Thursday, December 1, 2016

Why Leonardo Padrón Stayed

From the standpoint of the artist, writing in particular, freedom is of the utmost importance. The ability to create works that accurately depict the experiences of one group, country or humanity as a whole is the essence of what it means to be an artist. However, under strict governmental control, this restricted freedom gravely threatens the sanctity of the art world.

As discussed in class, the Venezuelan government is notorious for their restriction of artistic freedoms. This has stifled the genius of some of the nations most important creative minds, causing many to seek asylum in other countries to continue creating the work they desire. And frankly, that is what I would expect them to do and would likely do myself. Though some of the world's best works were born out of suffering and oppression, today that is not the norm nor the only option for many. Like Leonardo said, many of Venezuelan artists have emigrated to countries like the United States in order to continue creating the works they love while still being able to showcase them to their audiences without fear of persecution by the government.

But he stayed. Leaving only the question, why?

His answer in our in-class interview with him was not only inspiring but also very unexpected. While he lamented that he understood why other artists would leave, he admitted he didn't consider it an option. As a man who is considered an enemy of the Venezuelan state - one who hasn't been able to broadcast his works in several years - you would think he would find the next flight to Miami and start over. But that was not his thought process at all.

His rationale for staying in Venezuela is that it is his home. It's where his "loves" are. In his own words (more or less), "to abandon your country in tough times is like leaving an orphan to fend for itself". In his mind, the more Venezuelans with passion for their mother country who leave and bring their genius and talent with them are doing the country and its people a great disservice. So instead of seeking creative asylum, he remains in Caracas to defend the country he holds so dearly to his heart. Instead of finding freedom elsewhere, he fights for freedom of an entire country.

Not only is that the more difficult option, but the much more inspiring. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to hear his story, and those of the many other famed artists within the telenovela world, in this class. But this instance in particular really showed me how telenovelas are truly the intersection of media, culture and society.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Elizabeth--I, too, was struck by Leondardo's resilience and loyalty to his country. We often forget or take our own rights for granted in the United States because we have never faced the hardships imposed by a dictatorship like that of Venezuela. Talking to Leondardo really puts things in perspective, especially when he was talking about the protests he attended in NYC shortly after the election of Donald Trump. I thought it was interesting how he was surprised that people were actually protesting an election that a candidate won clearly through the electoral college vote. He said that typically, Venezuelans will protest action taken by the government that they were opposed to, not elections that were clearly cut and dry. The protest culture in Venezuela and the United States differs a lot in these respects. We tend to protest things that are out of our control like the fair election or Occupy Wall Street. These protests had a lasting impression, but what difference did we really make? Leonardo's perspective makes me wonder if we need to reconsider what it means to protest and take action against something we citizens believe to be unjust. However, its not a fair comparison to make between Venezuela and the United States because we have never experienced a dictatorship to that magnitude, but it at least makes us reconsider what we are thankful for.