After the fair closes here in Caracas November 19, it will travel for the first time ever to each of the country's 23 states, including those in the Amazon and other remote regions.
"Our starting point is our conviction that reading and writing are social activities," said Ramón Medero, president of the National Book Center (CENAL), at the opening ceremony. CENAL is the government institution responsible for promoting and distributing literature.
"We are rescuing books from the mediocrity to which they had been subjected," said Medero. "With books we want to awaken the consciousness of the people."
Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez presided over the opening ceremony. Speakers included Francisco Sesto, Venezuela's minister of culture, and other representatives of government and cultural institutions here. A number of those on the platform were from Cuba, the fairs country of honor this year. They included Abel Prieto, Cuba's minister of culture, and Iroel Sánchez, president of the Cuban Book Institute. Twenty-two Cuban publishers and cultural institutions are represented at the fair.
As part of the Venezuelan government's efforts to make world literature more widely accessible, Chávez announced that the Ministry of Culture will begin distributing 1.5 million free copies of a three-volume edition of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. Thousands began lining up as soon as the fair opened to get their copies of this classic.
Two historic figures are being honored at the book fairErnesto Che Guevara, the Argentine-born leader of the Cuban Revolution, and Francisco de Miranda, a leader of the early 19th century independence struggle in Venezuela against Spanish colonial rulealong with Venezuelan poet Ramón Palomares.
Abel Prieto described 10 of the first 12 titles published under the ALBA Cultural Fund, a new agreement on cultural collaboration between the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia. Some 10,000 copies of each of the 12 titles will be distributed in all three countries.
"There is a need to foster anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist sentiments with a collection of books," Prieto said. Among the works to be distributed are titles by Cuban writers José Martí, Roberto Fernández Retamar, and Francisco Pividal, author of a book on Simón Bolívar, as well as Che Guevara's Bolivian Diary.
The Cuban Book Institute has donated 600 works of Cuban literature to Venezuela's National Library as part of cultural agreements signed at the opening of the book fair. "This is a contribution to the Venezuelan people so they have greater access to works by Cuban authors," said Iroel Sánchez.
The fair, which until 2003 was much smaller and had less of an international character, includes video screenings, talks by authors, book presentations, forums, poetry readings, and dance and other performances. Most events are held in tents or at the amphitheater in the park.
For the third straight year, U.S.-based Pathfinder Press has a booth. Pathfinder is also organizing three book presentations this year. These include events to discuss Che Guevara Talks to Young People and Our History Is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution.
A meeting will also be held to present the two latest issues of the Marxist magazine Nueva Internacional, which Pathfinder distributes. Issue nos. 6 and 7 feature the articles Capitalisms Long Hot Winter Has Begun and Our Politics Start with the World, both by Jack Barnes, national secretary of the Socialist Workers Party.
Meeting at UCLA discusses book on Cuban Revolution
Book by Chinese-Cuban generals: 'A practical example of how to fight, win, and defend gains'
Pathfinder president speaks in Cuba on 'Our History Is Still Being Written'
'An important introduction to Cuba's socialist revolution'
Gen. Moisés Sío Wong speaks at book presentation in Santiago de Cuba
What the Cuban Revolution shows
UN vote condemns U.S. embargo against Cuba
New Greek-language book on 'Cuba and Africa,' Pathfinder titles
'Che teaches us need to make a revolution'
Youth panel discusses 'Che Guevara Talks to Young People at Caracas book fair'
Venezuelan gov't opens youth centers for education, recreation in working-class areas
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