28 octubre 2008

november 13, Tegucigalpa (Honduras): The great shame

On 13th November 2008 the Museum of National Identity in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, will play host to an animal abuser: Guillermo Vargas. His work has provoked the indignation of more than four million people who have clearly seen that the impunity of his acts has been consolidated by the inefficiency, apathy, indifference or perhaps other “personal” reasons unknown to us, on the part of the organizations and authorities of Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras.

Four million people have requested the organizers of the event, MUA - Mujeres en las Artes (Women in Art), not to admit an animal abuser as an exhibitor. Guillermo Vargas has clearly demonstrated himself to be exactly that, the events which occurred in the Códice Gallery in Managua, with the complicity of the Director Mrs. Juanita Bermúdez, have corroborated it. Whether the dog died in the gallery or not is not the issue. One one side Vargas says yes, on the other Bermúdez says the opposite – neither are believable.

The photographs, and also a video which was on Utube (but which has now been removed), show that the dog was tied up in the gallery, and he certainly didn’t get there by his own free will; he had already endured the persecution of being chased until he was exhausted, an easy task bearing in mind that we are talking about a dog who was weak and sick to start with. The images of the dog tied to the walls of the gallery have travelled all over the world. Whoever thinks this is free publicity for Vargas might be right. No one had heard of this person before and his demonic face is now in everyone’s mind, these are the collateral effects of an international campaign which has had an unprecedented success. A publicist said to me: in this business there are good advertisements and bad advertisements, and Vargas will always be a bad advertisement, wherever he turns. Take note, officials of MIN and ladies from MUA. The internet is a huge data base and you are permanently on file there because of the acts you committed.

We have been exercising our right to demand a “minimal punishment” ever since October of 2007. For more than a year we have been sending letters and emails to the officials in Costa Rica and Honduras, as well as the organizers of the exhibition, and we have consistently received the same response – silence. We know that the barbed wire has caught in their skin, that the campaign of disdain has drained them all, the ‘artist’ as well as the entities which are participating in this global scandal. But they counted on the time factor, they thought that time would calm the “furies” - but it hasn’t gone their way by any means!!

They have put forward arguments, contradictory and false, always trying to justify what cannot ever be justified. Four million people cannot be mistaken and in any other country in the world their voices would have been heard. In the USA they only need 65,000 signatures, for the plea to be heard and to save the life of a dog.

The reasoning most often put forward by the Costa Rican authorities is that Vargas does not represent Costa Rica and therefore they are unable to do anything. This a patent lie. Every participant represents his country. "Panamá will come to Honduras with eyes brimming with tears for this great loss" - the Panamanian artist Gustavo Araujo will not be able to attend because he has passed on. As you see, it is clear and evident that Araujo was participating on behalf of Panama, and therefore Vargas goes on behalf of Costa Rica. We say to the Lady Minister of Culture of Costa Rica, you too have been untruthful.

As for Vargas’s patrons, Art Impresarios, whose President is Mr. Zurcher, there has not been the slightest hint of their rejecting him, in spite of the intervention of WSPA. The relationship between the "artist" and the "president" is worth looking into.

Those who could have paid attention to the voices of more than 4 million people are the organizers of the VI Biennale of Visual Arts of the Central American Isthmus, to take place in Honduras, Women in Art, but they have already shown their hand. In spite of our petition and the request of WSPA (the most prestigious world organization for the protection of animals) they are not going to reject him. But they assure the public that “the Association Women in Art "Leticia de Oyuela" and the Organizing Committee will not consent to, or permit, any actions to take place which go against human dignity, nor the exploitation, ill-treatment or abuse of animals as part of the proposals for this artistic and cultural event."

We knew this without you coming out on the stage to tell us. It was impossible for Vargas to have repeated his shown of an animal or a human tied up inside the museum. Here is an example:

"In November Tegucigalpa will host a number of great artists, and it will be the last showing in a Biennale by Gustavo Araujo, who has sent two paintings to be entered: “Map 3” (oil on canvas, 122 x 153 cm) and “Map 2” (polyptich made up of 8 pieces, 46 x 92 cm each, oil on canvas)."

The above was published in the Honduras Herald on 12th October 2008. If Araujo sent his work in more than a month ago, the conditions will be the same for all the participants. Could anyone think that Vargas, a month ago, would have been able to submit a dog, or a human being, to the organization? All this has been nothing more than "gaslight" so as not to make this open admission: we acknowledge what Vargas did, he is an abuser but he will not repeat his act (something impossible by definition), we are going to welcome him to the VI Biennale of Visual Arts of the Central American Isthmus. Consequently, he remains legally unpunished, and further, he is ‘spoiled’ by the organizers. He himself said he was “happy to represent his country”. What a disgrace, Sirs, if you had the slightest trace of dignity you would prevent this prize being given to someone who today is an animal abuser and tomorrow who knows what he will be . . .?

Let us remember this: The basic tenets of the Central American Biennale state that “two months before the official opening the works must be packed and shipped to Tegucigalpa, where the curators of the Museum of National Identity will be responsible for hanging the exhibition". If Women in Art receives the pieces “two months before the show” they are absolutely sure of the contents of the works to be shown. If any of the works goes against human dignity or shows exploitation, ill-treatment or the use of animals, rejecting it is academic. They don’t need to “create” a new clause, and if they did so, it should have read “ The Association Women in Art "Leticia de Oyuela" and the Organizing Committee will not consent to, nor permit that works be presented by artists who have committed actions of violence against human dignity, nor the exploitation, ill-treatment and abuse of animals as part of the proposals for this artistic cultural event."

The International Community has done everything possible to prevent this, the most recent action being to send to the organizers and other officials a piece written by María José Yglesias Ramos, acting with the authorization and in representation of :

Jaime Sancho, author of the Online Petition with more than four million digital signatures to the following: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/ea6gk/petition.html, Members of the Forum of Illustrators of Costa Rica GAMA, ANPA The National Association for the Protection of Animals, AHPRA the Honduran Association for the Protection of Animals and their Environment, and APA the Animal Protection Association in Nicaragua.

With this document the campaign comes to an end, we no longer expect of hope for any rectification on the part of the organizers, even less so bearing in mind that the following information has filtered down to us: We know in advance who is going to win the Biennale. Guess who? The really sad part about it is that the rest of the participants are going along with this pantomime.

The jury of the international community, made up of more than 4 million people, has reached its verdict. The sentence remains to be passed.

Jaime Sancho


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