President López Obrador launched the government’s National Reading Strategy yesterday, declaring that it will strengthen Mexico’s cultural and moral values.
At an event in Mocorito, Sinaloa, López Obrador said that his government’s agenda aims not just to improve people’s lives at home and at work but also strengthen their values, explaining that if it only focused on the former “our politics would be lame, standing on one foot, and both are needed, the material and the spiritual.”
Eduardo Villegas Mejía, coordinator of the government’s Historical and Cultural Memory of Mexico initiative, explained that the reading strategy will be made up of three key pillars.
The first, he said, will be of a formative nature and involve developing the habit of reading from a young age.
The Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) and the National Network of Libraries will play a central role in encouraging children and teenagers to read.
Villegas said that the second pillar of the strategy will be of a sociocultural nature and involve making books accessible to the nation’s citizens.
Paco Ignacio Taibo II, a writer and head of the government affiliated non-profit publishing group Fondo de Cultura Ecónomica (FCE), elaborated on the pillar during his address.
“There won’t be campaigns of ‘you have to read’, no, no, no, none of this ‘you have to’,” he said.
“Doors will be opened so that there is access to reading for millions of Mexicans who today don’t have access for different reasons. We’re going to make books extremely cheap, we’re going to give books away. And not just that, we’re going to force the whole of the publishing industry to lower their prices,” Taibo said.
The third pillar of the strategy, Villegas said, will be of an informative nature and include media campaigns that promote reading as a habit that can develop people’s critical thinking beyond the here and now.
López Obrador’s wife, Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, also attended yesterday’s event and will play a central role in promoting the reading strategy.
“A book can be a path to become better people, better Mexicans, reading awakens the conscience and the imagination, it invites us to reflect, to feel, it allows us to enjoy ourselves, it makes us remember to cry,” the writer, academic and First Lady said.
“Reading can bring us peace, it’s a vehicle for peace, nobody who’s reading is hitting, kicking or attacking anyone so read, read everything you can,” Gutiérrez added.
In a 2013 survey by UNESCO that looked at the reading habits of people in 108 countries, Mexico ranked 107th.