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The Guadalajara International Book Fair and The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts

Princess of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities 2020

Speech by Mr. Raúl Padilla López, President of Guadalajara International Book Fair.

Your Majesties,
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Laureates,

We are truly honoured and happy to receive this Award from the Princess of Asturias Foundation, an institution that is celebrating forty years recognizing exceptional efforts in scientific, technical, cultural, social or simply human fields. Congratulations on this anniversary and long life to your noble mission! We are so happy to be sharing this Award with the Hay Festival, a dear ally in promoting books and literature.

Many thanks to the Jury chaired by Víctor García de la Concha for its decision and to the entire Royal Family for the honour it grants us. We are truly moved to receive this Award from the hands of Her Royal Highness The Princess of Asturias.

We are in the midst of a pandemic that has brought pain and mourning to the entire world. We wish to express our sorrow for the victims and, today especially, for those in Spain and Mexico. We would like to dedicate this Award to their memory, if we may.

The Award granted to us was created to honour universal values. Books, literature, reading constitute such values in so many ways. Let us remember that they were the source of a movement of ideas that, via its commitment to reason, freedom and tolerance,created the institutions that still govern us, the same institutions that will enable us to overcome the crisis we are living through today.

Books –and the printed word in general– feed on freedom, while at the same time expanding it. Political modernity appeared with freedom of the press, with the right to write and publish without restrictions. Let us defend this fundamental value, all the more so against the populist governments that today threaten our liberal governance and place democracy at risk.

Our Fair is a public cultural enterprise, created and supported by the University of Guadalajara. This formula seems a mistake to those who would like the fate of books to be left entirely in the hands of the market, as well as to governments who believe that culture is expendable and that books, science and education must be sacrificed for other ideals. In contrast, our Fair has always wanted to demonstrate that culture is an investment, never an expense; and that development is illusory if human and cultural capital is neglected.

The Guadalajara Book Fair is a project supported by numerous individuals and institutions. Our thanks to all of them and especially to those who have served as its directors during all these years. I also thank Dr Ricardo Villanueva, Rector of the University of Guadalajara, for all his support for this project.

Long live books, because wherever any book brings two people together, there also exists the possibility of a better world!

Thank you very much.

Translated by Paul Barnes.

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