GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Mexican intellectual Roger Bartra was honored over the weekend at the Guadalajara International Book Fair, the biggest event in the Hispanic publishing world, for his work in the field of cultural journalism.
Bartra, who was born in Mexico City in 1942, described himself as an “archaeologist, sociologist, anthropologist, communist, student, bookbinder, historian and apprentice psychiatrist” as he received the Fernando Benitez National Cultural Journalism Prize.
It was his way of highlighting the “multiple identities” he carries through life and recalled that one of his occupations, namely that of cultural journalist, acts as coordinator for all the rest.
The son of Spanish exiles and doctor of sociology at the Sorbonne, he has published essays like “La Democracia Ausente” (Democracy Gone Missing) and “Oficio Mexicano” (Mexican Profession).
Among other journalistic adventures, Bartra for several years directed a cultural supplement for the Mexican leftist daily La Jornada.
The intellectual, author of diverse studies that have won him widespread prestige, said that cultural journalism should not only make society grow culturally but ought to serve as a channel of communications between civil society and politics.
According to Bartra, it should “civilize politicians, create a critical mass that obliges the powerful to be more open to democratic values.”
For his part, his compatriot and fellow-writer Juan Villoro said that in Bartra’s work “the spirit of freedom is pervasive” and stressed his varied points of view as well as his independence from groups that wield power and from ideological pressures.
Historian Christopher Dominguez also had words of praise for the essayist and journalist.
“Bartra’s work is a bunch of keys that allows us to open the cage of melancholy in which we Mexicans so often feel ourselves locked up,” he said.
Also presented during the ceremony were other Fernando Benitez national prizes for journalism.
Honored for photojournalism was photographer Guillermo Arias Camarena, who works in Tijuana for the U.S. news agency Associated Press, for his picture series “La Muerte de Todos los Dias...” (The Death That Comes Every Day).
The winner in the category of writing for the press was Victor Nuñez Jaime for his report “El Derecho a Llamarse Doni Zänä” (The Right to Call Herself Doni Zänä), published in the weekly magazine Milenio Semanal, which unveils the truth about institutional violence and discrimination.
The Guadalajara International Book Fair ended Sunday after nine days of activities that drew more than 600,000 people.
Taking part in what is considered the biggest event in the Hispanic publishing world were 1,925 publishing houses and 500 writers, including Turkish Nobel laureate for literature Orhan Pamuk and Peru’s Mario Vargas Llosa. EFE