Calls grow to boycott Santo Domingo International Book Fair over plan to honor Israel – Mondoweiss


A call to boycott this year’s Santo Domingo International Book Fair (FILSD 2023), scheduled for August 24th to September 3rd, is gaining momentum as the right-wing government under President Luis Abinader is set to honor the State of Israel. This tribute clearly serves to culture-wash the apartheid regime in Israel. More than two hundred writers, academics, intellectuals, and activists have signed the joint statement, launched by leftist, anti-racist, and anti-Zionist activists and writers.

Diplomatic ties between the Dominican state and Israel go back to the establishment of Israel in 1948. In the 1950s, for example, the nascent Zionist state sold weapons to the brutal Rafael Leonidas Trujillo dictatorship. Then again in the 1970s, the State of Israel sold weapons to  Joaquín Balaguer‘s repressive regime.

As of this writing, both the Puerto Rican poet and novelist Mayra Santos-Febres and the US-born Dominican author Angie Cruz have signed the statement in support of the boycott and canceled their participation in the FILSD 2023. Other key signatories are author, scholar, and feminist political activist Angela Davis, public intellectual and philosopher Cornel West, Israeli historian Ilan Pappé, US-born Palestinian scholars and authors Rashid Khalidi and Steven Salaita, as well as Dominican authors Julia Alvarez, Elizabeth Acevedo, Nelly Rosario and Junot Díaz among others.

Following in the footsteps of Trujillo, Balaguer, and the subsequent regimes led by the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (1996-2000; 2004-2020), President Luis Abinader has created a climate of fear and racial hatred by embracing right-wing nationalist rhetoric, building a wall on the Dominican-Haitian border against the so-called “Haitian menace” and enacting anti-Haitian racist laws to further segregate  Dominicans of Haitian origin and Haitian immigrants who, since the early 20th century, have represented an important source of cheap labor for foreign and local capitalists exploiters. Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent represent around 8% of the Dominican Republic’s population.

Santo Domingo International Book Fair announcement featuring the state of Israel as an honoree.
Santo Domingo International Book Fair announcement featuring the state of Israel as an honoree.

In May 2022, at the end of a book fair marked by censorship and neo-fascist threats against LGBTQ and black Dominican artists and authors, the Ministry of Culture announced with great fanfare that Israel would be the guest of honor at the 2023 book fair. The announcement sparked outrage and widespread condemnation among leftist activists and authors already fed up with state censorship during the book fair and beyond. Dominican activists see the tribute to Israel’s apartheid regime as sending an insulting political message in the context of its internal policies of racial profiling and persecution and outright disregard for Palestinian rights. Calls to boycott the FILSD were accompanied by statements of support for the Palestinian people. In November 2022, feminist, anti-racist/black conscious, and socialist organizations sent an Open Letter to the Minister of Culture to express their outrage:

“We are concerned that a cultural event is being used by the Dominican government to pay homage to an apartheid state, as recognized for decades by Palestinian human rights organizations, and also denounced by international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and even by the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.”

Disturbed by rising death threats against activists and writers during the previous Book Fair, several cultural organizations met in January with representatives of the Ministry of Culture to demand that the Book Fair organizers address the issue of safety and free speech. However, their demands fell on deaf ears, prompting cultural workers and writers to withdraw their participation in the annual literary festival.

In January 2023, echoing Dominican activists, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) released a statement calling “on the Dominican Republic Ministry of Culture to cancel its planned tribute to apartheid Israel at the Santo Domingo International Book Fair.”

Certainly, by now, the Santo Domingo Book Fair has lost whatever luster it claimed to have in the past. Since the mid-1980s, the event, took place in April to celebrate the World Book Day. April also holds historical significance for Dominicans due to the commemoration of the 1965 April Revolution and a subsequent U.S. military invasion. As such, the Book Fair became a rare cultural event each year in a country with no centralized public library system and fewer bookstores. It served a public good, celebrating literary works and fostering reading among the youth. Over the past decade, however, writers, artists, and cultural workers have criticized the event as no longer centered on books, literature, and creative writing but as turning into a camouflaged propaganda vehicle for the state. The arrogant and anti-democratic decision by the Dominican elite to honor a colonialist state coincides with the Dominican state’s own increasing apartheid practices. In 2013, it stripped Dominicans of Haitian origin of their birthright to citizenship, rendering them stateless, and, over the past few years, it reinforced its persecution of Haitian migrants. These are not isolated incidents, but a byproduct of intrinsic government policies carried out systematically by the Dominican state.

In the end, these developments underline the crucial need to adopt a new strategic vision that requires building solidarity between the Palestinian liberation movement and the anti-racist and anti-imperialist Left in the Dominican Republic. The current boycott campaign is an important step in that direction.

Statement with signatures below.

We Reject the Racist Persecution by the Dominican Government

Boycott the 2023 Santo Domingo International Book Fair Dedicated to Israel

The undersigned artists, writers, intellectuals, and activists express solidarity with the Haitian writer Jhak Valcourt, who was arrested on the morning of July 13 by police agents and taken to two police headquarters in the city of Santo Domingo, before being transferred to the Haina [immigrant] detention center, despite having his immigration papers in order. Valcourt has lived in the Dominican Republic for 11 years and during all these years he has forged collaborative ties with Dominican writers. His case illustrates how the policy of mass deportation against Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic is based on racial profiling and discrimination, with a de facto state of exception where no legal or constitutional guarantee is respected.

Faced with the ongoing barbaric persecution, which is reflected in thousands of weekly arrests, warrantless raids, extortion, and confinement in overcrowded places without access to water and food, among other abuses, we raise our voices in repudiation of this racist, xenophobic anti-Haitian witch hunt by the Dominican government under President Luis Abinader. Following in the same footsteps of [right-wing] peledeistas and balagueristas governments in the past, President Abinader has followed point by point the script of the most reactionary sectors of the ruling class, giving free rein to the propagation of racial hatred, while the powerful local and foreign capitalists enrich themselves on the backs of working-class Dominicans and immigrants.

We strongly reject the discriminatory immigration policy of the Dominican State, which in recent months has intensified its violence. We also reject cooperation between neo-fascist groups and the authorities, for example with the “patriotic marches” organized by an official institution, the Instituto Duartiano as well as the recent induction of the genocidal general Ramiro Matos to the Dominican Academy of History. All these facts, together with the legalization of a Trujillist party, mark the accelerated anti-democratic deterioration of the country.

Within this framework of racist violence, persecution, mass deportations, and abuse of power, the Dominican State is organizing the Santo Domingo International Book Fair (FILSD), scheduled for the end of August, and dedicated to the apartheid regime of Israel. The 2022 edition of the same book fair was the scene of acts of censorship for reasons of homophobia and racism. Both the Culture Minister Milagros Germán and the General Director of Books and Reading within the Ministry of Culture Ángela Hernández have refused to guarantee that there will be freedom of expression and protection for the safety of writers and artists at the book fair after cultural organizations made such a request in January of this year. Faced with this very serious situation, we call on writers, artists, editors, publishers, and cultural workers around the world not to attend the next Santo Domingo International Book Fair in 2023, and to continue demanding that the Dominican government respect human rights and democratic freedoms.

  1. Abdul Hadi Sadoun, escritor, Irak-España
  2.  Achy Obejas, escritora, Cuba-Estados Unidos
  3. Adriana García, economista, República Dominicana
  4. Adriana Urrea, filósofa, Colombia
  5. Agrupación Cultural Titerike, Región de La Araucanía, Chile
  6. Alberto Aguilera, obrero, Panamá 
  7. Alberto Martínez-Márquez, escritor boricua
  8. Alejandra Gutiérrez Lara, antropóloga, Colombia
  9. Ali José Álvarez Suárez, coord. relaciones internacionales del Movimiento Cultural Campesino los Arangues, Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de los pueblos, Venezuela. 
  10. Alicia Lira Matus, presidenta de la agrupación de familiares de Ejecutados Políticos, Chile
  11. Alicia Méndez Medina, actriz, República Dominicana
  12. Amarilys Estrella, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos
  13. Amaury Pérez, profesor universitario, República Dominicana
  14. Amaury Rodríguez, escritor y traductor, Estados Unidos
  15. Amín Pérez, profesor universitario, República Dominicana
  16. Ana Harcha Cortés, artista y académica, Chile
  17. Ana María Belique, activista social en DDHH, República Dominicana
  18. Ana María Ramírez, enfermera, Estados Unidos
  19. Anderson Mojica, actor y cineasta, República Dominicana 
  20. Angela Davis, autora, académica, feminista y activista política, Estados Unidos
  21. Angélica Cuero Caicedo, España
  22. Angelina Tallaj, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos
  23. Angie Cruz, escritora, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos
  24. Aniova Prandy, artista visual, República Dominicana
  25. Anthony Arnove, escritor, editor, Estados Unidos
  26. Antonio González-Walker, Puerto Rico
  27. Antonio Isaac Salim, profesor, Puerto Rico
  28. April J. Mayes, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos
  29. Arelis Figueroa, pastora, Estados Unidos
  30. Arlene Dávila, profesora universitaria, NYU, Estados Unidos
  31. Aurora Santiago Ortiz, catedrática auxiliar, Estados Unidos
  32. Ayendy Bonifacio, profesor universitario de inglés, Estados Unidos
  33. Beatriz Llenín Figueroa, escritora, traductora, Editora Educación Emergente, Puerto Rico
  34. Bienvenida Mendoza, animadora sociocultural, anti-racista, República Dominicana
  35. Blanca Carrasquillo Rodríguez, Puerto Rico 
  36. Camila Ladeira Scudeler, Brasil
  37. Carlos Decena, profesor universitario, Estados Unidos
  38. Carlos Francisco Bauer, profesor universitario, Argentina
  39. Carlos Nieves, contador, Puerto Rico 
  40. Carmen Ana Dávila Torres, enfermera, Puerto Rico
  41. Catherine Bourgeois, investigadora, Bruselas, Bélgica
  42. Cecilia Carrasquillo, profesora, Puerto Rico
  43. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos 
  44. Charles Post, sociólogo, Estados Unidos
  45. Charlotte Wiener, abogado, Estados Unidos
  46. Christian Vauzelle, artista, Francia
  47. Christina Sharpe, profesora universitaria, CRC, Canadá   
  48. Claribel Díaz, poeta y psicoanalista,  República Dominicana-Estados Unidos
  49. Claudio Mir, coordinador de proyectos estudiantiles, Rutgers University, Estados Unidos
  50. Claudio Remeseira, periodista, Argentina-Estados Unidos
  51. Claudy Delne, profesor universitario, Estados Unidos
  52. Colectivo Ilé, Puerto Rico
  53. Comisión Ética contra la Tortura Juana Aguilera, Secretaria Ejecutiva, Chile
  54. Comité de Solidaridad con el pueblo de Haití, Puerto Rico
  55. Comuna Caribe, Puerto Rico
  56. Constantino, actor, Chile
  57. Cornel West, philosopher, political activist, Estados Unidos
  58. Cristian  Aquino-Sterling, Ph.D., profesor universitario, Educación Bilingüe & ESL – Tech University, Estados Unidos
  59. Cristina Corrada Emmanuel, antropóloga, Puerto Rico
  60. Dana Cloud, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos
  61. Dan-el Padilla Peralta, profesor de literatura clásica, Princeton, Estados Unidos
  62. Dani Fresard C, publicista, Chile 
  63. Daniel Huttinot, Estados Unidos-Haití
  64. Daniel Infante, arquitecto, Argentina
  65. Daniela González López, coordinadora Internacional del Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de los Pueblos, México
  66. Daniela Robles, estudiante universitaria, Estados Unidos
  67. David Auerbach, profesor universitario, Puerto Rico
  68. Deborah E.McDowell, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos
  69. Diana Braceras, escritora, Argentina
  70. Dorothy Bell Ferrer, autora, Puerto Rico
  71. Dr. Miguel Valerio, profesor, Estados Unidos
  72. Dr. Rachel Douglas, scholar, Escocia/Reino Unido
  73. Dra. Berta H Joubert, psiquiatra jubilada, Puerto Rico
  74. Echedey Medina, escritor y filólogo, España
  75. Edwin Solano, escritor, República Dominicana
  76. Elena donoso, profesora, Chile
  77. Elena Lorac, activista, República Dominicana
  78. Elizabeth Acevedo, escritora, Estados Unidos
  79. Elizabeth S Manley, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos
  80. Emmanuel G. Roa, Estados Unidos
  81. Ensabella Guillermo Pablo, jubilado, Argentina
  82. Ernesto Rivera, artista, República Dominicana 
  83. Esperanza Marzouka, médico y escritora, Chile
  84. Estelí Capote – arquitecta, Puerto Rico 
  85. Esther Hernández Medina, socióloga y activista feminista, Estados Unidos-RD
  86. Eveling Carrazco López, investigadora y feminista descolonial nicaragüense, Nicaragua 
  87. Fabiola Agudelo Henao, Colombia
  88. Federico Cintrón Fiallo, escritor, Puerto Rico
  89. Fiona Brown, Estados Unidos
  90. Flor Angel Agustín Federico, República Dominicana
  91. Francisco González, arquitecto, Colombia
  92. Françoise Foutou, docente, Martinica
  93. Frank García Hernández, historiador y sociólogo, Cuba
  94. Gabriela Rosas, docente, Panamá  
  95. Genesis Lara, historiadora, Estados Unidos
  96. George Lipsitz, docente, Estados Unidos
  97. Gerardo R. Mercedes, artista y gestor cultural, Moca, República Dominicana
  98. Ginetta E.B. Candelario, PhD., profesora de sociología, Estados Unidos
  99. Gladys Cardona Torres, jubilada, Puerto Rico 
  100. Gonzalo Basile, investigador en Epidemiología y Salud Pública, Argentina
  101. Héctor Miolán, escritor, República Dominicana-Estados Unidos
  102. Henry Morel, periodista, República Dominicana
  103. Hilda Guerrero, terapia holística, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  104. Hilda M. Díaz, Puerto Rico  
  105. Hugo Ríos Cordero, profesor, Puerto Rico
  106. Ilan Pappé, historian, Reino Unido
  107. Ingrid Luciano, teatrista, escritora, activista, República Dominicana
  108. Inmaculada Lara Bonilla, profesora universitaria, España-Estados Unidos
  109. Isabel Amarante, académica, Lenapehoking, Turtle Island, Estados Unidos
  110. Isidora Araya Carrera, estudiante, Chile
  111. Ismael Rivera, poeta, Chile
  112. Iván Anacarate, docente, Argentina
  113. Ivanova Veras de Jesús, investigadorx, República Dominicana
  114. Ivette Romero, catedrática, Estados Unidos
  115. Jamila Medina Ríos, Cuba
  116. Jean Lhérisson, agrimensor, Bélgica
  117. Jennifer Marline Rodríguez, profesora, República Dominicana
  118. Jhak Valcourt, escritor haitiano residente en República Dominicana
  119. Jimmy Lam, escritor, Estados Unidos
  120. Johan Mijail, escritora travesti afrodominicana, República Dominicana
  121. Johanna Agustín Federico, poeta y activista antirracista, República Dominicana
  122. Johanna Fernández, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos.
  123. Johanné Gómez-Terrero, cineasta, República Dominicana
  124. John Keene, autor & profesor universitario, Estados Unidos
  125. Jordan Hernández, escritor, República Dominicana
  126. Jorell Meléndez-Badillo, Assistant Professor  of Latin American and Caribbean History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Estados Unidos
  127. Jorge A. Montijo, neuropsicólogo, Puerto Rico
  128. Jorge Rueda, jubilado, Argentina
  129. Jorge Ventocilla, biólogo, Panamá 
  130. José Carrasquillo Rodríguez,  maestro, Puerto Rico
  131. José Cruz, profesor, España
  132. José M Félix, economista, Chile
  133. José Rodríguez presidente del Comité Dominicano de Derechos Humanos en Puerto Rico
  134. Juan Miguel Pérez, República Dominicana
  135. Juana Ramírez G, pensionada, Chile
  136. Julia Alvarez, escritora, Estados Unidos
  137. Julián González Beltrez, bibliotecarie/historiadore, Estados Unidos-R.D.
  138. Junot Díaz, escritor, Estados Unidos
  139.  Kalil Abu-Qalbein Koda, antropólogo, Chile
  140. Katerina González Seligmann, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos
  141. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos
  142. Kevin Holmes, traductor y gestor cultural, Chile
  143. Kiya Vega, artista, Estados Unidos
  144. Koldo Campos Sagaseta, escritor, Estado Español
  145. Lasana M. Sekou, escritor, San Martín
  146. Lauren Derby, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos  
  147. Lauristely Peña Solano, gestora cultural, República Dominicana
  148. Leonardo Nin, escritor, República Dominicana
  149. Lety Elvir, profesora y escritora, Honduras
  150. Lissette Acosta, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos
  151. Lissette Rolón Collazo, profesora, Puerto Rico
  152. Lorgia García Peña, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos
  153.  Lourdes Carrasquillo, terapeuta de masaje, Puerto Rico
  154.  Lourdes M. Santaballa Mora, IBCLC, Puerto Rico
  155. Lourdes Rivera Román, jubilada del gobierno de Puerto Rico
  156. Lucy Carrasquillo, Puerto Rico       
  157. Luis Feliz León, periodista, Estados Unidos
  158. Luz María Sosa Contreras, España. 
  159. Marc Lamont Hill, profesor universitario, Temple University, Estados Unidos
  160. Marcelo Montagna, cerrajero y estudiante de la Lic. de Filosofía, Argentina
  161. María Eva De Bartolo, narradora, titiritera, Argentina
  162. María Inés Urrutia, religiosa, Chile
  163. María Reinat Pumarejo, educadora y organizadora antirracista, Puerto Rico
  164. María Riquelme, poeta, Prof. Artes Visuales, Puerto Rico
  165. Maribel Núñez, periodista, activista afro, República Dominicana
  166. Mariel Acosta, estudiante universitaria, Estados Unidos
  167. Marisel Moreno, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos
  168. Massiel Torres Ulloa, PhD Candidate in Romance Languages and Literature, Harvard University, Estados Unidos
  169. Mauricio Amar, académico, Chile
  170. Mauricio Barria Jara, dramaturgo, Chile
  171. Mayobanex Pérez, escritor, República Dominicana
  172. Mayra Santos-Febres, escritora. Puerto Rico
  173. Medhin Paolos, film maker, activist, Italia
  174. Melissa Zamora Monge, Costa Rica
  175. Mercedes Petit, ensayista socialista, Argentina
  176. Mercy Carrasquillo, retirada, Puerto Rico
  177.  Micely Díaz Espaillat, trabajadora social, República Dominicana
  178. Michèle Hehn, docente pensionada, Canadá
  179. Miguel Sorans, revista Correspondencia Internacional, Argentina
  180. Milagros Sefair, escritora, Argentina-La Internacional de Escritores Insurgentes, Argentina
  181. Miriam Neptune, bibliotecaria, Estados Unidos
  182. Morella Ortiz, profesora, Estados Unidos
  183. Narcisa Núñez, Estados Unidos
  184. Natanael Disla, investigador social, Santo Domingo, República Dominicana
  185. Nathalie Molina, artesana, República Dominicana
  186. Neici M. Zeller, profesora universitaria emérita, Estados Unidos
  187. Nélida Noemí Duranti, docente jubilada, Argentina
  188. Nelly Rosario, escritora, Estados Unidos- República Dominicana
  189. Nelson Ricart-Guerrero, artista y escritor, Francia
  190. Nelson Santana, catedrático, Estados Unidos
  191. Nicolás Eltit Misleh, estudiante de derecho, Chile
  192. Nixon Boumba, sociólogo, Haití 
  193. Norberto Ganci, periodista, director del Club de La Pluma, Argentina
  194.  Nuna Marcano, profesora dominicana en Estados Unidos
  195. Nuriluz Hermosilla, arqueóloga, Chile
  196. Ochy Curiel, feminista decolonial y profesora universitaria, República Dominicana
  197. Odalys Rivera, organizadora comunitaria, Puerto Rico
  198. Onesima Lienqueo, licenciada en Educación, defensora de los derechos de infancia, Chile
  199. Oscar Álvarez, gestor cultural, Uruguay
  200. Pablo Delano, profesor universitario, Trinity College,  Estados Unidos
  201. Pablo Ruiz, periodista, del Observatorio por el Cierre de la Escuela de las Américas, Chile
  202. Patricio García P., profesor universitario, República Dominicana
  203. Paul Joseph López Oro, assistant professor of Africana Studies, Estados Unidos
  204. Paula Fernández Hernández, docente e investigadora, Islas Canarias, España
  205. Pedro Cabrera, abogado, República Dominicana
  206. Pedro Ureña RIB, lingüista, profesor universitario, República Dominicana
  207. Quisqueya Lora H, historiadora, República Dominicana
  208. Raj Chetty, profesor universitario, Estados Unidos
  209. Ramón Grosfoguel, profesor universitario, Universidad de California, Estados Unidos.
  210. Randol Contreras, profesor universitario, Estados Unidos
  211. Raquel Virginia Cabrera, escritora, Estados Unidos
  212. Rashid Khalidi, profesor universitario, Estados Unidos
  213. Raúl Guadalupe, poeta, ensayista e historiador, profesor universitario, Puerto Rico, Colonia USA
  214. Raùl Zecca Castel, antropólogo, Italia
  215. Ricard Sánchez Andres, activista social, España 
  216. Roberto Carlos García, autor y poeta, Estados Unidos
  217. Robin D. G. Kelley, profesor universitario, UCLA, Estados Unidos
  218. Robin Koenig, obrero, Irlanda
  219. Román López, psicólogo comunitario, República Dominicana
  220.  Rosa Carrasquillo, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos 
  221. Rosa Maribel Ruth Mansilla, estudiante, Argentina
  222. Rosa Navas, Chile
  223. Rosaura Laabidi, enfermera, Estados Unidos
  224. Rubén Sacchi, poeta, Argentina
  225. Ruth Pión, investigadora social, activista, República Dominicana
  226. Samir Eskanda, artista y organizador, Palestina-Reino Unido
  227. Sandra Lema, actriz, Chile
  228. Sandy Plácido, historiadora, Estados Unidos.
  229. Santiago Grullón, PhD; economista, Estados Unidos
  230. Saúl Nieves, activista, Estados Unidos
  231. Saulo Colón, New Politics, Puerto Rico
  232. Scherezade García, Estados Unidos-RD
  233. Sharina Maíllo-Pozo, docente e investigadora, Estados Unidos
  234. Silvio Torres-Saillant, profesor universitario, Syracuse University, Estados Unidos
  235. Soledad Yañez actriz, Chile
  236. Sophie Maríñez, profesora universitaria, Estados Unidos
  237. Steven Salaita, Cairo, Egipto
  238. Taí Fernández, artista, Puerto Rico -TT
  239. Tomás Modesto Galán, poeta, Estados Unidos
  240. Tomás Pérez, teatrista, República Dominicana
  241. Verónica Nuñez, CPA, Puerto Rico
  242. Victor Miguel Castillo de Macedo, antropólogo, Brasil
  243. Victor Vázquez, artista, Puerto Rico
  244. Virgilio Aran, organizador laboral, político y escritor, República Dominicana
  245. Virgilio Burgos, J actor y profesor de teatro, República Dominicana
  246. Yarí Taína Rodríguez Benítez, Directora Ejecutiva-Conuco Campesino, Puerto Rico
  247. Yolanda Velázquez-Vélez, artista, Puerto Rico
  248. Yomaira Figueroa, catedrática, Michigan State University, Estados Unidos     
  249. Yuderkys Espinosa Miñoso, Argentina-República Dominicana
  250. Zuleika Romay Guerra, escritora, Cuba

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