My diary note 17 prompted by the recent death of Nicanor Parra has led to two corrections by old friends, one about Nicanor Parra himself, one about the Chilean origin of some murals in Rotterdam.
As I wondered why I had invited Pablo Neruda instead of Nicanor Parra (whom I privately preferred) to Poetry International I mentioned the possibility of politically motivated gossip at the time. This brought a strong rebuttal from Laurence van Krevelen, whose testimony I value. He points out that Nicanor Parra (like his singing sister) was a fighter for freedom of the most sympathetic kind. Laurens has never read any accusation of crypto-fascism vis a vis Parra. Neruda was more narrow-minded. The rumour I heard was perhaps politically inspired gossip.
In the seventies Rotterdam had a left-leaning mayor and city council and the city was frequently visited by figures, intellectual or artistic or political, who were opposed to rightwing dictatorships in South America. Several of them passed through my office. Recollections are imprecise, and I am happy to correct them if they could lead to misunderstandings.
As to my inclusion of painters from Chile within the murals program of the Rotterdam Arts Foundation (of which I was the director at the time) I got the following clarification by Armando Bergallo, whom I mentioned and who now lives and paints in Aquitaine, France.
“In relation to the text where you refer to me I will like to clarify that I did not arrive from my country Uruguay as a political refugee. I came to Holland with my group ‘Taller de Montevideo’ in 1966 with an official invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Dutch ambassador in Montevideo, Adrianus Cornelis Vroom, who admired a lot our artistic work. In those times Uruguay was still a very democratic country. When a few years later this democracy was killed by the dictatorship we (Taller) decided to make our film ‘Las Semillas de la Aurora’ to denounce this situation. By then we were already established in Europe. This film was presented in Film International Rotterdam in 1973, on Dutch television by the KRO and in several international film festivals.”