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Zafra City Council cancels the Dulce Chacón award after the controversy with the writer’s family | Culture

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The mayor of Zafra (Badajoz), Juan Carlos Fernández, of the Popular Party, has ordered this Monday to cancel the Dulce Chacón Prize for Spanish Narrative. The decision comes a week after the writer’s family informed the mayor in writing that they were withdrawing the name due to “the elimination by the council of the values ​​of dignity, solidarity and justice”, according to a letter to which EL PAÍS had access. “The City Council does not have to and should not support with public funds the exaltation of specific values ​​and the vital and aesthetic trajectory of a person, however praiseworthy they may be, if this prevents, as is the case, other authors with other equally valid principles from being eligible,” Fernández said in a press conference. “It is a shame that this prize is disassociated from the Zafra City Council,” Inma Chacón, the writer’s sister, told EL PAÍS, “but it will not be disassociated from Zafra and its citizens, but from its current mayor. In fact, he is the one who has disassociated himself from the award.” The family announces that on July 19, in Mérida, they will give the details of what the new Dulce Chacón award will be like.

“In Mérida we will announce the same prize,” says Inma Chacón, “the prize that the mayor of Zafra has rejected will be awarded by another institution from Extremadura. We are waiting to define the bases so that there is no doubt about the types of jury,” she told this newspaper, “I cannot say some things yet, but I can say that the prize will grow a lot.”

On May 28, the mayor eliminated the values ​​of “dignity, solidarity and justice” from the award’s rules and removed the jury of experts and popular members. “We understand that, by removing the third rule of the award that we gave permission to bear our mother’s name, the spirit with which the award was born is being eliminated, since said nullified rule specifies that the jury must not only evaluate the literary quality of the selected works, but must also take into account their human content, so that they are linked to principles such as dignity, justice and solidarity, thus trying to associate the award with the life and aesthetic career of Dulce Chacón,” said the letter signed by Dolores Alonso Chacón, María Chacón Alonso and Eduardo Alonso Chacón, “as children and heirs of Dulce Chacón and Mrs. Inmaculada Chacón Gutiérrez, as testamentary and literary executor of Dulce Chacón.”

Fernández added that it was “a prize made to measure for the values ​​of a certain sector” and that with its new rules “left-wing authors were also going to be presented, because perhaps what is substantiated here is whether it is a right-wing or left-wing prize”. Regarding the elimination of the popular jury, he pointed out that “it never existed”, arguing that it was not included in the rules. The jury was made up of readers of Zafra, of some 16,600 inhabitants. “It was an ethereal thing, we did not know how it was regulated, who was this jury, how was it decided? Nothing appeared in the rules of the prize, and everything was opaque”, Fernández has defended since last May. But the sister of the author of The sleeping voice He assured that the vote of any resident of Zafra was one of the particular hallmarks of the award.

Fernández defends the fact that these changes were not consulted with Dulce Chacón’s heirs because “it is a prize from the City Council, not from the family.” “And for greater operational efficiency, to obtain some bases that would simplify the procedure and save costs,” he added. The mayor also assured that he has a legal report that ensures that he could continue using the name for this prize. “He does not have any legal document that allows him to use the name Dulce Chacón, he does not have any signature from the family to use it. If he uses it, there would be a lawsuit. That right belongs to his children,” Inma Chacón replied.

The decision of the PP municipal government to change the rules was rejected by several former winners, as well as friends of the writer, who signed a manifesto criticising Fernández’s actions. Dolores, María and Eduardo, Chacón’s children, headed the 300 signatories. The mayor said during the press conference that he felt like “a victim of a campaign absolutely orchestrated by those who sought to bend his will and discredit him through media pressure.”

“In Mérida, the capital of Extremadura, we will announce the new Dulce Chacón award and we will tell you about this whole sad process. I cried this morning, the name of Dulce Chacón should never have been involved in this conflict,” explained Inma Chacón, “For 20 years it has been involved and there has never been a conflict until this mayor arrived. It is very sad that because of one person, an award that was born in Zafra to honour her memory should disappear.”

The Dulce Chacón award, which this year reached its 19th edition, was created 20 years ago in homage to the writer and poet from Zafra, author of, among other works, The sleeping voicewill be replaced by the Ciudad de Zafra narrative award, which the PP included in its electoral programme and which will be financed “exclusively” with municipal funds.

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