Havana International Book Fair opens April 20

By Janet Post
April 25, 2022

Tens of thousands of Cuban workers and youth will attend the 30th Havana International Book Fair April 20-30, looking for literature and discussion on culture and politics, science, literature of the world, children’s books and more. Since Cuba’s workers and farmers made a socialist revolution, the country’s literacy rate has been one of the highest in the world. After the Havana fair ends, some exhibitors will then take their books throughout the country, concluding in Santiago de Cuba in May.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the book fair hasn’t taken place for two years. It is being held under the banner: “To read is to grow.” In addition to its regular venue at the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress, this year there will be books available in the Almacenes San Jose Old Warehouse Cultural Center, the Technological Palace of Havana and the Rancho Boyeros Agricultural and Livestock Fair.

So far, participants and publishers from 32 countries have registered. This year Mexico is the Guest of Honor. In January, the Huasteco Mexican Navy ship sailed to Havana bringing thousands of books.

The end of the fair overlaps with the beginning of the Cuban celebration of May Day, International Workers Day, organized by the Central Organization of Cuban Workers. Three days of activity will include events in workplaces and working-class neighborhoods, an international solidarity conference, and a march of hundreds of thousands through the streets of Havana on May 1.

New York-based Pathfinder Press is organizing panel discussions presenting two books during the fair: The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation by Abram Leon on April 27; and Labor, Nature, and the Evolution of Humanity: The Long View of History with articles by Frederick Engels, Karl Marx, George Novack and Mary-Alice Waters on April 24. Waters is president of Pathfinder and a leader of the Socialist Workers Party.

The panel presenting The Jewish Question will include José Altshuler, president of the Cuban Society of History of Science and Technology; Adriana Hernández, professor at San Gerónimo College; Maritza Corrales, historian and author of The Chosen Island: Jews in Cuba; and Martín Koppel, an editor with Pathfinder Press.

Labor, Nature, and the Evolution of Humanity presents “the scientific foundations of Marxism and everything we do,” Waters said at a New York meeting Feb. 27. The panel will include Fernando González, president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples, and one of the Cuban Five, who was framed up and imprisoned in the U.S. for more than 14 years; Zuleica Romay, director of the Afro-American Studies Program at Casa de las Americas; Pedro Pablo Rodríguez, of the José Martí Studies Center and editor of the Critical Edition of the Complete Works of José Martí; and Waters.