The death of Ernesto Cardenal, at 95 years  of age, a ‘poet , monk, revolutionary’ as he was describing his identity, has been, and will certainly be further, celebrated by many comments and profiles focused with highly diverse accents on his many lives, as protagonist of the political and cultural history of his country, Nicaragua, and as one of the most original poets of the Latin-American and world literature.

Ernesto Cardenal has been for us most importantly, since the early Seventies, one of the closest friends and collaborators through his presence in the second Russell Tribunal as witness of the tragic repression of the Somoza dictatorship and of the victorious resistance and struggle of the people of Nicaragua, and as one of the founders (with among others Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, Eduardo Galeano) of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT).

With the richness of his experience in creating and promoting uniquely participatory and innovative culture and practice of liberation in the marginal communities of Nicaragua, Ernesto has represented most effectively the inspiratory vocation, the goals, the role of the PPT: the translation of the principles of the fundamental human and peoples’ rights into the voice and the life of the concrete communities. Each of the Sessions of the PPT  – which have been convened on the world scenarios of repression, struggles for self-determination, experiments of democracy of the last 40 years –  could be seen as the continuation ,and diversification according to the specific political and cultural contexts of each people, of those “talleres de poesia” (laboratories giving voices of consciousness and dignity to those who have been deprived of such right) which he promoted as minister of culture as universally accessible instruments of democracy.

His capacity, till the end of his life, of combining the strength of a political resistance to any re- affirmation of dictatorship with the broadening of his poetical vision and language  – through his latest “Cánticos” which celebrate the dream and the beauty of a cosmic new creation – remain, not only for the PPT, a long term gift and challenge.

Gianni Tognoni

 

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