Cuba and Mexico United at the Havana International Book Fair

By Alejandra Garcia on April 24, 2022 from Havana

 During these days, Cuba is reliving one of the island’s most important cultural moments: the yearly Havana International Book Fair. Two years and a pandemic later, the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress reopened its doors to the public from all over the country and from other latitudes seeking to celebrate Cuba’s ” Great Book Festivity”, which this year is dedicated to the literature of a fellow country, Mexico.

The health emergency caused by the COVID-19 is subsiding, and this helped the country’s cultural authorities to allow the resumption of this international literary festival, which this year reaches its 30th edition. This weekend, hundreds of Cubans traveled to eastern Havana to explore the new offers brought by the fair and to contemplate Havana from a place where you can see it almost in its entirety in a wide panoramic angle.

Cuba longed to return to the fair, that unique place that fosters all kinds of cultural encounters. This year, it has a special connotation. It is the first mass event to be held after an unprecedented health crisis. It will also serve as the prelude to the celebration of May Day, when tens of thousands of Cubans and solidarity activists from around will take to the streets, that had become a recognized tradition celebrated every May 1, in honor of all workers of the world, before the pandemic hit.

Although COVID-19 has given us a break, everything has been organized to minimize crowds during the presentations and book sales and in the souvenir shops distributed throughout the complex.

Despite the difficult times the world is going through, especially Cuba, due to the post-pandemic recovery, nearly 300 guests from 35 countries are already on the island. In addition, with much effort, the event organizers were able to collect more than 90 new masterpieces, more than 4,000 titles, and four million copies to be exhibited throughout the island.

“Dear reader country, we are united by yearnings, ideals, hope, dignity, and cultural diversity. There is no culture or race or nation that is above the other,” Mexican Secretary of Culture Alejandra Frausto said during the opening of the event, which took place last Thursday and was attended by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

“Almost all cultures are welcome at this fair. The relationship between our peoples has always been frank and open. Resistance, love, and respect unite us,” added the Mexican official, who thanked Cuba for the invitation on behalf of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who will arrive in Havana in the coming days.

The fair has further strengthened the ties between two fraternal nations. It is also a symbol of integration and unity in the Latin American region.

According to the president of the Cuban Book Institute, Juan Rodríguez Cabrera, the island invited Mexico as a guest of honor as a way to say thank you for always standing alongside the island, even in the most difficult times.

Mexico was the first country to which the Havana International Book Fair was dedicated back in 1998. This will be the second time that Cuban generations will have the opportunity to get closer to its culture and enjoy one of the richest literatures of Latin America and the world.

The book fair will recall the works of renowned Mexican authors such as Juan Rulfo, Juan José Arreola, Elena Garro, Octavio Paz, Rosario Castellanos, Carlos Fuentes, Amado Nervo, Jaime Sabines, Federico Gamboa, José Emilio Pacheco, Alfonso Reyes, and Fernando del Paso.

During the cultural event that will conclude on April 30, Cuba will also honor some of its most important writers and poets, such as Carilda Oliver Labra, Jesús Orta Ruiz, Nicolás Guillén, José Martí, and Cirilo Villaverde.

“Today, we celebrate art. We are united by the mutual will to preserve the cultural work of our revolution and the need for our history to beat in every open book,” Rodríguez concluded.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – English