Mirtha Racelis Mella: “We must appropriate ourselves and feel ourselves as ambassadors of culture in the world”

Mirtha Racelis Mella has become a defender and promoter of Dominican culture in Italy, to the point that she has assumed the role of president of the Dominican Association for Culture and Development ProMueveRD and of the Confederation of Dominican Associations in Italy (Confdominicana). Even so, his work with these entities only covers part of his efforts in favor of Dominican culture.

—What is the state of Dominican culture in Italy?

It is currently on the rise through cultural activities that are disseminated throughout the national territory. I am very satisfied because more people are always being activated in cultural fields, in different aspects such as dance, folklore … and more and more of us want the culture of the Dominican Republic to be known in Italy and abroad.

—How did ProMueveRD come about?

The ProMueveRD Association was born precisely because of the need for the Dominican Republic abroad to make itself known for its true essence. Many tourists who visit the Dominican Republic stay only in beach tourism, but we are much more than this. In Italy they teach us that cultural tourism can be of greater benefit and benefit to all citizens of the country that receives these visitors.

—What are the great challenges of promoting Dominican culture outside the country?

The biggest challenges are precisely breaking the concept that an island is only sun and sand. We have a huge and magnificent cultural heritage. We still have many things to develop and for which we can make ourselves known. Making ourselves known also from this point of view identifies us and is part of our country brand. The Dominican Republic is developing a lot at the tourism level and now there is also a country brand strategy that, like ProMueveRD, we would like to cover even more aspects than is currently foreseen.

– What should be taken into account when trying to publicize your works outside the country?

I understand that all promoters and artists must appropriate the culture. I always like to point out the example of bachata. This is a genre that is making us known, that is danced all over the world and there are still people who do not know that bachata belongs to the Dominican Republic. There is something that we, from ProMueveRD, also mark a lot that is the symbol of the fight against violence against women that resides in our heroine sisters, the Mirabal sisters. So that is also part of our country brand, it promotes our history and our values. I understand that all the people who are active in the cultural sphere should always appropriate more of what is ours and that which we have given to the world, to make it return to our country in some way. We must appropriate ourselves and feel like ambassadors of culture in the world.

—How was your work affected by the pandemic?

I’m a person who usually likes to think about how it helped us more than how it affected us. Naturally, we know that in some way it led us to transform ourselves because, in our case, part of our cultural and social activism is based on initiatives that are carried out in person. This was penalized, but we discovered with this new digital age that we can otherwise reach an audience outside of Italy. So we started to project culture not only in Italy, but also abroad, because in our initiatives, doing them on a digital level, other people can participate. In other words, we discovered a new world after the pandemic.

—Which of your achievements are you most proud of?

The one that fills me the most with pride is the issuance of the first postage stamp in Italy for the fight against violence against women. Unfortunately I understand that there is still a lot to do. There are still many cases of violence, the statistics are increasing instead of decreasing. However, that a Dominican woman in Italy has, through the Ministry of Economic Development, asked the State to issue a postage stamp for the fight against violence against women is a great achievement because it is a message that is sent throughout the world. Italian territory.