Peru and Mexico are twinned countries for various reasons. Both territories were home to civilizations that have inherited identity traits and a unique cultural, artistic, linguistic and gastronomic wealth. The two nations have been commercially intertwined since pre-Columbian times and have maintained diplomatic relations since the time of the viceroyalties. This year, both coincide in the commemorations for the bicentennial of their independence.

All this supports the presence of the country of Andean and Amazonian wealth as Guest of Honor in the 35th edition of the Guadalajara International Book Fair. But there are more coincidences about the public life of both nations. Some have to do with the revision of the official account of their history and the attempt to dismantle the contempt of their native communities, the recognition of their diversity and decentralization.

These junctures come to the fore during the conversation that El Economista holds with the activist, politician and assumed last October as Minister of Culture of Peru, Gisela Ortiz Perea, who led the Andean delegation to the launch of its publishing and publishing activities. cultural in the Jalisco capital.

Inclusion policy

“Being at FIL is an opportunity to show this great cultural diversity, to create a market for the book industry, for our writers, but also for publishers that have survived a rather difficult year and a half. From Peru we bring a great proposal not only with the recognized authors ”, remarks the minister in the pavilion of her country.

“We believe that it is necessary to be quite consistent with the need for inclusion, to generate equal opportunity environments. In countries as centralist as ours, like Peru, where you have the irradiator of everything in Lima, the other regions become invisible, where there are valuable people who are writing, producing and publishing books, but have not had the space to appear”.

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Therefore, with a few days at the helm of the ministry, Ortiz Perea decided to make profound changes in the list of the delegation of his country to the FIL, which, he says, was centralized by criteria of the previous administration.

“We equalize the market with representatives of the different regions of the country, but also with a balance between men and women and from other oral expressions. In Peru we have 48 languages ​​and I think it is important that these are made visible from writing. So we incorporated literature in Quechua, Aymara, and an Amazonian language. That did not happen before in a space like FIL, where the representation of feathers from our country was always very traditional. But we not only include expressions from books, but also from ancestral crafts, music, painting and theater. Peru’s gaze at this fair is towards the great diversity that we are still getting to know and with which we continue to dream ”.

What kind of republic are we?

The commemoration of the bicentennial in both countries, he points out, is a historic opportunity not only to celebrate ourselves as republics but to question what kind of republic we are, “if it really is one that represents all of us or is it only an elite, if we really are societies that we recognize our own differences, we value and respect them or we just want to impose ourselves on them ”.

The 55 indigenous peoples of Peru, four Andean and 51 Amazonian, he warns, carry five centuries of resistance from oblivion, “they are living cultures that feel that there is a State that has not represented them. For all this, it is time to look inwardly critically. I think it would be wrong to think that everything is fine, that there is nothing to change. There are voices that demand an egalitarian society, justice, intercultural policies that were not given to them.

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“We come from 30 years of neoliberalism and governments of right-wing parties. The differences between right and left would not matter if they had really made room for everyone. But it has not been like that, they have been governments of elites, with business views that went above the human and communal rights of indigenous peoples. Now we are reviewing and changing those things that had been normalized, but it is difficult for us ”.

Much of that cost, he says, is that a sector of the right that lost the elections last July is “in a denialist and coup stage, posing a presidential vacancy, as if there were no closed democratic process.”

A book fair, he acknowledges, is a business space, an inherent quality, but suggests that it not only has to be a window for the best authors and the most visible books. “It has to be a space that shows us how Peruvians are in a broad way. And that is why I believe that this decision to review the reasons why such and such representatives are chosen is valid. We must be as democratic as possible. A very big mistake would be the imposition ”, he concludes.

Numbers of the Guest Country of Honor:

  • 64 people from all over the country make up the Peruvian delegation at FIL
  • 68% of the representatives come from regions other than Lima
  • 1,300 titles from 52 publishers
  • 48 languages ​​are spoken throughout the country
  • 19,500 copies for sale

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