We had exclusive access to the broadcast corresponding to 7 May 2023 of the only radio programme on sexual diversity and HIV, Siempre Viva en Vivo on Radio Universidad de Chile, produced and hosted by the activist and social communicator Víctor Hugo Robles, El Che de los Gay. Geraldine Mardones Lemebel, niece of the late writer Pedro Lemebel and ‘illegitimate’ daughter of the artist’s brother, Jorge Mardones, was interviewed on the programme.
Geraldine pointed out that she knew Pedro Lemebel and his paternal family in particular, and that in 2015 she took a DNA test to prove that she is the daughter of the brother of the author of Tengo miedo torero. Geraldine formed a relationship with her sister Daniela Mardones, Lemebel’s ‘legitimate’ niece, at a very young age. However, Daniela cut off relations with her sister after the narrator’s death, for economic reasons. In fact, Geraldine has recently taken legal action with her lawyer to be recognised as the legal heir to everything that involves her father and also Pedro Lemebel.
In this regard, Geraldine indicated that she seeks the democratisation of her uncle’s work, despite the fact that her half-sister, Daniela, wants to keep her away from Lemebel’s legacy.
Due to this family dispute, Víctor Hugo Robles reported that the publishing house Planeta suspended all new reprints, publication and distribution of Pedro Lemebel’s most important books, as confirmed by Geraldine Mardones, who added that she received an email in which the publishing house requested that she reach an agreement with her half-sister to continue reproducing the writer’s work. However, she declared that “this agreement was not in my favour, so it did not materialise”.
Geraldine’s lawyer, Felipe González, explained that his client, in addition to Daniela, her brother and her mother, “form a hereditary community within which Pedro’s work is found. This is because Pedro’s heir was Geraldine and Daniela’s father, who died and therefore bequeathed his assets to his heirs. As it is a community, there is no designated administrator and, consequently, the heirs as a whole must make all the decisions,” adding that, “unfortunately this has not happened. We understand that, until now, the administration has been carried out by Daniela, without the permission, consultation or authorisation of Geraldine. Daniela did not even inform the publisher of her father’s death, and continued to receive payments directly, without Geraldine’s legal representation. To this day, Daniela has not informed us about the financial status of the income from the writer’s work and, what is worse, she filed a trademark with the National Institute of Industrial Property (Inapi) called ‘Lemebel’. Although it is a trademark that, by itself, does not allow her to exploit Pedro’s work, it seems to have worked for her”.
González said that together with Geraldine, “we have always been in a position to negotiate the promotion of the artist’s work at all levels, nationally and internationally, but we have only found the same response: Daniela wants Geraldine out of everything in exchange for meagre amounts of money. Well, due to the non-agreement between the parties, the publishing house Planeta has stopped the sales of Pedro Lemebel’s books, because the contracts have not been renewed for a long time. In the absence of an administrator of the inherited community or an agreement between the parties, there is no one who can make decisions regarding the work without consulting the others. In that sense, for example, we do not know the agent who is translating Peter’s texts, because he does not have Geraldine’s authorisation”, and added that, “against our will, in cases like this we can request a partition of the assets, a procedure that we have already initiated by requesting the appointment of a partitioning judge. The other party has forced us into this situation, which we really don’t want.
Finally, Víctor Hugo Robles said, “Geraldine is fighting to free Pedro Lemebel’s work. I think it is essential to safeguard his literary production as part of everyone’s heritage. I dare to request the parties in question, Pedro Lemebel’s hereditary community, to try to reach a conciliation, both for their sake, and for the sake of the arts, culture and the people, as he would always have wished”.
*The photograph was provided by Víctor Hugo Robles, of which he is the author.