Letter from 2boys

In response to the Open Letter to Sandra Lorenzano, UCSJ

Please post and forward to anyone concerned.

In light of the recent open letter from Diana Taylor of the Hemispheric Institute to Sandra Lorenzano, Vice-Rector of the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, we would like to corroborate certain statements and to provide, in brief, specific information concerning the negative impact of this cancellation.  We have refrained from making any statement, thus far, out of respect for the Hemispheric Institute in their efforts to handle the fallout from this unfortunate turn of events and to reschedule the Encuentro.  However we welcome Diana’s call to action as we are eager to break our silence concerning this matter with the hope that it will encourage others to speak to the disastrous timing of the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana’s decision and to the cavalier manner in which this decision was executed.

While we are heartened to know that the meeting has been relocated to Sao Paolo in January 2013, the Mexican cancellation has been nothing short of cataclysmic for us and for many of our colleagues and collaborators. The cancellation of the Encuentro represents a lost investment of over $10,000 for the two of us and this figure doesn’t account for additional time spent managing the consequences of this incident.  Our participation in this year’s Encuentro demanded collaboration from many individuals and organisations and it remains to be seen whether it will be possible for us to raise the support we would need to attend the conference in Brazil.

We are also troubled by the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana citing growing political and security concerns in Mexico as the reason for their withdrawal.  We have been living in the Federal District since early February and have attended plenty of large-scale public and political events where there has been no incidence of violence.  Indeed, people here seem poised for discussion and public forums, especially considering that it is an election year.  Considering statistics that tell us that Mexico City is safer than many other cities, including Chicago; and considering the warmth and generosity with which we have been greeted by friends and strangers alike, the excuse of security threats seems spurious and ill considered at best.  At worst, it seems to be a cynical play on this city’s already undeserved reputation for violence.  It is unforgivable for an educational and cultural institution to circulate false and damning information about the community it is supposed to serve.  Though it is clear – both in what is and isn’t stated – that the University’s motivations for cancelling are political.

Moreover, we are referring to an event that has occurred in other large cities where the stakes were arguably much higher.  It is a meeting of peers who come from a myriad of backgrounds.  Past Encuentros have been attended by performers, academics and intellectuals who have survived terrible odds, thrived in the face of adversity, dictatorships and unspeakable oppression.  Other, more fortunate attendees have traveled all parts of the world, crossing into zones of conflict and visiting communities and cities where threats to personal and public security are indeed very high.  It is astonishingly presumptuous to assume that somehow these guests are unable to handle themselves in Mexico City at this time.  All of this begs the question:  What kind of event was the Vice-Rector imagining when she proposed to host the Encuentro?

In closing, we would like to encourage other participants to give voice to their own experiences and to take action to assure a continued dialogue, with the hope that someday soon the Encuentro will come to this truly amazing city.


Aaron Pollard and Stephen Lawson


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