This Thursday the XVI International Book Fair of Venezuela (FILVEN 2020) was inaugurated to the rhythm of Mexican mariachis, overcoming both the atrocious blockade by US imperialism and the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was led by the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, who was accompanied at La Casona Cultural Aquiles Nazoa by the Minister for Culture, Ernesto Villegas; Honored Writer Earle Herrera; Atamaica Nazoa, daughter of the second Honored Writer Aquiles Nazoa; and by Raúl Cazal, president of the National Book Center (CENAL), among other personalities.
“Reading unblocks” is the motto of this sixteenth edition of the main literary festival in Venezuela, that features Mexico as an Honored Country, and includes a record number of activities, most of which can be enjoyed virtually through FILVEN 2020’s Youtube channel, and its social media networks.
The head of state thanked the writers, as well as the readers, who faced the impediments related to the blockade and the pandemic, and supported the realization of FILVEN 2020.
Villegas, for his part, thanked those who made this sixteenth FILVEN possible, and for having completed it after overcoming the great difficulties that Venezuela faces. He stressed that the slogan “reading unblocks” not only refers to overcoming the US blockade, but also “reading unblocks the people from ignorance.”
Those present in the ceremony were accompanied in virtual form by the writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II, general director of the Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE), a Mexican publishing house that, despite the blockade, brought more than eight thousand titles at affordable prices for the wallets of Venezuelan people.
The Mexican writer expressed his satisfaction at the realization of FILVEN 2020 despite adversities and stated that unblocking, more than an obligation, is a pleasure, and stressed that the book should not be feared, but considered as a great instrument of human interconnection.
He highlighted the agreement signed last year between the Fundación Librerías del Sur (FLS) and the FCE, which will allow thousands of titles to be read in both Mexico and Venezuela.
Regarding this, during the opening ceremony of FILVEN, the executive director of the FLS, Mary Pem Jean—who was accompanied by Omar Mora, executive director of Monte Ávila Editores, and Édgar Páez, executive director of the Ayacucho Library—inaugurated the joint space of the FLS and the FCE, located on Avenida Francisco Solano López, in Sabana Grande, Caracas, which will open its doors to readers starting on November 16.
Pem Jean highlighted that from that date on, more than eighty thousand books will be made available in that space by the FCE and the Venezuelan publishers Monte Ávila Editores, El Perro y la Rana and the Ayacucho Library will also be accessible, even virtually.
The writer Arantxa Tirado accompanied the group from Spain. She has dedicated herself in her country to telling the truth about the international media campaign that exists against Venezuela.
From Chile, the writer Pedro Santander, who brings to the fair the book The Communication Battle, celebrated the inauguration of the FILVEN; and from Paris, the Colombian writer Hernando Calvo Ospina also showed his support for the literary festival.
Regarding the support from international writers, and following the ratification by the European Union of the sanctions against Venezuela, President Maduro invited all those who want to come to the country on December 6 to the fiesta of democracy, the election of the new National Assembly.
Earle Herrera honored
The journalist, professor, former parliamentarian and constituent Earle Herrera, as Honored Writer, congratulated Mexico for being the Honored Country, recalling his childhood when he saw the films of the golden age of Mexican cinema. He congratulated Mexico, which dared to defy the blockade and bring its books to FILVEN 2020, and highlighted that historically Venezuela, from the Francisco de Miranda and Simón Bolívar printing presses, has challenged different imperialist blockades.
After his words, his book Rocinante Ate Many Plums in the Park was launched, a text of stories that Herrera wrote for his children and that now remains as a legacy for his grandchildren and all Venezuelan children. FILVEN 2020 runs virtually until November 15, but from November 16 until it ends on November 22 it can be visited physically, with adherence to biosecurity measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, at La Casona Cultura Aquiles Nazoa in Caracas.
Finalists for the Rómulo Gallegos Award
Finally, Raúl Cazal gave the news of the ten finalists for the Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize, which are:
• The Devil’s Country (Edhasa, 2015), by Perla Suez (Argentina).
• The Adventures of China Iron (Random House, 2017), by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara (Argentina).
• Moronga (Random House, 2018), by Horacio Castellanos Moya (El Salvador).
• The Violent Breathing of the World (Emecé, 2018), Angela Pradelli (Argentina).
• Daughters of Hagar (Santander, 2016), Pilar Salamanca. (Spain).
• Spider Silk (Paralelo 21, 2019), by Antolina Ortiz (Mexico).
• Pasolini or the Night of the Fireflies (Nocturna, 2015), by José García López (Spain).
• Son of War (Seix Barral, 2019), by Ricardo Raphael (Mexico).
• The Route of Hospitals (alfaguara, 2019), by Gloria Peirano (Argentina).
• The Submerged Forest (Emecé, 2019), by Diego Vargas Gaete (Chile).