FIL Photo Extravaganza ·  Page 5

What else was going on during the FIL?  Plenty.


More in-your-face marketing at the FIL.  But the flacos
have not cornered the market on lunacy, says el bibliotecario
de la triste figura
; get a load the nutty gordito down below.
SOL invades the
Feria Internacional del Libro XVI    ▬    The 2002 Guadalajara Book Fair        

Nov 30 - Dec 8, 2002

Guadalajara probably has a lot more daily newspapers than your town does.  A half-dozen of them fatten up for the FIL with special sections and frequent front-page, above-the-fold coverage.  The online editions of a couple of them give you yet another good way, in addition to the radio stations mentioned earlier, to follow the FIL from afar.  El Informador and El Mural this year both mixed intelligent book and cultural coverage, on the one hand, with strident anti-Castro editorials, on the other.. They cost fifty cents and seventy cents, respectively, but follow the links above and you can have them for free.  You don't read Spanish?  You're in luck; the largest settlement of Yanks outside the US is near the north (and receding) shore of neighboring Lake Chapala, 60,000 or so folks who have a weekly English-language paper called the Guadalajara Reporter to keep them abreast of local news while it sells their eyes to a variety of advertisers, many of them realtors.

Though the 2002 book fair captivated the media, it wasn't the only thing happening.  Ruis in his XHUG interview alludes to a colossal tire dump fire in nearby Tlaquepaque  that burned early in the week.  An important gathering of 1,300 students from throughout the hemisphere, the Congreso Latinoamericano y Caribeño de Estudiantes (Latin American and Caribbean Students' Congress) was in Guadalajara, coinciding with the FIL.  The US delegation to the CLAE numbered about 60 who joined in intense, earnest discussions of a group dedicated to "combative solidarity" in advocating free education, literacy, and social programs as it battles neoliberal economic policies and US expansionism in the hemisphere.  Otra America es Posible is the slogan: "Another America is Possible."   The presence of the student activists and of Cuba's big FIL delegation made Che T-shirts plentiful.

Maldita Vecindad, heroes of your lanky correspondent, showed up in Guadalajara to play a free concert downtown for the CLAE crew and whoever elseus, for examplewanted to come.  The next night, on live TV and far less entertaining, the reality show La Academia climaxed when after five long months viewers voted in a winner, American Idol-style, during a final program which required contestants to sing one song in Spanish and the last one in English,  Former president Carlos Salinas—whose popularity in Mexico is, palpably, nearly on a par with that of Osama Bin-Laden in the US—surfaced in Washington DC to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the NAFTA accord credited with triggering nationwide economic misery and the armed rebellion in Chiapas.  There were soccer games involving the Chivas, something that folks in Guadalajara take very seriously.  Christmastime vendors flocked to the city, as they do every year, and were summarily transplanted to a site far from the street where they traditionally set up their makeshift standsa measure that a week later led to the deployment of riot police.  But the biggest Mexican news of the week, in our admittedly slanted view, was the bizarre escapade of "Pancho Cachondo," a 300 lb. Mexico City legislator properly named Francisco Solís Peón, who capitalized on his reputation as a strip club aficionado by posing darned near nude for the news magazine Cambio (a Televisa product).  Pancho's privates were concealed by a piece of fabric bearing the logo of his political party, the PAN of President Vicente Fox.  We should say Pancho's former party, because, well, whoever says "any publicity is good publicity" isn't acquainted with the case of Pancho Cachondo.  Like we said, we saw lots of Che T-shirts the week of the FIL in Guadalajara; nobody, but nobody, was wearing any shirts with this portly politico on them.

The FIL itself made news, too.  Early on, the presentation of a magazine called Letras Libres inspired objections that quickly triggered formal reactions from writers all over the world.  Edited by prominent Mexican historian Enrique Krauze, the issue in question is largely devoted to speculation about the future of Cuba after Castro.  The Cuban delegation, undoubtedly tired of hearing for the past 40 years about Fidel's impending demiselet's remember that his immediate family includes some centenariansobjected to the issue, and some, such as national Library Director Eliades Acosta, eloquently spelled out why.  What drew the most attention, though, and condemnation from the likes of Mario Vargas Llosa, were the raucous protests of some young partisans.  Later in the week, the magazine Encuentro de la Cultura Cubana, published in Spain by opponents of the Cuban regime and funded by the anti-Castro National Endowment for Democracy, inflamed still more controversy.

And the FIL, being, let's face it, a fundamentally commercial affair where money talks, this year spawned for the first time a

Appropriately grainy photo of FILoff's presentation
of the journal Sensacional de Antropología by
students of the National College of Anthropology
series of "shadow" events in a splendid old building downtown: FILoff, it was called, and its handful of idealistic organizers pulled off six nights of crowd-pleasing countercultural carousing.  Jorge Herralde, the courageous founder of Spanish publishing house Anagrama, showed up on FILoff's first night for a well-earned tribute.  Though Herralde, whose publication of Beat poets and political dissidents used to get his butt locked up in jail by Generalísimo Francisco Franco, nowadays can afford to spend the several thousand dollars needed to put up a stand at the book fair, the rest of the FILoff participants were hungy publishers and artists who could not buy their way into the Expo center.

It's all too easy to get distracted by things that don't matter much.  Chances are a lot of readers will think the most interesting item on this entire page is the one about Pancho Cachondo.  We respect that.  So if you want to read more about this political maverickand in English, yetwe can recommend a couple of highly informative articles.   

But though guys like Pancho burn bright in our consciousness, there are others who warm the world with a slow, enduring flame that lasts a long, long time.  Eliades Ocoha is one of those.  You saw him and his black sombrero in Buena Vista Social Club; here he is performing in a free FIL concert in front of the Expo center:


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