Guatemala Book Fair declared annual event

This August article from Criticas announces the organizers’ intentions of making the Guatemala book fair an annual event. Unger writes:

Guatemala suffers from the reputation of being “El país de no lectores” (“the country without readers”), so FILGUA set as its objective “Vamos por un país de lectores” (“Let’s become a country of readers”). Still reeling from 36 years of civil war, with the by-product of ensuing gang warfare, violent crime, and femicide, Guatemala is not an easy place to build readership. FILGUA, however, has provoked understanding of the need to address issues of literacy, the promotion of reading, and the paucity of public libraries in the country, while at the same time raising the importance of eliminating value-added taxes on books.

At an event held in the National Palace of Culture, honoring the more than 80 attending writers, host Jerónimo Lancerio, the Minister of Culture and Sports and a Sakapultec Maya, was presented with a petition signed by 154, mostly rural, library directors urging increased government spending and the creation of new libraries. Immediately after the fair, a bill addressing the promotion of reading was introduced in the Guatemalan Congress. Indeed, there was a sense during FILGUA that after years of neglect, the Guatemalan government would begin addressing literacy issues, this in a country ranking second to last in spending for education in Latin America.

Good signs for the future of reading and libraries in Guatemala.

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