The government against the Book Law. Another attack on culture

The government against the Book Law. Another attack on culture
The government against the Book Law. Another attack on culture

Milei’s government, in line with its persistent fight against independent culture, is attacking the Book Law, attempting to repeal it, first, with the so-called “Omnibus Law” and now with the new “Bases Law.” Who benefits from this repeal? What challenges do we artists face?

Law No. 25,542 known as Law for the Defense of Bookstore Activities, sanctioned after the 2001 crisis, it seeks to protect small and medium-sized bookstores from the commercial logic of large publishing houses and multinational book companies.

Since this law was applied after years of complaints from small publishers, popular libraries, booksellers and writers, the demand for bibliodiversity and new publishing houses and independent bookstores appeared, as well as new authors. Among many advances, this law attempts to stabilize the uniform retail price (PVP), ensuring that copies have the same price in any bookstore.

The attack by Milei’s government means that authors and writers who do not have the possibility of being published by large publishing groups are forced to compete with the big ones best sellers, which will gradually cover up the already limited number of independent books in bookstores. In this way, quality books and new artists will lose the possibility of having their work published or disseminated.

Since there is no unified price, large retail chains, even those that do not sell books, such as supermarket chains or Mercado Libre itself, can sell books at unlimited discounts, taking advantage of small and medium-sized bookstores that do not have the same financial flexibility as these large companies.

Something that would benefit readers in the short and medium term, but in the long run would harm bookstores, which give space to independent or beginning authors who cannot sustain themselves due to this unfair competition. The deepening of the sale of books in monopoly format.

Contrary to the world, this repeal is a step backwards

Countries such as Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Norway, Japan, Mexico and South Korea agree on promoting books as a essential cultural asset through similar laws. On the contrary, in countries like England there are deregulations like those that Milei is trying to implement, which there have resulted in the disappearance of many small publishers and libraries.

To get an idea of ​​the number of workers who will be directly or indirectly affected in our country, not only one of those with the most book workers in Latin America (writers, editors, curators) but also with more than 1,600 bookstores and 125 public libraries throughout our territory. In the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires alone, there is one small or medium-sized bookstore for every 50,000 residents.

This is not the only threat that we writers suffer today; there is also the price of paper, which rises above inflation. In addition to the impoverishment of the population in general, perpetuating the concept of writing as a “hobby”, due to the lack of job opportunities. To all this we add, as contained in the Ley Bases, the Elimination of CONABIP funds (National Commission of Popular Libraries).

Although today we have to defend the Book Law, we understand that this is not enough; it is necessary to accompany it with a scholarship plan for culture students, to promote more spaces to deepen the development of new writers and those who study careers related to literature, writing arts or curatorship.

An attack of economic and ideological interests

The attack by this government is transversal and brutal a the entire scope of cultureNot only is there a desire to repeal the Book Law, but there are also persistent attacks on the INTI, INCAA, artistic education and the former Ministry of Culture.

Without going any further, today the INCAA has almost 50% of its staff fired, laid off or without tasks, in addition to having “readjusted” to a new structure that benefits only large productions and leaving aside the promotion of new producers seeking to hegemonize culture. Our culture is not only commerce, it is also identity, memory and an unconventional communication tool that can be a window to another type of society.

During the dictatorship, thousands of books were burned, singers were censored, actors and actresses were persecuted, and artists were exiled. It is clear that the powerful are uncomfortable with the fact that even the poorest person with a pencil and a piece of paper can create art, and they have no problem destroying the art industry in order to generate profits only from what “sells.”

We artists continue to resist and even in secret we continue to write, act, film and produce. Today, the only way out of the attempt to turn art into a leisure activity for the privileged is to put our artistic tools and knowledge at the service of the struggle.

We invite you to do it together with La Colectiva, the cultural network that we are creating with students, artists and cultural workers throughout the country, understanding that no one is saved alone and that art is our weapon, “a weapon loaded with future”.

Braulio Vega Santana

Photos by: Julio Cesar Rado[YennyBookstorePlazaOesteMoron)[LibreríaYennyplazaOesteMoron)

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