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02 / 09 / 2004
Juan Goytisolo, writer: We need to have a broader vision of the world to realize what’s coming at us

The Forum’s “141 Questions” (115): “The Strait of Gibraltar: Cultural Bridge or Barrier?” Juan Goytisolo answered by saying that talking about a bridge or a barrier is a “delusion” because the strait “is a fracture, an abyss”. He stated that culture is also “the sum of the external influences received” and pointed out that receiving countries should not “succumb to hysteria or the fear of losing their soul” in the face of the phenomenon of immigration. Contrary to any Immigration Act, Goytisolo advocates the search for specific agreements and constant dialogue with associations that represent different groups of immigrants.

More information about 141 questions - Straits of Gibraltar, bridge or frontier between cultures?

More information about Human Movements and Immigration

Writer Juan Goytisolo stated, this evening at the Haima Stage, that “at the bottom of the sea lie 3,000 cadavers” and, therefore, the Strait of Gibraltar “is a fracture, an abyss, that is far from being a bridge nor a barrier.” He insisted that the arrival of immigrants should not become a race against bureaucratic obstacles and called for specific, periodic agreements that respond the a reality that is changing on a daily basis: “The problem will never be resolved by applying Immigration Acts that are impossible to apply and unjust. The migration taking place through the world is unpredictable; millions of people are on the go.”

After stating that culture is also “the sum of external influences received”, Goytisolo denied that immigration poses any sort of threat: “We have to avoid succumbing to hysteria and the fear of losing our soul.” He spoke of the “long lines of people that are waiting for just the right moment to make the jump.” He insisted that the situation, far from being a cause of “fear”, requires constant dialogue with associations that represent all sorts of groups of immigrants: “We need to help them learn Catalan, Spanish...We need to be aware of the fact that there will be new Catalans and Spaniards. Spanish culture declined when it sought out pure blood.”

"We have to have a broader vision of the world to make us realize what's coming at us." The writer Javier Goytisolo is convinced that any solution is found from understanding the enormous complexity of the problems that affect the world. He demanded for an end to "the constant hiding of information" so that everyone has access to the essential knowledge in order to analyze everything that goes on around them. "According to the PP government, the terrorist attack in Casablanca against the House of Spain is due to the fact that "Spaniards consume alcohol." It was the first warning against Spain's participation in the war on Iraq, but they didn't want to admit it. To believe that we are safe with politicians like Bush or Aznar is to live on another planet." Goytisolo, in the chapter on information that is never disseminated, spoke about American bulldozers that, in the first Gulf War, buried the lives of hundreds of Iraqi soldiers that had already given in, or to the "atrocities" committed in Russia in Chechenia. He also criticized the lack of knowledge that the Western world glories in, "The old colonizers knew more about the countries they occupied than the countries´ own inhabitants. The United States ignored everything about Iraq. They let them get rid of the Museum of Archeology and preserve the Ministry of Petroleum, so that, on the other hand, their motives for occupation were made clear from the beginning."

Juan Goytisolo stressed that he hates weapons and warned that Islam cannot be referred to as a generic term. He stated that terrorism always responds to very clear causes–“not seeing them is the result of extraordinary blindness.” He took a moment to analyze the term: “In my opinion, the Palestine who kills an Israeli soldier in the occupied territory is a resistor, not a terrorist.” As regards Palestine, Goytisolo stated that the situation is completely unfair and that the conflict can only be resolved “by returning to strict international legality.” While on the subject of squabbles and revenge, Goytisolo mentioned the anti-Semitic persecutions in Spain during the Inquisition.

Juan Goytisolo was born in Barcelona in 1931 and has lived in Marrakech for years.

He is the author of Juegos de manos (1954), Duelo en el paraíso (1955), Fiestas (1957), La resaca (1958), Señas de identidad (1966), Reivindicación del conde don Julián (1970), Juan sin Tierra (1975), Makbara (1980), Paisajes después de la batalla (1982), Las virtudes del pájaro solitario (1988), among other novels. He has also written essays (De la Ceca a la Meca) and journalistic books like Cuaderno de Sarajevo, in which he explains his stay in the Bosnian capital as one of the few Western intellectuals who lived the experience first hand. He has always gone against the grain in the world of culture and is the first Spanish writer in decades who speaks Arabic and defends Moroccan rule over Western (formerly Spanish) Sahara.