Latin America has always had a vigorous and challenging cultural life. From the music in its poorest neighbourhoods to internationally-renowned writers and painters, every country in the region offers not only a rich cultural heritage but a lively present. What it has often lacked are government policies to promote its cultural wealth. In a piece specially commissioned by LAB, Nayana Fernandez questions the cultural activist Paul Heritage about the innovative approach to culture promoted by the Lula government in Brazil and continued by his successor. (Read more).
Music has always been one of the liveliest expressions of culture in the region. In El Salvador, young musicians and bands in rural areas are being encouraged by the group Music for Hope (Read more). In Venezuela, Pablo Navarrete writes on what he calls the ‘hip-hop revolution’ (Read more), while from Brazil rapper Mano Brown supports the struggle of the homeless and those fighting for land (Read more).
Equally, painting in Latin America has often been a way to claim public spaces for art. In southern Chile, one of the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros’ important murals, damaged in the earthquake, is being reclaimed for another generation of admirers (Read more). The tradition of muralism is now resurfacing in the region’s bold street graffiti artists: we showcase the work of the Argentine artist known as Rojo Roma (Read more).
Perhaps best known internationally are Latin American writers, who have had a huge impact throughout the world for the last fifty years or more. Their talent has been recognised through several Nobel Prizes, and here LAB’s Javier Farje offers his view on the Peruvian prize-winner Mario Vargas Llosa’s latest novel, The Dream of the Celt, recently published in English (Read more). In his piece, LAB’s Nick Caistor says goodbye to one of the region’s great writers who was not awarded the Nobel Prize, but has won followers throughout the world, the Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes (Read more), while the Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramirez salutes his Sandinista colleague and friend, the poet Ernesto Cardenal, who was recently awarded the prestigious Reina Sofia prize for his work over more than 60 years (Read more).
As in Nicaragua, culture in Latin America often implies a political struggle. Three films recently shown in Chile highlight the life of Victor Jara, a musician tortured and put to death for his music (Read more). And the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Evita on New York’s Broadway (with Ricky Martin as Che Guevara) has angered many Argentines who see the production as a travesty of history (Read more).