by Gorka Vega
May 12, 2010
Nicaraguan poet and priest Ernesto Cardenal feels it is essential that humankind be freed from "capitalist exploitation" in order to survive and he argues that God created man as a socialist being whose aim should be to build a "perfect society" under the banner of equality.
In an interview with EFE, on the occasion of his participation in "II Mayo Poético" ("Poetic May II") organized by the University of Almería, Cardenal, a former member of the Sandinistas and a supporter of liberation theology, reflects on the current socioeconomic situation and the direction that humankind should take, while demanding a more social role for the genre of poetry.
Despite his disagreements with the church hierarchy, Cardenal defends his status as a priest and, at 85, he admits that he only cares to be remembered "by God."
Question: Is poetry a political tool?
Answer: Of course it is, and I think it always should have been.
Q: Has poetry lost the spirit of denunciation?
A: Poetry hardly says anything anymore, it has neglected its mission of denouncing, and for the last two centuries has been reduced to the intimate, the personal, the subjective. Poetry is also prophecy in the sense that it is announcing a better world, while denouncing the present filthiness. This is the poetry of the Bible, which has been the main poetry of humanity.
Q: Is it possible to eliminate inequality in the world?
A: God created the world to be perfect.
Q: What can we learn from the current global economic crisis?
A: I think we should learn that capitalism needs to end because it is bad for humanity. To survive, humanity must liberate itself from capitalist exploitation.
Q: And where should we go?
A: There are only two systems: capitalism, which is private property, and socialism, common property. God created us to have common property.
Q: How do you analyze the progress of the political left in Latin America?
A: It is part of the evolution of humankind. We were created for socialism, for equality. God made us socialists.
Q: You have been very critical of the church hierarchy. What changes does the Church need?
A: I am critical like the prophets of the Bible, who were also critical of the religion of Israel of their time, and like Christ was of the religion of His people. Christians have to be critical of the Church, that has the errors and sins of ancient Israel. We must continue denouncing it.
Q: What do you think of the current pope, Benedict XVI?
A: I think he is the same as the previous one, or even worse.
Q: How do you imagine society five or six generations from now? Will we have improved?
A: I don't know in how many generations, but I imagine a society that will be perfect.
Q. How would you like to be remembered?
A: Just to be remembered by God.