Today I am going to write more about lunch with the writer, Elena Poniatowska.
Elena Poniatowska is a firm supporter of Mexico’s recently-instated president, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). In fact she has been his advocate since 2006 when he ran against the victorious PAN candidate. It is generally agreed that AMLO lost that election because of fraud. The same is said about the following race in 2012 when he lost to the PRI. And yet, 18 years after the first campaign, Andrés Manuel’s newly-formed MORENA party won the presidency, as well as a majority in the Congress and the Senate.
In the past I have compared Mexico to a candy store. 25% of the citizens could walk right in – and they did so – taking away whatever they wanted. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the population had to stand outside the candy store, unable to do more than watch the country´s wealth disappear into private foreign bank accounts and the corrupt socio-political system. Elena knows that AMLO will not make all the people happy, all the time. Most probably, his high goals will not all be accomplished, but for the FIRST TIME in decades, there is hope on the faces of Mexicans who have endured so much injustice.
Elena’s eyes smile as she pours a generous shot of tequila for Jorge, me, and the other two guests. Michael Schuessler, UAM professor and author is one of them – such an affable man – he had just returned from Burma with an abundance of observations and insights.
We all toasted our new president and the start of what we sincerely hope will be a transformation in the country. While enjoying our meal of salmon in caper sauce, Elena told us about her family and the foundation she has started.
The Elena Poniatowska Foundation, located at Av. José Martí 105, Escandón I Secc, 11800 Ciudad de México, CDMX, is a cultural center and the repository of her personal library, correspondence, photographs and other memorabilia. She explained that many of the acclaimed artists and writers she has known have sold their archives to foreign universities. But when she told her son, Felipe, that she had been approached by an American buyer, he agreed that her work should stay in Mexico. Earlier in the week Jorge and I went to visit the new installations. The staff enthusiastically showed us around, and seem eager to make the foundation grow. It obviously pleases Elena to know her legacy is in good hands.
She looks serene. And so she should. At 87 years of age, the time has come for others to carry the torch. Her husband, Guillermo Haro died some years ago, but she has three children and lots of grandchildren to spend wonderful hours with.
I was surprised to see some of the canvases she has been working on. I did not know she paints. I didn’t get a chance to ask her, if like me, she thinks her time spent at the easel helps develop her writing? And I wish I’d asked if she paints with her grandchildren?
I don’t know when Jorge and I will go again to Mexico City, but whenever that is, it will be all the more special if we get to spend another afternoon, in Elena’s delightful company.
Tomorrow I will continue with another story about our trip to Central Mexico. Most people know how much Jorge and I love artisan markets – and on our last day in Mexico City we discovered a new one – set up in a parking lot.