On April 13 and 14, anarchists in Santiago organized the 2nd annual “Feria del Libro y Propaganda Anarquista,” held in the combative Villa Francia neighborhood of the Chilean capital. Thousands of people participated in the weekend of talks, book presentations, and distribution. More people than last year came out to join in the talks or look at texts, and there was also a much wider variety of titles available, most of them homemade pamphlets or artisanal books, printed, bound, and sold at cost by small anarchist collectives. Commercially published books in Chile tend to be prohibitively expensive but most of the titles on display went for the price of paper and ink and many distros were running out of copies at the end of the first day.
Most of the texts were anarchist classics or current translations from struggles in other places, although there were also a few texts prepared especially for the bookfair or having to do with current or historical struggles in Chile. There were also many documentaries (a larger number of these originating in Latin America) as well as posters, homemade herbal remedies, bike parts, and artwork.
Discussion topics included talks about the conclusion of the Bombs Case, about education and the student movement, the repression in Bolivia, sexist aggressions in the anarchist space, experiences in anarchist organization, and a rural land project in Brazil; presentations of a book on the German autonomous feminist group Rote Zora, a documentary about people killed in struggle under democracy, a book about the Chilean anarchist movement in the ’20s, a book about the street struggle in recent years and the death of Mauricio Morales, and a text from Spain about the social war.
The bookfair revealed a strong interest in the texts and discussion topics, a wide variety of anarchist currents, and a multitudinous participation by young people perhaps attracted to anarchism through the student movement. There was also a near constant police presence outside the fair and multiple identifications.
One final thing that we find noteworthy was the intense participation in the conversation on sexist aggression. This, and the topic of patriarchy in general, is gradually starting to get more attention from Santiago anarchists, although there are few spaces outside of the bookfair where it is talked about in open groups. It was probably the largest debate throughout the weekend, and it demonstrated a variety of perspectives about how to challenge patriarchy. Participants also managed to avoid the sort of derailing, evasion, and absurd reframings that often obstruct such conversations.
The debate immediately led to action, as someone accused of beating his ex-partner, who was tabling at the bookfair, was kicked out (his defense was that he didn’t beat her twice, only once). On a much more depressing note, a trans person tabling at the bookfair was repeatedly harassed, and then told “If you have a dick and dress like a girl, you’re just going to have to accept people laughing at you.” This incident was not talked about nor acted upon. It is worth noting that the older feminists in Chile are largely essentialist and transphobic, and at least some of this has filtered down to the younger anarcha-feminists.