Argentinians Ask to #Freethebooks

New restrictions on the importation of books have spurred outraged on social networks in Argentina. With Regulation 28/2012 [es] (created on February 28, 2012), the Argentine Ministry of Economics and Public Finance [es] has, via the Secretariat of Internal Commerce, stipulated new measures that will apply to the importation and national manufacture of commodities that contain printer ink, as well as shellac and lacquer, for the graphic industry.

The measure includes books, which means that although Argentina has its own graphic industry, it also covers the importation of those books that are not edited on the national level. Foreign publications will have to certify that the ink used in graphic products does not contain more than 0.06% lead.

Book fair in the streets - Photo: Laura Schneider

Book fair in the streets – Photo: Laura Schneider

Hernan Casciari [es], Argentinian writer and journalist based in Barcelona, received a call from a Spanish radio station along with many questions, as he comments on his blog [es]:

Querían saber por qué, desde hoy, los argentinos no podemos recibir publicaciones literarias extranjeras, ni revistas científicas, ni novelas, ni ensayos, ni cualquier tipo de libro, en nuestros domicilios particulares, ni en nuestras universidades, ni en nuestros laboratorios.

They wanted to know why, starting today, we Argentinians could not receive foreign literary publications, nor scientific magazines, novels, essays, nor any type of book at our home addresses, our universities, or our laboratories.

Diego Tirelli shows his astonishment in the blog Según el cristal con que se mire [es]:

Sólo faltaba el aislamiento cultural (no me digas que van a prohibir los Simpsons!!! Se pudre). Llegó (nooooooooooo). La última decisión de Moreno, que frenó la importación de libros y su compra por Internet, es una de las más autoritarias que tomó la democracia argentina (no frenó la compra en internet, frenó la impostación. El libro lo podes leer en un ebook reader fabricado en Tierra del Fuego). Los pretextos que respaldan esa decisión son embusteros

The only thing missing is cultural isolation (don't tell me they're going to ban The Simpsons!!! It rots).  It arrived (nooooooooooo). Moreno's last decision, which curbed the importation of books and their online purchase, is one of the most authoritarian that the Argentine democracy has taken (it didn't curb online purchase, it curbed the taxing. You can read the book on an eReader made in Tierra del Fuego.) The pretexts that support this decision are false.

Diego continues [es]:

Los libros no son de consumo masivo, es cierto, pero son un símbolo de la libertad.(los libros son un simbolo de libertad. Frase que va a mi Top Ten de bolufrases históricas) ¿Sabe la Presidenta que las restricciones a los libros (y, por lo tanto, a la cultura y al conocimiento) son una vieja expresión del oscurantismo político? ¿Aspira a que ese sea el legado de su presidencia? Los libros aparecen, así, como otro enemigo en la larga saga presidencial de batallas culturales y de guerras políticas

Books are not mass consumed, that's true, but they are a symbol of freedom. (books are a symbol of freedom. A quote I saw on my Top Ten historic Boluquotes) Does the President know that the restrictions on books (and consequently on culture and knowledge) are an antiquated expression of political obscurantism? Does she aspire to make this her presidency's legacy? Books appear, as such, as another enemy in the long presidential saga of cultural battles and political wars.

Early on March 26, the hashtag #liberenloslibros [es] (#freethebooks) started trending in Argenina.

User @arrietakevin [es] writes:

No se dan cuenta que nuestra presidenta le convienen mas a los analfabetos que educación, #LiberenLosLibros

They don't realize that our president is more interested in illiteracy than education, #FreeTheBooks

Lari Gahan (@larigahan) [es] reacts in a similar way:

ahora retienen libros? no logro entender, de que les sirve!! ah si cierto, una población mas ignorante.. dejame de joder #liberenloslibros

now they're withholding books?  I will never understand what they're trying to achieve!! Oh, right.  A more ignorant population.. give me a break #freethebooks

Nik Gaturro (@nikgaturro) [es] also comments on the government's role:

En el tema editorial, este gobierno está dejando una pésima impresión. #LiberenLosLibros

With respect to the editorial topic, this government is leaving a dreadful impression. #FreeTheBooks

Meanwhile Paula Campo (@pabula1414) [es] tweets:

Este pais es gracioso, nos preocupamos del + 0,06% de plomo en tintas de libros y no de la mineria a cielo abierto. #LiberenLosLibros

This country is funny, we worry about +0.06% lead in the ink in books and not about open-pit mining. #FreeTheBooks

In a recent radio interview, Alberto Cassano, researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) [es] — an organization dedicated to promoting science and technology in Argentina — commented [es]:

A mí no me preocupa mi problema personal, me preocupa la faltante de libros en inglés que son utilizados para el estudio. Es decir, que junto a la faltante de medicamentos, también faltan libros extranjeros”. ……”yo creo que estas políticas atrasan. Les recuerdo que los libros se traducen al español luego de 6 u 8 años. Los científicos suelen comprar los libros en el idioma de origen o se atrasan 8 años”.

I do not worry about my personal problems, I worry about the lack of books in English that are used for studies. That is to say that, together with the lack of medication, there is also a lack of foreign books.” …… “I believe that these policies put us back. I remind you that books are translated into Spanish six to eight years after they are published. Scientists tend to buy books in their original language or they are delayed by eight years.”

On April 19, like every year, the International Book Fair [es] will be held in Argentina. This year it will count on the presence of international invitees like Eduardo Galeano, David Grossman, Stephen Holmes, and other distinguished authors [es]. Some Twitter users, like Dante Augusto Palma (@palmadante) [es], have already approached a new controversy, writing:

Los que creen que lo de #liberenloslibros es una opereta para politizar Feria del Libro como se hizo el año pasado son muy bien pensados

Those who think that #freethebooks is an operetta to politicize the Book Fair like last year are thinking along the correct lines

Finally, remembering a quote from Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, Claudia Elizabeth Sosa(@clausclaude) [es] tweets:

“Nada enriquece tanto los sentidos, la sensibilidad, los deseos humanos cómo la lectura.” Mario Vargas Llosa. #LiberenLosLibros

“Nothing enriches the senses, sensibility, and human desires like reading.” Mario Vargas Llosa. #FreeTheBooks

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