The Expo Guadalajara, headquarters of the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL), was protected by a human fence, particularly at its main entrance from early on. A few meters away from these dozens of people who, linked arms, formed a chain to prevent the passage of a large contingent of people who carried banners and delivered harangues against the president of the fair, Raúl Padilla López. Among the protesting procession were officials and legislators of the government of Jalisco.
“Padilla is going to fall,” they said. “Live on your knees, children of Padilla,” they sang. In the middle of these two angry groups, a group of grenadiers was placed to keep their distance and avoid a violent encounter as much as possible.
At the same time, inside the Expo, the inauguration ceremony of the 36th edition of the maximum literary meeting in our language began, whose Guest of Honor is the emirate of Sharjah and the Arab world, as well as the delivery of the FIL Prize for Literature in Romance Languages 2022, surrender of the Romanian poet Mircea Cărtărescu.
In the act, Raúl Padilla declared: “tell those who hold power, not to be fooled, their clothes do not exist, in reality they are naked”
He pointed out that the FIL was created 36 years ago, “in a country still mired in recurring economic crises, with an authoritarian regime of a single party and culturally centralized. That is why our fair was born as a cultural platform, yes, but also an educational one, for cultural rescue and freedom of thought. Today that we are practically relaunching our fair after the pandemic, some signs of that time seem to be made again. We are particularly sorry that it coincides with an authoritarian drift of the government of our state that is taking its intolerance to freedom of expression, criticism and demonstration to unprecedented levels.
Books, the press and universities, he added, “are usually uncomfortable for those in power and that is why they have laws that protect them. University autonomy, freedom of the press and freedom of expression are not handouts from benevolent rulers, they are institutions that have made possible the development of science, culture and the arts, the emergence of free societies and the rise of democracy. .
And he continued: “it is paradoxical that those who came to power using these rights and demanding them are now the ones who attack them and seek to prevent their exercise. This is not going to happen. From newspapers, books and universities, voices will continue to emerge that show the errors, omissions and incompetence of the governments in power, that document the failure of their decisions and the costs of their policies, that denounce the embezzled and wasted money in advertising; that they fulfill, in short, what has always been the origin of many authoritarian outbursts against them”.
“The FIL defends itself”
For his part, Ricardo Villanueva Lomelí, rector of the University of Guadalajara (UdeG), added: “Here are all of us who have great affection and loyalty to this fair, therefore, nobody is needed here.”
Later he expressed that “the FIL is bigger than the delusions of grandeur of any individual. It is much bigger than any governor who uses public power to try to stain it. No one can subdue or boycott the book fair, because the FIL was born as a patrimony of the people of Jalisco, but today it is already a patrimony of humanity. For this reason, when power threatens the FIL, we all defend the FIL, the poets defend it, the editors, its teachers and students defend it, hoteliers and taxi drivers defend it. We all defend FIL, but the most important thing is that FIL defends itself”.
Likewise, Padilla made reference to the electoral reform that is being cooked up by the federal government, by the way, with the presence of Lorenzo CordovaPresident of the INEin the presidium.
“Democracy is the diverse voices of free citizens who seek to influence decisions that concern everyone. Now that a political-electoral reform is being discussed in Mexico, it should be kept in mind that there is not a single higher opinion, idea or value, but an infinity of them and none can claim to prevail over the rest, even if it comes from the Palace. In a democracy, power does not take to the streets, it proposes and gives reasons, it seeks to persuade and agree. Their task is to protect freedoms, not undermine them; Strengthen democracy, not turn it into a simulation. Hopefully prudence, freedom of dialogue and democratic values prevail.”
The rest of the presidium was made up of Hugo Setzer, president of the National Chamber of the Mexican Publishing Industry (Caniem); Enrique Graue Wiechers, rector of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); Mircea Cărtărescu, winner of the FIL Prize for Literature in Romance Languages 2022; Massimo D’Alema, former Prime Minister of Italy; Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA); Peter Grohmann, resident coordinator of the United Nations in Mexico; Sergio Ramírez, Miguel de Cervantes Award 2017; Ahmed al Ameri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority and Director of the Sharjah International Book Fair; Alberto Pérez Dayán, minister of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN); Marisol Schulz, director of the FIL Guadalajara, and Silvia Giorguli, rector of El Colegio de México (Colmex).
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