Photo: Arturo Campos Cedillo for La Jornada Jalisco
ON MARCH 31st, 2012, the poet and translator Guillermo Fernández García was found beaten to death in his apartment in the central Mexican city of Toluca. His mouth had been taped, his hands tied. Computers and other valuables were allegedly left untouched. In addition to his own poetry, Fernández was widely admired for his translations of Italo Calvino, Alberto Moravia, Natalia Ginzburg, Antonio Tabucchi, and many others. An anthology of his work is online here. He was 79 years old.
Dolores Dorantes, who wrote the eulogy reprinted below, is a poet and journalist. Until March of 2011, she lived in Ciudad Juárez, where she worked promoting autobiographical writing among marginalized, vulnerable and incarcerated women. After receiving death threats, Dorantes was forced to leave Mexico and the city in which she had lived for 25 years. Estilo, her most recent book of poetry, was published in Mexico last year and can be read online here. Her opinion columns, criticism, and investigative work have been published in many Mexican newspapers, including Diario de Juárez, El Norte, and Día Siete.
Translated by Ben Ehrenreich
I'VE TOLD YOU BEFORE about this sensation of being a kind of soul in sorrow that has died without realizing it. But it's not my own death that I want to talk about here. It's the death of the poet Guillermo Fernández. One less. I didn't plan to start a countdown of people I esteem who disappear, they just keep going like this, as if a giant took a swipe and erased them from the map. Worse than that: Guillermo didn't die of a heart attack. He didn't die as he lay in bed reading, just as he was falling asleep. The death of Guillermo Fernández was intentionally cruel. The reports indicate that they meant to rob him and, incidentally, I suppose, happened to take his life. I've been hearing the "robbery" theory since Felipe Calderón came to power: one "robbery" after another. Not just of poets but of activists, politicians, journalists, kids. And I've heard the "it-must've-been-something" theory that converts the victims of crimes of the State into criminals who deserved to die. An attorney general in Chihuahua once used a stupid sentence — "Don't think about it as one more death, it's a question of one less criminal" — that Calderón is now trying to sell ... to what society? To the imaginary society of his imaginary country where the rivers of blood are not rivers of blood but an unending candy rainbow? We've had "one-less-criminals" who were two and three years old. Two-less-criminals who headed the Department of the Interior. Do we really believe in Mexico that the dismembered son of Javier Sicilia was "into something"? That they tried to "rob" (and murder) Norma Andrade, because, surely, she was "involved in something shady"? And that, surely, the poet Susana Chávez must have "shot a nasty look" at her drinking companions, who took advantage of the gesture to beat her ...read more