides que cambiamos o que todo cambia. PEPO: Sí, pero como dice la canción: “Pero no cambia mi amor, ni el recuerdo ni el dolor de mi pueblo y de mi gente.” OREJA: A veces uno piensa lo mejor, pero no triunfa. PEPO: Bueno, Oreja, amigo mío, creo que ya es hora de ir a dormir, de olvidar un poco, de adormecer los recuerdos por algunas horas. OREJA: Bien, hasta la próxima. No te olvides que la oscuridad es sólo un estado transitorio. PEPO: Sí. Sé que el sol renacerá cada día aunque esté tapado por las nubes. A pesar de eso, siento como que hablo en un lenguaje que ni siquiera yo entiendo, o no logro darme a entender. Me siento perdido, incompleto, ignorado por la vida presente, con temor sobre el escaso futuro que me queda. Espero que algún día pueda liberarme de esta oscuridad que me rodea, llegar a un momento en que pueda volver a ser yo nuevamente. ¿Sirvió de algo el haber luchado contra la injusticia, expresar el descontento? ¿Sirvió de algo el alto costo humano? ¿Alguien lo sabe? Porque yo… yo no lo sé.

Acto Cuarto Recuerdo Que No Recuerdo Por: Alba Agosto ESCRITOR (hacia un determinado lado donde sitúa a su amigo imaginario): ¿Dónde has estado? Te he estado buscando por todas partes. (Escucha.) ¿Cómo con tus amigos? ¡Si les he preguntado a todos ellos y ninguno te ha visto! (Escucha.) ¿Que yo no los conozco? si vos los conocés, también los conozco yo. ¡Y basta ya! Que tenemos mucho para trabajar. (Se apaga abruptamente la luz.) Te explicare. (Se enciende la lámpara.) Debo escribir una obra; bueno… quizás no es una obra, pero algo sobre nosotros dos. (Escucha.) ¿Cómo que de qué tema vamos a hablar? ¡De El Tema, nuestro tema! De vos y yo. (Escucha.) ¿Fácil? Fácil no es, no lo creas. (Escucha.) Sí, si eso es lo que quiero: ¡empezar! ¿Pero empezar por dónde? Las ideas no me llegan, no se concretan, no tengo ninguna dirección para guiar mis pensamientos. Es el síndrome de la hoja en blanco. (Escucha.) Te digo que no es tan sencillo. (Pausa.) ¿Por qué no podemos recordar los momentos que han sido tan importantes en nuestra vida? ¿Por qué se nos escapan de nuestra memoria? ¡Parecería que Latin American Encounters | 55


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nuestras ideas estuvieran sepultadas! ¡Cómo nos cuesta mirar el pasado! ¿Qué decís? Deja de reírte y repetí lo que dijiste. (Escucha.) Que estoy recordando. ¿Cómo? No te entiendo. (Escucha.) ¡Ah!, que juntos vivimos momentos que fueron importantes en nuestras vidas. Tenés razón, pero aun así todavía no recuerdo cuales fueron esos momentos. (Empieza a cambiarse de lugar y de ropa.) ¿Por qué te reís así?, no sé si te burlás de mí o te reís porque tenés miedo. ¿Pensás que te voy a dejar de imaginar? (Pausa.) ¿Sabés?, a veces vos parecés ser el imaginador y yo el imaginado. ¿No lo creés? (Escritora se transforma en la amiga imaginaria.) AMIGO IMAGINARIO (de espaldas): Sí, pero yo no tengo miedo que dejes de imaginarme. Sos vos el que teme y no se atreve a recordar el pasado. Sé que no se puede cambiar, pero no hace daño recordarlo. (Pausa.) Seguro que no te gusta recordar cuando encerramos a tu mamá en el gallinero; o cuando tiramos al gato desde el segundo piso; y que no querías dormir en la carpa porque le tenías miedo a la oscuridad; y cuando tu abuelo te llevaba al desfile de carnaval y apenas escuchabas los cuetes, te hacías pipí de miedo. Recuerdo la desazón y el desconcierto que sentiste cuando en la escuela una compañera de tu clase murió. Era tu primera experiencia cerca de la muerte. Y lo que sufriste la primera vez que te separaste de tu familia para ir a estudiar en otro país. ¡Cuánta nostalgia! (Pausa pequeña.) Aunque nada comparable al terror sentido durante los años de la dictadura en nuestro país, donde tú y yo apenas salvamos el pellejo. Terror que se convirtió en dolor e impotencia por todos los detenidos, muertos y desaparecidos. (Pausa.) Bueno, aquí tienes algunas ideas para tu obra. Piensa que la vida no es un camino recto; está plagada de alegría y aciertos, pero también de tristezas y errores que muchas veces los ponemos bajo llave para olvidarlos. (Pausa.) La felicidad no se logra olvidando el pasado. Sí, sí. Eso es lo que ya debes empezar a hacer. ¡Adelante, manos a la obra! Así ambos tendremos una existencia feliz, porque aunque no me sigas imaginando yo estaré aquí como siempre, junto a vos. (Amiga imaginaria se transforma en la escritora.) ESCRITOR: Eso es lo que necesitaba: el sonido de tu voz y tus recuerdos, que son también los míos, y tu memoria que es parte de la mía. Porque vos y yo somos lo mismo. (Pausa.) Ahora sí puedo sentarme a escribir nuestra obra. Fin de Amigo Imaginario

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Spring / Primavera 2013 | Volume 1 | Issue 1

LATIN AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS

Nuevas Masculinidades: Una Conferencia de Actor Carlos Satizábal - Profesor Asociado, Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Trama Luna Teatro/Corporación Colombiana de Teatro. Personajes: Franco: el actor. Nena: compañera del actor En la escena una mesa frente al público, sobre ella un vaso y una jarra con agua. A un lado de la mesa, también frente al público, una silla. Entra Franco, traje formal, gafas de intelectual y maletín. Pone el maletín sobre la mesa. Mira al público, saca unos papeles del maletín, los pone sobre la mesa. FRANCO: Buenas. (Se sienta. Se limpia la voz, carraspea. Se sirve agua, toma). Me corresponde hablarles sobre nuevas masculinidades. Haré una lectura de actor. Una lectura sobre cómo los hombres podemos luchar por otra masculinidad. Es decir, luchar contra el macho que llevamos dentro. Soy actor. John Franklin Hernández, Franco, me dicen mis amigos. Carlos Satizábal, un compañero del grupo Trama Luna Teatro, debía darles esta conferencia. Pero se fue a otro festival… Y yo… vine a reemplazarlo… A leerles, como actor, su conferencia. La dejó escrita, aquí, en estos papeles… Carlos me dijo: “Mira Franco, yo… tengo que ofrecer una conferencia sobre nuevas masculinidades. Uno no puede hablar de lo que no sabe. Ni actuando. Hum... Aunque actuando, tal vez sí. En el arte uno no tiene que saberlo todo. Picasso decía: ‘Si usted ya sabe lo que va a hacer, entonces, ¿para qué lo hace?’” Eso me dijo. Y es verdad: en el arte cuando uno sabe tanto no puede inventar. En el arte uno explora lo que no sabe, lo desconocido: lo explora con la imaginación, con la invención. Trataré entonces de imaginar, de preguntarme aquí sobre las nuevas masculinidades, sobre qué significa ser hombre… Lo haré como actor. Con una lectura de actor, con ejemplos, de la conferencia que Carlos escribió. Toma agua. Lee.

1 Obra estrenada con Rapsoda Teatro, con el actor Franco Hernández y la actriz Cristina Hernández, en octubre de 2009, en el encuentro mundial de masculinidades de Unicef en Bogotá. Carlos Satizábal, escribió y dirigió este trabajo. Con Rapsoda Teatro hemos presentado esta obra en el Festival de Mujeres en Escena, Bogotá, noviembre de 2009. En el Festival Mujeres Creadoras, Lima, noviembre 2009. En el Festival La Otra Mirada, Sevilla, España, octubre 2010. En el XVI Encuentro de Mujeres de Iberoamérica en las Artes Escénicas del XXV Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro de Cádiz, España, octubre 2010. En el Festival Casas de Úrsula, Bogotá octubre 2011. Carlos Satizábal, es escritor, dramaturgo, actor y director teatral; recibió recientemente en Bogotá el Premio Nacional Poesía Inédita 2012. Es profesor asociado de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, en la Escuela de Cine y Tv y en la Maestría de Escrituras Creativas. Es miembro de la Corporación Colombiana de Teatro y co-fundador con Patricia Ariza del grupo Rapsoda Teatro.

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Dice: Vamos a hacer un paralelo entre la educación para volvernos actores y la educación silenciosa de la cultura para volvernos machos. Cómo en el teatro y en la cultura nos educan el cuerpo, la mirada, la voz y el arte de contar historias, de asumir un rol o un personaje: ser hombre o ser mujer. Uno como actor tiene que preguntarse qué es ser mujer, y qué es ser hombre. Qué es ser otro. Como actores nos toca ser otros. Es lo que hacemos en la escena: en el teatro. Ser otros. Ser hombre o ser mujer. Incluso puede ser uno una nueva masculinidad. Aunque uno no sepa muy bien cómo… Pero mejor les hablo del teatro y así también del tema: de las masculinidades. En el teatro lo primero es la mirada: Aprender a mirar. Mirar con claridad, a un solo punto. Si se mueve la mirada a todos lados... No, no sirve. Sirve, sí, para hacer miradas nerviosas, movedizas: por ejemplo: de mal ladrón. De ladrón inexperto. Actúa al ladrón inexperto que se roba algo de la mesa, su celular, p. ej., mira el celular, mira a todas partes, lo toma se tropieza, se le cae al piso, etc. Pero un ladrón profesional, no vacila, toma las cosas como si fueran suyas. Toma el celular y se lo guarda tranquilamente. La mirada fija y la mirada furtiva, vaga, esquiva, nerviosa, uno las aprende antes de ser actor. Las aprende desde niño, cuando ve cómo los grandes, los adultos, desnudan a una mujer hermosa que entra al lugar… Aquí, allí, o pasa por el frente. O a una niña que empieza a volverse mujer. Hace como que mira a una niña, con ojos lascivos, de violador. Toma agua. Uno aprende de niño esa mirada, la mirada que desnuda, la mirada del violador. Para esa mirada esperamos que se vistan las mujeres. La mirada del espejo con voz de hombre en que se mira la bruja hermosa de Blancanieves: “Espejito mágico, espejito de oro, quién es la más linda, dímelo tesoro.” “Blancanieves”. El rey Edipo se arrancó los ojos porque sabía que todo estaba escrito en la mirada. Quizá el rey Edipo tenía un ojo de más... El rey Edipo mató a su padre y tuvo hijas e hijos con su propia madre… Sin saberlo, sí... Sus hijos eran también sus hermanos. Tremendo… ¿Cómo actuar a un hombre así? ¿Cómo hacer a este personaje? Todo está escrito en la mirada. La mirada del violador desde niños la aprendemos... Sí, al desnudar con los ojos a las niñas que ya se vuelven mujeres. Los ojos así educados, son ojos que roen los sueños, carcomen el deseo, el amor... A veces, cuando me descubro mirando así…. Ajjj. Quiero saltar sobre esos ojos, los míos, y arrancarlos para mirar por dentro... Intenta sacarse los ojos con los dedos: los saca, los mira.

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Analizar la pupila, el humor vítreo, las venas diminutas que cruzan el blanco, las inervaciones nerviosas que conectan los ojos con el deseo, con el cerebro, con la sangre. Los ojos son los órganos blandos que están más cerca del cerebro. A dos centímetros del cerebro. También el oído está muy cerca el cerebro. Pero más los ojos. Por eso, más peligroso que un disparo en un oído es un disparo en un ojo… Pero yo lo que quiero es mirar en mis ojos por dentro y entender cómo es la mirada del que desnuda con la mirada. Mira de nuevo como violador. Eso, esa mirada: la del macho, la del violador… De ese primer gesto violento del que desnuda, intimida y viola con la mirada, el macho puede pasar rápidamente a someter con la amenaza verbal, el insulto, la humillación y con la violencia física, con los golpes. A amenazar con el daño, con el dolor, con la muerte. Con las armas. Y a enfrentar a cualquiera que mire a sus conquistas, a las propiedades sexuales del violento, al que mire con deseo, con ojos de violador, a la mujer que ese violento cree suya, su propiedad, su mujer, su hembra: Golpea la mesa. En personaje: Qué, ¿qué mira, ladroncito? ¿le gustó mi mujer, ah? Malparido. Se levanta, tiene una navaja, apuñala al imaginario mirón. Tome pa´ que afine, hijueputica, pa´que aprenda a respetar a las mujeres ajenas… Le habla a la mujer Y usted, qué hace con ese vestido, mostrando las… Vaya para adentro. Fuera de personaje, se sienta y toma agua. La mirada es el primer gesto a cambiar, en la educación para machos que nos imparten desde la infancia. Para buscar una nueva masculinidad, hay que arrancarse esos ojos: los ojos de la mirada del violador. Y, es muy curioso, como les había dicho, la mirada es también un primer asunto del oficio de actuar, de querer ser otro que aquel que uno es. Fingir que ya no soy yo sino otro. Me vuelvo un poco loco y yo ya no soy yo. Soy Hamlet, Edipo, Borges enamorado. Miro con mis ojos pero con otra mirada, diferente a mi mirada habitual. Miro con la mirada del personaje. Porque en el teatro presto mis ojos y mi cuerpo para darle vida al personaje. “Ayer ví el cielo en sus ojos y me ví yo, como en un espejo. Esta tarde, cuando la Latin American Encounters | 59


Carlos Satizábal

veas a ella, mira en sus ojos, por la noche me cuentas si también ves el cielo…” Eso dice un personaje niño de una obra en la que yo actuaba: Borges, El Otro, El Mismo… Lo dice Borges niño. Me lo pide a mí, al Borges hombre, enamorado, cuando voy a salir al encuentro de mi amada: me pide que mire en sus ojos, en el espejo de su mirada... Quiero insistir, la mirada, como ustedes ven, es un primer asunto de la actuación. Pero también de las nuevas masculinidades: Para ser un nuevo hombre hay que arrancarse los ojos del violador. Toma agua, mira, piensa. El cuerpo es otro asunto a estudiar en el teatro. ¿Cómo camina el cuerpo, cómo se mueve el cuerpo, cómo se sienta el cuerpo, cómo goza y desea el cuerpo? ¿Cómo tiene orgasmos e hijos el cuerpo? El cuerpo y las posiciones del cuerpo son diseños culturales. ¿Cómo sentarse, cómo pararse, cómo caminar, cómo relacionarse con la naturaleza, con los otros; cómo gozar, cómo parir...? Son diseños culturales. El cuerpo está diseñado por la cultura. Un hombre nuevo debería también preguntarse, si uno quiere encontrar otra masculinidad, no machista, no patriarcal, buscar descubrir en uno mismo al hombre con otra mirada, con otro cuerpo. Como actor, uno se pregunta y estudia: ¿cómo puedo interpretar a otro hombre? ¿cómo mira ese otro hombre? Pero casi nunca se lo pregunta uno mismo, como hombre: ¿cómo mira Carlos? En este caso, ¿cómo miro yo, Franco Hernández? Es decir, ¿puedo mirar como un nuevo hombre? Yo mismo como otro. No yo con los ojos del violador con que me enseñaron a mirar desde niño. Si no yo con otros ojos. Yo-Otro. Sólo ahora que ustedes me lo preguntan, que me ponen de conferencista… me lo pregunto… En una investigación que hicieron en la Universidad Nacional de Colombia les preguntaron, como a mil hombres: ¿Para usted qué es ser hombre? Y la gran mayoría respondió de inmediato con un gesto, hicieron esto: Se levanta, e inclinando la cabeza mira a su sexo y lo señala con sus manos. Rompe el gesto. Se sienta y toma agua. La voz es otro gesto que estudiamos en el teatro. Inventamos ejercicios para descubrir las voces que tiene nuestra voz. Por ejemplo: hacer la voz de algún animal: un perro: guaauuuu. Un gato: miau. Una oveja: beeeee, beee. O la respiración del asmático: ajjjjjh. En estos juegos de imitaciones, uno descubre que lo más importante, lo que comunica de un 60 | Latin American Encounters


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modo directo es la intención y el sentimiento: Un perro triste. Auuuu. O al hablar en una lengua inventada, que simule la música de una lengua conocida: del chino o del japonés. Y hacerlo como si fuera un militar chino o un samurai japonés: Se levanta de su silla y adopta con su cuerpo la posición de un samurai o un luchador oriental. Iaa, hagura, nakamura, hi hai hiro, hiroooohito, saaaa keee. Kimono. Para uno como actor lo más importante es el subtexto: lo que está en la intención y en la entonación de la voz: Adopta la posición corporal y el tono de voz de un marido autoritario. “Tráigame la comida”. Aquí no importa si este personaje tiene o no hambre. Lo que importa es lo que está detrás de sus palabras. Mima comer de un plato. Escupe lo que prueba. “Esta comida está fría”, (toma agua). Todo está escrito en el tono de la voz. El mito: hay un mito en el cual se funda nuestra cultura del cuerpo, el mito del Génesis: de Adán el crédulo y Eva la desobediente. En ese mito están las raíces profundas de los comportamientos del cuerpo: del parir con dolor, del trabajo como castigo, del amor como dominación y del saqueo a la naturaleza. “Sufrirás y parirás con dolor, hacia tu marido irá tu apetencia y él te dominará.” Así dice o maldice Jehová a Eva en Génesis capítulo 3, versículo 20. Convierte en maldiciones, el don y el placer de dar vida y el goce del amor. Estas blasfemias son las maldiciones míticas sobre las que se levanta la cultura patriarcal, en ellas están escritas las condenas y tragedias de la civilización: la condena a no entender los lenguajes de la naturaleza. Es tremendo esto, porque uno como actor sabe que todo está escrito en los cantos y en el tono de la voz. Toma agua, mira, piensa, lee. En esta secuencia no levanta la mirada del texto, lee sin mirar al público. “Parirás con dolor”. Pero hay culturas donde las mujeres no sufren al parir. Hay investigaciones que demuestran que incluso en los partos sin dolor puede haber un profundo orgasmo. El orgasmo uterino. El orgasmo profundo. La sexualidad del cuerpo femenino es muy diferente a la sexualidad del cuerpo masculino. Nosotros, los hombres, no sabemos qué es tener un orgasmo tras otro, cómo hacer de nuestros Latin American Encounters | 61


Carlos Satizábal

orgasmos una cascada, que se den sin cesar, numerosos, sin parar. Un goce inimaginable. Pero muchas mujeres tienen orgasmos así, casi sin fin. Y tienen sus partos con placer. Con un placer uterino, orgásmico. Esto, uno, de hombre, lo tiene que saber. Y sobre todo conocer. El cuerpo femenino es multiorgásmico. Y eso es lo que provoca el odio a la mujer. Pausa Esto que digo lo investigamos con Carlos en los libros feministas. Y también en la experiencia personal. Saca el libro de su maletín, la fotocopia, la muestra. Les recomiendo la página web y el libro Pariremos con placer, de Casilda Rodrigáñez. Aquí se habla de este asunto con gran profundidad y mayor claridad. La condena a parir con dolor es un nudo central del odio a la mujer, del miedo al cuerpo multiorgásmico femenino, del temor a sus potencias uterinas, a la complejidad y hondura de sus goces. Para controlar y someter al cuerpo femenino, el mito patriarcal monoteísta inventó el dolor: parirás con dolor. Y la cultura patriarcal impuso unas posiciones cotidianas del cuerpo: el modo de caminar, el modo de sentarse. Muchos pueblos indígenas no se sientan así como nosotros aquí, en estos asientos tan altos del suelo, que nos obligan a mantenernos erguidos aunque estemos sentados. Tienen unos asientitos pequeños, que hacen que las rodillas estén mucho más arriba de las caderas. Así. Se sube a la mesa y se sienta sobre ella en cuclillas. Una mujer sentada así tendrá su útero relajado. Su cadera será más fuerte y amplia y su columna vertebral recta y relajada a la vez. Se sienta sobre la mesa con las piernas abiertas. Pero entre nosotros, a las mujeres les enseñan desde niñas a sentarse con las piernas cerradas, juntas: “siéntense bien mijita, lo van a embobar”, le decía mi abuelita a mis primas cuando jugaba con ellas, sentadas en el suelo. Entre nosotros, si una mujer se sienta en cuclillas o con las piernas abiertas, relajado el vientre, dirán que es una provocadora, una indecente. Pero si un hombre se sienta así, no. A las mujeres las obligan a sentarse con las piernas cerradas y el abdomen tenso, para que su útero se tensione, se acalambre. Para que no tengan orgasmos profundos. Para controlarles el cuerpo. Para que al parir tengan dolor, espasmos, violentas contracciones, calambres. (Toma agua) También nos enseñan a no respirar con todo el cuerpo. Olvidamos la respiración intrauterina y la respiración del bebé. De grandes aprendemos a respirar solo con la parte superior de los pulmones. Eso mantiene el cuerpo tenso en su parte baja. Además, debemos tener el abdomen plano, para ser bellas y bellos, deseables. Un abdomen grande es indeseable. 62 | Latin American Encounters


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Esto dicho por mi amigo habría sido más claro, porque él es gordo, panzudito. Dibuja sobre su vientre una panza con las manos Para mí este asunto ha sido un descubrimiento vital. Primero, porque soy actor y en el teatro trabajo con actrices. En el teatro, hombres y mujeres hacemos ejercicios de estiramiento y relajación del cuerpo, de apertura del vientre y las piernas, de respiraciones diferentes. Y segundo, porque he tenido que actuar a una mujer, hacer un personaje de mujer. Una vez actué a una Antígona anciana. Y al actuar de mujer, esto del sentarse, del movimiento y la apertura de las caderas, y las piernas, es uno de los problemas más difíciles. Se dirige a un señor del público. Imagínese usted señor, que le toque interpretar a una mujer, hace a un personaje femenino, pero sin volverlo caricatura o juego de carnaval, si no hacerlo de verdad… Usted, uno, una mujer… Muy difícil. En una de las tradiciones actorales del Japón ese es el trabajo de actor más difícil y de más largo entrenamiento: ser mujer, ser un Onnagata: el actor que hace de mujer. Los Onnagatas hacen de mujeres porque en el teatro del Japón las mujeres no pueden actuar. Igual que en la Grecia antigua. Clitemnestra era actuada por un varón. Y Antígona. Y Medea. Y Casandra. Todas. En la Grecia clásica las mujeres ni siquiera podían venir como público al teatro. Ellas sólo debían ser bellas, calladas y obedientes. (Toma agua) La desvalorización de la mujer es algo que también nos enseñan desde la infancia con los cuentos infantiles, cuentos que son modelos de muchas historias que luego vemos en el teatro, en la televisión y en el cine. Ya mencionamos el espejo de Blancanieves. Miremos ahora el viaje de Caperucita Roja. “Llévale a tu abuelita esta torta y esta miel, y no hables con nadie”. Pero en el primer cruce del camino Caperucita se encuentra con el lobo, y al igual que Eva, la desobediente, Caperucita desobedece. Y el lobo la engaña: “Vas por el camino más largo, toma por este que es más corto.” El lobo llega primero y se come a la abuelita. Es raro esto también: la abuelita no reconoce la voz de su propia nieta. Pero podemos suponer que es un lobo muy buen actor porque luego engaña, de nuevo, a Caperucita: “Qué ojos tan grandes tienes”. “Para verte mejor”. “Qué boca, qué dientes tan grandes tienes”. “Para comerte mejor”. Y se la come. Tiene que aparecer el cazador, el hombre esforzado, el trabajador fornido con su hacha, con su arma, para que le abra el vientre al lobo que hace su siesta digestiva de semejante cena de abuela y nieta juntas, y las salve. Como el príncipe de Blancanieves, como el de Cenicienta, como el de la Bella Durmiente, las niñas buenas de casi todos estos cuentos, las princesas y cenicientas, necesitan de un hombre que las proteja, que las salve. Las niñas buenas salen al mundo y cualquier lobo o bruja las engaña. Ellas son engañables, son tontas. Es lo que enseñan estos cuentos de las niñas. Todo lo contrario de lo que dicen de los niños: Pulgarcito engaña al gigante ogro, le roba las botas de siete leguas y le roba su tesoro. Latin American Encounters | 63


Carlos Satizábal

Estos patrones culturales de la muchacha hermosa y tonta que se prepara para la voz y la mirada masculina hay que denunciarlos. Acabarlos. El teatro que nosotros en Trama Luna Teatro hacemos busca desnudar esos patrones de poder y violencia, mostrar su miseria. Por ejemplo: poniéndonos teatralmente frente a su misoginia y su violencia, haciendo evidentes su odio y su locura. Señala la escena, con un gesto que prepara lo que va a hacer inmediatamente. En Pasarela, una obra contra la violencia de género dirigida por Patricia Ariza, hago a un macho violento. Se quita la camiseta, debajo tiene el chaleco rojo, abierto en el pecho desnudo. se pone gafas oscuras. Actúa al hombre. Golpea una mano en puño contra la palma abierta de la otra, y dice su parlamento. “Yo sé que ella va a volver, ella se lo merecía, ella lo sabe, ella sabe que se lo merecía, a ella le gusta, pero ella va a volver, esperen y verán”. Rompe con el personaje. Rehace el gesto de señalar a la escena y dice: El macho como personaje, para mostrar su miseria. Yo podría creer que este personaje no tiene nada que ver conmigo. Quizá no, así, con ese puño amenazante, no. Pero no sé si con lo que está debajo de sus gestos y palabras. Mi compañera, claro, no tiene nada que ver con esta mujer de la que aquí habla ese personaje. Ella es actriz también. Y juntos criamos una niña hermosa: Selva. Esta es su foto, mírenla. Pásela. Le pasa a alguien del público una foto de la niña. Es muy linda. Cuando nació, mi amigo, Carlos Zatizábal, el que iba a dar aquí esta conferencia, propuso ese nombre tan bonito. Selva. Y le dijo a la Nena, a mi compañera, a la mamá de Selvita, unos versos de Dante: “esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte que en el pensiero rinuova la pavura.” Le pusimos Selva, el nombre de la naturaleza. Bueno, y ya con esto voy llegando al final. Perdonen…, un tinto, un cafecito, en Colombia le decimos tinto al café oscuro. Busca en la maleta y saca un termo y vasos. La Nena, mi compañera, la mamá de Selvita, me hizo café esta mañana. Todos le decimos la Nena, pero ella se llama Cristina… El termo. (Bebe) Caramba, está frío. Es que no sabe… Bueno, pero es café. ¿Alguien quiere? Aquí tengo más vasos. (Bebe) 64 | Latin American Encounters


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Yo lo preparo mejor. También le cambio pañales a la niña. A Selva. Sirve más café y bebe. Ah… Ser padre me ha mostrado otras dimensiones de ser hombre, de gozar de otra masculinidad. Aprendí a gozar el placer de cambiar los pañales a mi niña, de jugar con ella, de bañarla... Habla de su niña muy conmovido, de pronto la voz se le quiebra, los ojos le brillan por las lagrimas de felicidad a punto de brotar. …de quererla, de sacarla a pasear. Enseñarla a caminar, a hablar, a decir sus primeras palabras y dejarle a ella, a la mamá de Selvita, a mi compañera, tiempo libre, para ella, para su mundo personal. Entra Nena con Selva. NENA: Perdonen, interrumpir así. Pero es que hoy la niña tiene control médico. (A Franco) Tú la tienes que llevar al médico. Yo tengo una reunión con las muchachas. Chao mi amor. (Besa a Franco). Las chicas me esperan afuera. (Al público). Gracias. Excusen. (Sale). FRANCO: Bueno, habría que reflexionar sobre otros aspectos además de la mirada, la voz, el cuerpo y los cuentos, pero ya ven, me tocó terminar aquí. Saluda, Selvita. Ser papá me ha revelado una de las más especiales perspectivas de la pregunta por lo que pueda significar ser hombre. Y un hombre nuevo. Cuidar de Selvita es un placer único. La experiencia de ser padre me ha transformado. Es un placer que no sabría describirles, solo así, como ven, con mi niña, ¿cierto mi amor? Este placer sin duda es parte de las nuevas masculinidades. Aprendo a ser un padre diferente, un padre que goza cuidando de su hijita… Bueno, muchas gracias. Debo ir con ella. Gracias. Despídete mi amor… Adiós.

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Spring / Primavera 2013 | Volume 1 | Issue 1

LATIN AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS

New Masculinities: An Actor’s Lecture1 Carlos Satizábal2 Translation: Carlos González-Vio3

On stage there is a table with a pitcher of water and an empty glass. To one side of the table there is a chair facing the audience. Carlos enters. He is dressed casually and is carrying a shoulder bag. He sets the bag on the table, takes out some papers and places them on the table. He places the bag to one side of the chair. CARLOS: Good morning. (He sits, clears his throat. He pours some water, drinks it). I am here to talk to you about new masculinities. This is a reading. A reading about how as men, we can challenge ourselves to find another masculinity. That is to say, to confront our own inner macho. I am an actor. Carlos González-Vio. Carlos. Carlos Satizábal, a friend and colleague from Bogotá, was meant to take part in this conference. But he’s not here. I am here in his place. But I have his words. He gave them to me. To translate. So...here I am, to read, as an actor, his conference. He left it written, here, in these pages...for me to read to you. He drinks water. Carlos told me: “Listen, Carlos, a conference about new masculinities, I couldn’t...I’m a man, after all. One cannot speak of what one does not know. Not even acting. Though acting, perhaps. When it comes to art one doesn’t need to know everything. Picasso said: ‘If you already know what you’re going to do, then, why do you it?” That’s what he told me. I agree. In creation when one knows so much there is no invention. In art, a person explores what they don’t know, the unknown: through the imagination, invention. I’ll do that. As an actor. Through this reading, with references, to the conference in these pages written by Carlos Satizábal. He drinks water. 1 North American Premiere at Aluna Theatre’s Pan-American Routes / Rutas Panamericanas Festival May 25, 2012, Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto. Direction: Carlos Satizábal. Acting: Carlos Gonzalez-Vio and Nicola Correia-Damude 2 Associated professor, Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Director, actor and playwright in Rapsoda Teatro / Corporación Colombiana de Teatro, Bogotá. 3 Carlos González-Vio began his theatre training in 2001 at Equity Showcase Theatre with Kevin McCormick, among others. Since then, his work has taken him from Toronto to Buenos Aires, Prague, Havana and Bogotá. With a strange stint south of St. Louis somewhere in there. Stage credits include: Nohayquiensepa (Aluna Theatre), Hallaj (Modern Times Stage Company), Elora Gorge (The Room), La Comunión (Aluna Theatre), Agamemnon (Theatre Cipher), Crave (Nightwood Theatre), Endings (PassBo Dance) and The Epic of Gilgamesh, (Groundwater Productions). Screen credits include: Nikita, XIII, Flashpoint and the up-coming Cracked (CBC). Fully bilingual, Carlos has been able to support fellow artists in their translating and subtitling needs in the past. In 2012, as part of Panamerican Routes/Rutas Panamericanas, Carlos translated (and performed) “New Masculinities” an essay by Colombian poet and playwright, Carlos Satizábal. In 2011, Carlos translated “Lukumi and the Magic Stone” a children’s play by Cuban author, Simon Casanova. From 2006-2008 he assisted as a subtitles editor for Alucine, an experimental film and video festival that receives submissions from all over the world, including the vast Spanish-speaking regions. Carlos is currently collaborating on the development of “Conservación de Cortazar”, an adaptation experiment and will continue this work with the support of Aluna Theatre in 2013.

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Says: Let’s draw some parallels. Between our training as actors, and the silent cultural training boys receive to become men. How in theatre, and in life, our bodies, eyes, voice and storytelling are moulded to assume a role or a character: a man, a woman. As an actor, one needs to ask what it is to be a woman, and what it is to be a man. What it is to be someone else. As actors, we are tasked with being other people. That’s what we do on stage: in theatre. We are other people. We are men or we are women. A new masculinity is capable of inhabiting a body that wasn’t born a male. In fact, oneself could be a new masculinity. Despite not knowing so well how...But best that I speak about theatre and through that the topic: the masculinities. In theatre the first thing is the eyes. To learn to look. To look clearly, precisely. If your eyes are everywhere...it doesn’t work. It works, sure, to give nervous looks, shifty: for example, a bad thief. A novice thief. He imitates a novice thief who clumsily fails to steal a pen off the desk. But a good thief, a professional, gives nothing away. Takes things as though they’re his. Now he imitates a professional thief who swipes it and puts it behind his ear, he sits down, crossing his legs with a smile. The firm gaze, the furtive gaze, vague, elusive, nervous... We learn them before we become actors. As children, boys learn from watching the grown-ups, how the men undress a beautiful woman that walks into the room. Or a girl, becoming a woman. He pretends to look at a girl and gazes at her lasciviously, violating her. He drinks water. As children we learn that look, the look that undresses with the eyes, the eyes of the violator. To achieve that look, we wait, patiently, for women to get dressed. The eye of the mirror with a man’s voice into which the Snow White’s Evil Step-Mother wonders: “Magic mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? “Snow White”. He says. King Oedipus ripped his eyes out because he knew that it’s all in the eyes. Maybe he had an extra eye... King Oedipus killed his father and had daughters and sons with his own mother. Unknowingly, sure...but, his children were also his siblings. That’s crazy... How do you act that character? How do you create that person? He drinks water. It’s all in the eyes. The lecherous look of the violator, the rapist, we learn it as children. Latin American Encounters | 67


Carlos Satizábal

Absolutely, we learn to undress, with our eyes, those girls soon-to be-women. These eyes, these looks, they gnaw at dreams, they evaporate our desire, our love... Sometimes, when I find myself seeing through those eyes... I want to pounce on them, my eyes, and rip them out so that I can see inside them. He mimes ripping out his eyes with his hands and looks at them. Analyze the pupil, the fragile sense of humour, the diminutive veins that carve their way in the whites of the eyes, the unnerving nerves that connect the eyes with desire, the brain, the blood. The eyes are the soft organs closest to the brain. 2cm. away. The ear is also quite close, but more-so the eye. For that same reason, it’s more risky to get a bullet in the eye than in the ear. But what I want to see is my eyes on the inside and understand what this look that undresses looks like. The violator looks at her again. That look: the macho, the rapist. From that first gesture that violently undresses, intimidates and violates with a stare, it’s a slippery slope for that macho into verbal aggression, insults, humiliation and physical violence. Beating. To threaten injury, pain, death. Weapons. And to confront whomever eyes his conquests, the sexual properties of the violent, whomever seems to desire, with those same lascivious eyes, at the women that the macho thinks of as his; his property, his woman, his bitch. He pounds the table, gets up and moves towards the enemy first, knife in hand. In character: “What?! What the fuck you think you’re looking at, punk?! You like? ha? Motherfucker?! (Blade). Here! So that your pussy-ass learns to respect another man’s woman...” He stabs him into corpse pose, knife in hand, he turns to her… And you? What’s with that dress, showing your...go put a fucking sweater on! He breaks the character, sits and drinks some water. The look is the first thing that needs to go, in terms of what we learn- as children- it is to be a man. To find a new masculinity, those eyes have to be ripped out: those eyes with the look of a rapist. And it’s strange, like I said before, the gaze is one of the basics of acting, to attempt to become one who one is not. To pretend that I am not me but someone else, there’s a sharp switch inside and I am Sharif, Mebbs, b., Claudio perseguido, or any other character I’ve ever played. I see through my eyes but with a different look, different from how I usually look. I see the 68 | Latin American Encounters


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world through that character. Because in theatre, I lend my eyes and my body to give life to that character. “Porque cuando yo veo las correas de las valijas, es como si viera sombras, elementos de un látigo que me azota indirectamente, de la manera más sutil y más horrible.” That’s from a letter that a Julio Cortázar character writes to a young lady in Paris. He’s describing Thursday, day one: the move into her flat that he’s sitting while she’s out of town and how when he sees luggage straps he sees shadows, elements of a whip that flog him indirectly in the most subtle and horrible manner. And that’s how his particular eyes see and therefore his very particular body react to living in his world full of shadows. I’d like to reiterate, the way we see and look is essential in acting, but also in the new masculinities: to become a new man we must tear the violence out from our eyes. He drinks water. He gazes, thinks. The Body, that’s another essential study in theatre. How does the body walk, how does the body move, how does the body sit, how does the body relish and desire? How does the body climax? How does the body give birth? How does the body nourish and give life to another body? The body and the positions of the body are cultural designs. How to sit, how to stand, how to walk, how to relate to nature, to others; how to enjoy, how to give birth... These are cultural designs. The body is designed by our culture. The body being a key question for an actor; a modern man should also ask himself the question in the interest of an alternative masculinity, the man with another gaze, another body. I ask myself, as an actor, as a profession: how do I become another man? How does that man look and see? How does he move? Does he move? What does all this mean? But we rarely ask ourselves this question, as a personal question, as a man: how does Carlos look? How do I, this Carlos, look and see and move? That is to say: Can I see as a modern man, a new man? Myself as someone else. Not me with the eyes of an intruder that were designed in my childhood. But rather me, with different eyes. Me-other. It’s only now, that this conference has asked me the question...that I ask myself... In a study at the University of Colombia, they asked approximately one thousand men “What does it mean to you to be a man?” And the majority answered immediately with a simple gesture: He stands up, points to his crotch, looks at it.. Breaks the gesture, sits and drinks water. The voice is another aspect that we study in theatre. We invent exercises to discover the voices within our voice. For example: the voice of an animal: a dog: woof! A cat: meow. A sheep: baaa. Latin American Encounters | 69


Carlos Satizábal

Or the breath of an asthmatic. (He imitates an asthmatic breathing with difficulty). In these games of imitation, one discovers that the most important, the most direct form of communication is the intention and the feeling. A dog baying at the moon. (He howls). Or to speak in an invented language, one that appropriates the musicality of an existing tongue: Chinese or Japanese. And to do it as a soldier or a samurai: He stands up and speaks in gibberish but with the cadence, rhythm and physicality of a Japanese Samurai. For an actor, above all else, is the subtext: that which lies in the intention and intonation of the voice: He spins and converts into the character of an abusive husband. “Where’s my dinner?” He mimes eating from a plate. He spits it out. “This is cold!” He throws the plate to the ground. Drinks water. Here, it’s irrelevant whether this character is hungry or not. What matters is what is behind his words. It’s all in the intonation of the voice. The myth: there is a myth in which our corporal culture is founded, the book of Genesis: Adam the believer and Eve the disobedient. This myth contains the deep roots of our corporal design: of a painful birth, of slave labour, of love as control and the looting of mother nature. To the woman He said: “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. “ That’s what God said to Eve in Genesis 3:20. He converts the gift and pleasure of giving life and the desires of love into curses that she must slave over. These curses are the mythical curses through which our patriarchal culture thrives, in them are written the tragedies and penances of our civilization: the penance of not understanding the languages of nature. This is key, because one, as an actor, knows that it’s all in the songs and the tone of the voice. He drinks water. Gazes, thinks. Throughout this next section, he reads from the page without lifting his eyes. 70 | Latin American Encounters


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“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe”. However, there are cultures in which childbearing is not severely painful. There are studies, in fact, that in a childbirth that is not so severely painful, a deep orgasm can occur: an orgasm of the uterus, a profound orgasm. The sexuality of the female body is very different from the sexuality of the male body. As men, we don’t know what it is to have an orgasm immediately after another; how to achieve a cascading orgasm, ceaseless, multiple, unstoppable. An unimaginable pleasure. But there are many women who orgasm this way, almost endlessly. And they give birth with pleasure, a pleasurable experience for the uterus, orgasmic. As a man, this, needs to be known. And above all, understood. The female body is multi-orgasmic. It is this that provokes hatred towards women. Pause. We’ve researched this that I am talking about, in feminist literature and through personal experience. I recommend, Pariremos con Placer (We will birth with Pleasure), by Casilda Rodrigañez. She has a website. Many websites promote her work and speak at great and clear length about this topic. The penance of women to give birth through severe pain is a central manifestation of hatred towards women, of the fear of the multi-orgasmic female body, the fear of their uterine potential, of the complexity and depth of their pleasure. The mono-theological patriarchal myth in the book of Genesis exists to control and oppress the female body: “I will make your childbearing pains very severe.” The patriarchal culture has also imposed some normal positions of the body: the way we walk, the way we sit. Many indigenous cultures don’t sit the way we do in our culture, in these seats so high up from the ground, that make us sit up straight. They have tiny little seats that make the knees go well above the hips. Like this. He sits 25cm from the ground, his legs open. A woman in this position would have a relaxed uterus. Her hips would be much stronger and broader and her spine would be straight and relaxed at the same time. But here, in our culture, women are taught as young girls to sit with their legs closed, squeezed tight: “sit properly, young lady, they’ll get the wrong idea”, you hear the matriarch say to the young girl playing while seated on the floor. Here, if a woman squats or sits with her legs open, her womb relaxed, she would be called provocative, indecent. But if a man sits this way; it’s normal. It’s macho. Women are forced to sit with their legs closed and their abdomen tense, so that her uterus will tense up and cramp. To avoid deep, profound orgasms. To control their bodies. So that they’re childbearing will be severely painful with violent contractions and spasms. He drinks water. We are also taught how not to breathe with our entire body. We unlearn the way we breathed from the uterus, how we breathed as babies. As adults we learn to breathe only with the top part of our lungs. Keeping the tension in the lower body. Also, we must have a flat stomach, to Latin American Encounters | 71


Carlos Satizábal

be beautiful women and men, to be desirable. An abdomen that is not flat and tight is undesirable. Were my friend here to say this, he could illustrate it more... He outlines a stomach bigger than his own with his hands. For me, this has been an integral discovery. Primarily, because I am an actor and in theatre I work with women who are also actors. In theatre, men and women train and stretch to relax the body, to broaden our mid-section, our stance, of different depths of breath. Secondly, because I have had to play a woman on stage before. Once, I played Clytemnestra in Agamemnon. In playing a woman, being a man, the biggest challenge is the physicality. The physicality that informs the character. He speaks to a man in the audience. Sir, imagine if you had to play a woman, a feminine character, feminine but not a caricature, or a parody but rather play a real woman, a real person...you, one, a woman... It’s very difficult. In one of the traditional forms of Japanese acting styles, that is the most challenging part for an actor and requires the most training: to be a woman, an Onnagata: the actor that plays a woman. Onnagatas play the women because in Japanese theatre, women cannot act. Just like ancient Greece. Clytemnestra was played by a man then too, for very different reasons than why I did it. Antigone. Medea, Cassandra, all of them were played by male actors. Always. In ancient Greece, women weren’t even allowed into the theatre to watch the women being played by men. They just needed to be beautiful, silent and obedient. He drinks water. The depreciation of women is also something that we learn and witness from childhood in our children’s books, stories that later become archetypes for stories that we see later in the theatre, on television and in movies. We mentioned before the magic mirror in Snow White. Now, let’s take a look at Little Red Riding Hood’s journey. “Take this cake and honey to your grandmother and don’t talk to anyone on the way.” But in the first crossroads for Little Red Riding Hood, she finds the big bad wolf, and just like Eve, the disobedient, red riding hood disobeys. And the big bad wolf tricks her: “This is the long way you’re on, I’ll teach you a shortcut.” The wolf goes ahead and eats the grandmother. It’s strange that the grandmother doesn’t recognize her own granddaughter’s voice. But we can suppose that the big bad wolf is a fine actor because he later tricks red riding hood again: “What big eyes you have. “So I can see you better”. “What a big mouth and teeth you have”. “To eat you better”. And he eats her. Now we need the woodsman to show up, the strong man, equipped with his axe, his weapon, so he can open the big bad wolf’s gut that digestively naps on his dinner of the grandmother and granddaughter together, and save them.

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Like prince charming in Snow White. And Cinderella. Sleeping Beauty too. All the good little girls in these stories, the princesses who are poorly treated, need a man to protect them, to save them. The good girls of the world can be tricked by whatever wolf or witch can deceive them. They are gullible, naive. That’s what these stories teach them as children. Quite the opposite of what is said about boys: David beats Goliath, saves the town and becomes a hero. These cultural patrimonies of the beautiful naive girl for whom we prepare our masculine voice and eyes must be denounced, abolished. The theatre that we create aims to undress these structures of power and violence, it aims to unveil the misery within that structure. For example: exposing ourselves to the misogyny and violence, articulating their hatred and madness. He points to the stage, preparing the scene ahead. In La Pasarela, a collective creation about violence against women, directed by Patricia Ariza, I play such a character. He takes off his shirt, revealing a bare chest. He puts on dark sunglasses, acting like a “man”, fist in hand. “She’ll be back, she deserved it, she knows, she knows she was asking for it, she likes it, but she’ll be back. Wait and see.” He breaks from the character. He wipes he scene away with his hand. The macho, as a character, articulating his structure of misery. I would like to think that this character and I have nothing in common. Certainly not that, fist in hand. Threatening and oppressing with a violent fist. No. But what about what’s behind his words and gestures? Pause. My partner, of course, has nothing in common with the woman that this character was talking about. She’s an actor as well. And together, we take care of a beautiful baby girl: Selva. This is her photo. Take a look. He hands a picture of the baby to an audience member in the front row. Pass it around. She’s very beautiful. When she was born, my friend, Carlos Satizábal, the one who was meant to speak at this conference, suggested that lovely name. Selva. It means jungle in Spanish. And he recited to my partner, Selvita’s mom, a few lines from Dante: “Questa selva selvaggia e aspra e forte que en el pensiero rinuova la pavura”. We named her Selva, the name of nature, of wilderness. Latin American Encounters | 73


Carlos Satizábal

Well, with that, I am nearing the end. Excuse me...un tinto, a coffee, en Colombia they call black coffee, tinto. In Uruguay, that’s what we call red wine. He reaches into the bag and takes out a thermos full of coffee. My lady, Nicola, Selvita’s mother, made my coffee this morning. We all call her Nikki, but that’s short for Nicola. He pours coffee into a cup and takes a sip. Damn, it’s cold. And it tastes like...but hey, it’s coffee. Any one wants some? I brought more cups He drinks. I make it better. Stronger. The coffee, of course. I also change Selvita’s diapers. He serves more coffee. He drinks. Hmm... Becoming a father has shown me different dimensions of being a man, to enjoy a different masculinity. I learned to enjoy the pleasure of changing my daughter’s diapers, of playing with her, of bathing her... He speaks of his daughter very emotionally, suddenly his voice begins to falter and his eyes swell up with tears of joy about to burst out ...of loving her, of taking her on walks, of watching her crawl around, of talking to her, of wondering what her first words will be. Of giving Nicola, her mother, my partner, time for herself. Of sharing with her the joy of educating and nourishing and being with her. With Selvita. Nicola enters NICOLA: Hi, sorry. Sorry to interrupt. It’s your turn and I’ve got a meeting. She puts a male nursing vest on him. 74 | Latin American Encounters


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CARLOS: Coffee’s great by the way. NICOLA (To the audience): Sorry. She exits. She helps my body to transform to one that nourishes and gives life. She comes back with the baby wrapped in a blanket, and a bottle which she gives to him so that he can get it ready for feeding. Nicola hands the baby to Carlos. He nuzzles her into his breast and waits to feel the relief of the connection. He exhales. Carlos and Nicola kiss goodbye and she exits apologizing to the audience again. CARLOS: Well, as you can see, I should probably finish now. I was almost done though there were a few things left to cover other than the voice, the look, the body, the stories, but... say hi, Selvita. Being a father has revealed to me one of the most unique perspectives of the question of what it means to be a man. A modern man, a new man. Taking care of Selvita is a unique pleasure. Becoming a father has transformed me. It’s a pleasure I wouldn’t know how to describe in words, just like this, as you see, with my baby, right mi amor? This pleasure is undoubtedly part of the new masculinities. I learn to be a different father, a father that enjoys looking after his daughter...Well, thank you very much. We’re gonna go now. Thank you. say bye, mi amor... Adiós. They exit.

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VISUAL CONTRIBUTIONS CONTRIBUCIONES VISUALES


Spring / Primavera 2013 | Volume 1 | Issue 1

LATIN AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS

Faces of Son Jarocho (Scratching the surface of a tradition) Alec Dempster1

“Faces of Son Jarocho” is part of a larger multidisciplinary project combining the documentation of oral history with portraiture, using the printmaking medium. The subjects are elderly musicians, singers and dancers from two neighbouring municipalities in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, whose lives have all revolved around Son Jarocho. This musical tradition has been an integral part of the culture of southern Veracruz since the 18th century. During the 1970’s there was a renewed interest in the rural expression of this music, led by a few influential groups and individuals who initiated what is now known as “El Movimiento Jaranero”. Jaranero refers to someone who plays the jarana. The jarana is a small guitar and an indispensable component of the son jarocho ensemble. During the past thirty years this music has spread far beyond the borders of Veracruz, sprouting up in numerous cities in the U.S.A. as well as Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg. The community based nature of the music, most evident in the fandango, has had a wide appeal. The fandango is a musical gathering around a dance platform called a tarima. Musicians, singers and dancers familiar with a set repertoire of sones gather around the tarima during fandangos which often start in the evening and continue uninterrupted, until sunrise. I began theses interviews in 1999 while making field recordings in the area around the town of Santiago Tuxtla, Veracruz and the musicians’ stories became just as important as the recording of the music. At the time, I was learning to play son jarocho so these conversations provided me with a deeper understanding of the genre and the culture. Initially, the interviews were conducted with musicians I was familiar with. After living in Santiago Tuxtla for almost a year, I was well known by musicians, which in turn facilitated the interview process. After deciding to create a series of 30 portraits, I begun including musicians from surrounding rural communities in order to form a more complete picture of the tradition in the region. There were specific topics I focused on which included poetry, the fandango, and the violin but the conversations tended to unfold in an organic manner. I didn’t arrive with a questionnaire at each interview nor was I sure who I would meet on my many trips into the countryside. Usually I made notes as to possible questions during the conversation. The circumstances varied in other ways as well. I met one old singer by chance on a bus. On another occasion, I was accompanied by one of the musicians I was learning from, and another interview involved several family members also asking questions based on stories they already knew. 1 Alec Dempster was born in Mexico City in 1971 and grew up in Toronto, where he lived until obtaining a visual arts degree from York University. His training is in printmaking, but also uses paper cut, egg tempera, encaustic and collage. In 1995 he moved back to Mexico, where he lived until 2009. Since then he has been based in Toronto, focusing on art and music. As an illustrator he has done magazine illustrations, CD and book covers, festival posters, educational materials, and logos. He has also collaborated with poets from the folk tradition in Mexico. He has had solo exhibitions in the United States, Canada, Mexico, France and Spain. He has been an artist in residence at Coronado Studio in Austin Texas and Saint Michael’s Print Shop in St. John’s Newfoundland. He has received government grants in Mexico to carry out printmaking projects. He performs with Toronto based son jarocho group Café Con Pan. Their recent CD “Nuevos Caminos a Santiago” was recorded in Toronto, Los Angeles and Xalapa. They are currently working on new material with the support of a Popular Music Grant from the Ontario Arts Council.

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Eva Baxin

Dancer from Buenos Aires Texalpan, municipality of San Andrés Tuxtla.

When I was a girl, the wedding ceremonies were very different from what they are today. A certain tree was chosen for the occasion and the groom had to chop it down so that the father of the bride could see that his son-in-law was capable. In the bride’s house the groom was made to eat a plateful of chili peppers. He had no choice but to eat them. The bride had to prove that she could make good handmade tortillas. First she had to grind the corn on a stone mortar. She couldn’t use anything like a tortilla press or even a plastic sheet. A young bull, bought by the bride’s family, was killed for the wedding. When I was married, Ignacio Bustamante played the violin. He had a little group and everyone played together. No one came from afar because we were a lot more isolated then. Each community had their own musicians.

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Faces of Son Jarocho

Bertha Llanos

Poet from Santiago Tuxtla, Veracruz.

My father died in 1955 and left me a lot of verses. He had a general store in a house made with long sticks above a ravine. He also sold aguardiente. Each cup cost two “centavos”. People would come and ask for hierba. To make it green he would add spearmint. He made a lot of different kinds of liquors using, for example, apples and quince. For the festivities he would prepare bottles of liquor made with an orange berry called “nanche”, which hasn’t become scarce like many of the other traditional preparations. For instance, he once bottled a drink made with a fruit called zapote domingo which you don’t hear of anymore. My father started writing poems when he was just a kid beginning to put words together. He finished third grade, having by then learned to read and write. He had dealings with the government when Lázaro Cardenas was president of Mexico in 1946. My father sang in Mexicano and in Spanish. Lots of well known singers like Dionisio Vichi and Feliciano Escribano bought his verses from him and these are still being sung in the fandangos today. Latin American Encounters | 79


Alec Dempster

Juana Rosario

Dancer form Tilapan, municipality of San Andrés Tuxtla

When we were just girls, I remember that many learnt to dance by tying a ribbon and balancing a glass of water on their head. Our mother who died when she was 110 would take us. I was about 10 when I started to dance, they would dress me up, put my flower on and we would go to the huapango. My mother would say to me: “yes daughter learn the huapango, that other dancing is ugly…, let’s go to the huapango for a while”. We never danced with a glass of water on our heads but we saw it. They danced nicely, they spread out their petticoats with a glass or a bottle on their heads without it falling. A huapango was held every week.

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Dionisio Vichi

Musician and singer from Santiago Tuxtla, Veracruz.

My family used to make baskets. After work I would play music. I learnt bit by bit until I got the hang of it. By the time I was 13, I was already accompanying the local girls during Christmas processions. I played a medium sized jarana which I bought myself because it upset my father when my brothers and I would fight over the little jarana he had given us. Sometimes when my brother was playing the jarana I would grab it from him. Once he got mad and smashed it against a post. I was still a little kid and started to cry. I told my mother that it didn’t matter because I was going to make my own baskets and sell them in San Andrés so that I could buy my own jarana. Everything was cheap back then. The baskets cost 12 centavos. The big baskets cost 24 centavos. We would take them to San Andrés where we could sell them for a bit more. We would walk because there was no bus. When we got there, we would buy things that we needed like clothes or a centavo of thread, a candy for a centavo or three centavos for some brown sugar. Latin American Encounters | 81


Alec Dempster

Esteban Utrera

Musician from El Hato, municipality of Santiago Tuxtla

Yes, back then we were paid ten of fifteen pesos (to play) and we were given strings. They were cursed. They left your fingers smelling the next day. No joke. They were Gut strings. Some had green ends and others had yellow ends. Lots of strings and for each song you played you had to put strings on! You bought a “gruesa” for each fiesta. Two dozen. If it was any old fandango, half a dozen, media gruesa, in order to last. Those strings were really awful. They lasted but it was likely that two or three would snap during each song and you had to change them. When Román Cobos played, by the end of the song his jarana would have no strings at all. When these (nylon) strings arrived they peeled the skin off his fingers. When these strings arrived, we bid farewell to those cursed smelly strings.

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Faces of Son Jarocho

Singer from Popoctépec,

Feliciano Escribano

municipality of San Andrés Tuxtla.

I am sixty eight years old and I started buying verses from Juan Llanos when I was 14. He was already an old man. A lot of verses are common because everybody knows them or has heard them before, but I had some created for special themes which I have hardly ever shared with anyone. A lot of people ask me for them but I keep them reserved. Every singer needs some verses like that to protect him/herself. Juan Llanos knew a lot more than just how to write verses. His knowledge stretched a long way. If someone recited a verse to him, he would respond by inventing another one without taking any time to think about it. His daughter doesn’t even have the verses I bought from him. She has sent for me because she wants the verses I have to complete her collection. These are verses from over a hundred years ago. A lot of people invite me to the fandangos but I don’t go anymore. You can ask any of my children, I used to go every Saturday. Latin American Encounters | 83


Spring / Primavera 2013 | Volume 1 | Issue 1

LATIN AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS

Yo No Soy Pichón Esery Mondesir

“Yo No Soy Pichón” (working title) is a five-minute work-in-progress narrative documentary. The film explores the concepts of cultural identity, nationality and citizenship by following a group of Cubans of Haitian descent as they prepare for a vodou ceremony. Sylvia Galdez, her son Dieuseul and her siblings left their native town of Santiago de Cuba eleven years ago to settle in a slum-like neighbourhood outside of Havana in search for a better life. Living precariously in the margin of the vibrant capital-city, the group’s resilience is sustained by their rock solid cultural heritage passed onto them by their parents and grandparents who fled Haitian political turmoil and poverty in the 1940s. While they have never set foot in Haiti, these “pichón de haitiano”, as they are derogatorily called by other Cubans, have proudly preserved the Creole language and have made the vodou religion a place of resistance and survival. “Yo no soy Pichón, yo soy haitiana” retorts Estella as her twenty-something-years-youngerthan-her lover refers to her as Pichón. But what does it mean to be Haitian, Cuban, Canadian or American? As the Cuban government relaxes the rules to allow its citizen to travel abroad, visiting Haiti would be the ultimate dream-come-true for Sylvia and her family. What would their experience in Haiti be like? Would they be disappointed or enchanted by this country that has inhabited their dreams and their fantasy for so long? “This is obviously a story close to my heart” says Esery Mondesir, the Haitian born director, “but I also believe that a lot of us who have experienced migration and exile can relate to it as well” he adds, as he continues to work on finishing the movie.

1 Esery Mondesir is a Toronto-based emerging filmmaker. Originally from Haiti where he worked as a High School teacher and a graphic designer, Esery spent the last 10 years working as a labour organizer with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of the largest and most powerful labour organizations in North America. In 2011, he left his position with the Union to focus on his filmmaking. He is currently in post production of “Yo No Soy Pichón.”

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Yo No Soy Pich贸n

Film by Esery Mondesir

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Spring / Primavera 2013 | Volume 1 | Issue 1

LATIN AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS

Sobre la Experiencia en Pintura Artista Invitada: Tania Iraheta1

Vendedora de Calas - Oil on canvas, 24x30

1 Tania Iraheta es una artista visual y educadora autodidacta que emigró a Canadá desde San Antonio, Chile en 1980. Tania tiene un diploma en Diseño Gráfico de George Brown College y en 2011 recibió un certificado de Artist-Educator del Royal Conservatory of Music. En los años 2010-2012 atendió The Toronto School of Art gracias al apoyo del Ontario Arts Council. Actualmente, Tania es instructora en Pinceles Latinos, un estudio de arte que ofrece programas de arte visual para latinoamericanos.

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Sobre la Experiencia en Pintura

Gladiolos - Oil on canvas, 24x30

Latin American Encounters | 87


Tania Iraheta

Valparaiso - Acrylic on panel, 16x20

88 | Latin American Encounters


Sobre la Experiencia en Pintura

Viene el Agua - Acrylic on paper, 15x23

Latin American Encounters | 89


Tania Iraheta

Tal vez el lector haya notado que Iraheta nos acerca a su pintura a través de lo que nos es más familiar, el orden de la experiencia espacio-temporal de lo cotidiano, para luego conducirnos a un universo que si bien nos es menos familiar no es por eso menos real. Lo visto, vivido, sentido, o recordado, es decir, los objetos de la memoria pareciesen ser los referente de la pintura de Iraheta. Sin embargo, al sopesar el conjunto de la obra aquí reproducida, nos damos cuenta de que es la pintura misma, es decir, los elementos que son propios de este medio, tales como el pigmento o el soporte hacia donde Iraheta quiere dirigir nuestra atención. ¿En dónde quedan entonces el agua en movimiento, la puerta amarilla, las vendedoras de flores y las flores, la vista de una ciudad? ¿No son acaso éstos los elementos que las pinturas representan? Sí, todos estos están aquí, sin embargo, lo están a la manera que la pintura hace posible. Frente a nosotros se abren cuatro espacios conceptuales en los que la abstracción hace posible que dos mundos, el de la memoria y el que se nos presenta como pintura, se encuentren. Esto es posible gracias a los que ambos comparten: color, luz, textura, profundidad, y materia. Si hay color, este es posible gracias a la luz; o si hay textura y profundidad, estos son posibles gracias a la materia en su encuentro con la luz. La obra de Iraheta es una invitación a que desliguemos la experiencia en pintura de la noción de representación y descubramos en ella su capacidad liberadora. Comentarista Invitada: María del Carmen Suescun Pozas, Profesora, Departamento de Historia, Brock University

90 | Latin American Encounters


LATIN AMERICAN ENCOUNTERS (LAE) SPRING / PRIMAVERA 2013 | VOLUME 1 | ISSUE 1 WWW.LATINAMERICANENCOUNTERS.COM JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN RESEARCHERS OF ONTARIO ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Latin American Encounters / Encuentros Latinoamericanos  

Journal of the Latin American Researchers of Ontario (LARO)