BOGOTA – The 32nd Bogota International Book Fair (Filbo), which opens its doors to the public on Wednesday and runs until May 6, is celebrating Colombia’s bicentennial and history of creativity and cultural accomplishments.
President Ivan Duque said in an address at an event on Tuesday that “these 200 years of history are to celebrate what our country has done in that inexhaustible heritage that is its creative class, its cultural class, which continues to inspire many generations.”
Colombia itself will be the guest of honor at the Filbo since the bicentennial of independence from Spain is being commemorated.
To highlight the anniversary in the Andean nation, a special pavilion sprawling over 3,000 sq. meters (32,292 sq. feet) will be dedicated to Colombia’s 200-year history as a republic.
“Let this bicentennial fair celebrate the great cultural process that we all carry in our hearts and is called Colombia,” the president said.
Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez, for her part, said the bicentennial celebration should be viewed as a time of inspiration, and she invited the nation to take “the importance of understanding our history” seriously.
“From here, I’d like to tell Colombian children and young people that the Colombia 200 Years pavilion that we will have at the Filbo is a space built with love, conscience, dedication and purposeful discussion,” Ramirez said.
Among the guest writers at the 2019 Filbo are Spain’s Rosa Montero, Santiago Posteguillo, Manuel Vilas, Abraham Gragera, Agustin Fernandez Mallo and Paula Bonet.
Argentine writers Martin Caparros, Leila Guerrero, Diana Bellesi, Samanta Schweblin and Edgardo Cozarinsky – winner of the 2018 Gabriel Garcia Marquez Spanish-American Short Story Award for “En el ultimo trago nos vamos” – will also be in attendance.
Other foreign writers scheduled to appear at the book fair are Mexicans Mario Bellatin, Margo Glantz, Emiliano Monge and Antonio Ortuño; France’s Gilles Lipovestky; Cubans Carlos Manuel Alvarez and Wendy Guerra; Ecuadorians Maria Fernanda Ampuero and Monica Ojeda; Guatemala’s Eduardo Halfon; and Daur Nachkebia, the former education minister of the separatist Georgian republic of Abkhazia, among others.
During the official opening ceremony on Tuesday, a tribute was also paid to Colombian writer Roberto Burgos Cantor, who died last October in Bogota.
Burgos Cantor published six short story collections and five novels, of which “La ceiba de la memoria” stands out for having been recognized with a Casa de las Americas award in 2009.
The late author, who was born in Cartagena in 1948, also won the National Novel Prize last July, an honor bestowed on him by the Colombian Culture Ministry for “Ver lo que veo,” a work set in a neighborhood on the Caribbean coast in the 20th century.
Among the political figueres who participated in the official opening ceremony were Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa; Colombian Book Publishers Association CEO Enrique Gonzalez Villa; and Eafit University president Juan Luis Mejia, who provided a historical review of Colombia’s independence.
In addition to the literary presentations, the fair will also feature workshops on gender equality, the environment and Latin American politics, among other topics.
Visitors can also enjoy Filbo Cine, which will screen 20 Colombian films, and “Que viva la Musica,” offering activities to honor Colombian writer Andres Caicedo, who died in 1977 at the age of 25.