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lopez obrador, raul padilla López Obrador urged reporters to investigate book fair chief Padilla, right.

AMLO finds new adversary in head of Guadalajara Book Fair

The event brings in writers critical of his government, president claims

President López Obrador identified a new adversary on Friday — the Guadalajara International Book Fair, which he claimed was dedicated to opposing his government.

The president aimed his criticism at book fair founder and president Raúl Padilla for inviting writers and intellectuals who were opponents of his administration to give presentations at the annual fair, Latin America’s largest.

Questioned by a reporter about a claim by Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro that the federal government was paying for a social media campaign knocking the state government, the president denied the claim and introduced Padilla into the discussion.

Observing that the two had their differences, he said Alfaro “belongs to this group of conservatives; he gets along well with the head of the University of Guadalajara, a historical leader, Padilla.

“Look, the Guadalajara Book Fair, the recent ones, [have been] dedicated against us, but not only that, they bring [Mario] Vargas Llosa, [Héctor] Aguilar Camín and all of those, [Enrique] Krauze,” the president said, referring to writers who have been critical of his government.

López Obrador appeared to be especially irked by Padilla’s remarks about populism when he accepted the Princess of Asturias award for communication and humanities on behalf of the fair last month.

“Books – and the printed word in general – feed on freedom, while at the same time expanding it,” Padilla said. “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.”

For the president, it was the last sentence “that really caught my attention.” He said it reflected “decadence” on the part of universities, intellectuals and “those who hand out these prizes.”

He invited reporters to investigate Padilla. “I’ll leave you with some homework to conduct an investigation to determine since when this man has been in charge of the university.

“And when you have done the research you can help us here so as to inform.”

According to the university, Padilla, 66, was rector from 1989 until 1995. He founded the book fair in 1987.

The book fair responded to the president with a statement saying the event was an initiative designed to promote the flow of ideas and reasoned dialogue. “Over the course of more than three decades it has given space to authors, thinkers and public figures from all countries, all ideological currents and all political affiliations.”

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