May 10, 2022
Raúl Figueroa Sarti founder of F&G Editores Delivers Acceptance Speech for the AAP International Freedom to Publish | Jeri Laber Award During 2022 Annual General Meeting
Raúl Figueroa Sarti, founder of F&G Editores, Guatemala, delivered a pre-taped speech accepting the 2021 Association of American Publishers International Freedom to Publish | Jeri Laber Award during AAP’s Annual General Meeting on Monday, May 9th.
In introducing Mr. Figuero’s speech Terry Adams, Digital and Paperback Publisher, Little, Brown and Company, and Chair, AAP Freedom to Publish Committee commented that the annual award “honors a publisher outside the United States, who has demonstrated courage and fortitude in defending freedom of expression. It’s no secret to any of us in this virtual room, the truth is under constant assault today and people who publish the truth are embattled and at risk around the world.
“In conferring this award, the AAP is guided by the principle that if one of us is denied the right to publish that threat affects us all. The winner of this year’s award is a publisher in Guatemala, a country where political turmoil in the late 20th century cost untold thousands of lives, and where the democratic institutions put in place in recent decades, continue to be fragile with human rights, including freedom of expression, constantly challenged.
“Despite frequent threat from official sensors and silencers, the independent publishing company F&G Editores has managed to publish many significant new works of Central American literature, as well as government documents compiled purportedly for public consumption, but because they were considered embarrassing to certain people in power, the Guatemalan Government has actively sought to suppress. Through perseverance and despite harassment F&G Editores has grown to become one of Central America’s pre-eminent publishing companies.”
A video of Raúl Figueroa Sarti’s full speech can be seen here:
About F&G Editores, Guatemala
F&G Editores was founded in 1993 by Raúl Figueroa Sarti, who continues to run the house.
Guatemala emerged 25 years ago from a 36-year armed conflict in which 200,000 individuals, mostly indigenous people, lost their lives, and more than 40,000 disappeared, whereabouts still unknown today. Since then, drug lords, gangs, corrupt politicians, and military officers have created an environment that is highly challenging.
Despite significant personal danger, Mr. Figueroa Sarti has chosen to build his publishing house in Guatemala, in the process serving as an activist for a humane civil society in a region torn by war and corruption.
As a result of his unrelenting activism while running F&G Editores Mr. Figueroa Sarti has received numerous personal threats over the years, some direct and others veiled. In 2009, he faced false charges as part of a campaign designed to paralyze his publishing operation. He initially received a one-year prison sentence, which was later suspended. He has subsequently been targeted by both the government and far right business groups who have launched a series of smear campaigns falsely alleging financial wrongdoing, among other allegations.
Since its launch F&G Editores has earned an unquestionable reputation for excellence, publishing some the most important fiction and non-fiction in Central America.
In 1997, F&G published an edition of the Guatemalan criminal procedure code that immediately became one of the best-selling books in the country, rolling through five editions in a single year. The debut of this volume marked the first time that court decisions and law changes were ever published in Guatemala. From the editorial perspective, the quality of paper, interior design, format, cover design, and binding of this compendium was considered unique in Guatemala.
Over the course of its existence, F&G Editores has published more than 180 titles, including the works of Guatemala’s Miguel Ángel Asturias, 1967 Nobel Prize for Literature, and texts by other important Guatemalan writers, including a series entitled Miguel Ángel Asturias National Prize Collection for Literature that showcases texts by award-winning authors such as Rodrigo Rey Rosa, Marco Antonio Flores, David Unger, and Arturo Arias.
F&G Editores has also published numerous non-fiction titles that have put Mr. Figueroa Sarti’s life in jeopardy in Guatemala, including:
Lineage and Racism in Guatemala. Published in 2005, 14 years after its first edition in Costa Rica, this book exposed racism against the Mayan peoples.
- State Crime: The Parlacen Case. Published in 2011, this book brought to light the involvement of state security forces in the murder of Salvadoran deputies in Guatemalan territory, and later the murder in prison of the police officers accused of the crimes.
- Convicted of Genocide. In 2013 this book revealed that General Ríos Montt was convicted of genocide, a sentence that had been officially concealed by the courts.
- From the Barracks. Another Vision of Guatemala. Published in 2017, this book revealed the vision of a progressive military man in the Guatemalan army who denounced the links between the military leadership and the economic elite.
- Guatemala: Causes and Origins of the Internal Armed Conflict; Conclusions and Recommendations. Published in 2019, this book includes excerpts from the voluminous report prepared after the signing of the 1996 Peace Accords that ended the 36-year internal war which Guatemalan authorities had tried to conceal.
- The Back Courtyard: The Hour of the Comedian. Published in 2019, this book reveals the corrupt regime of former president Jimmy Morales and his links with the powerful economic elite that for decades sponsored war in Guatemala.
- Dissent and Discipline. Published in 2021, this non-fiction book exposed methods put into practice to “discipline” businessmen who demonstrated against corruption in Guatemala in 2015 and 2016.
In 2021 F&G Editores planned to publish 12 books, seven of which are literature and five of which deal with social and political issues in Guatemala.
F&G Editores was also among the five publishers shortlisted for the International Publishers Association (IPA) 2021 IPA Prix Voltaire, an award that recognizes exemplary courage in upholding the freedom to publish and in providing a platform, through print or digital media, for others to exercise their right to freedom of expression.
About the AAP International Freedom to Publish | Jeri Laber Award:
The International Freedom to Publish Award, which was established in 2002, recognizes a publisher outside the United States who has demonstrated courage and fortitude in defending freedom of expression. The Award, which includes a cash prize, is named in honor of Jeri Laber, a co-founder of Human Rights Watch and founding member of AAP’s Freedom to Publish Committee. In some instances, the honoree’s particular circumstances may prevent him or her from accepting the award or communicating in person.
Previous recipients of the award include Bangladesh-based Jagriti Publishing House in 2020; South Africa–based NB Publishers in 2019; and in 2018 Azadeh Parsapour, a London-based publisher of censored Iranian authors.
AAP | The Association of American Publishers represents the leading book, journal, and education publishers in the United States on matters of law and policy, advocating for outcomes that incentivize the publication of creative expression, professional content, and learning solutions. As essential participants in local markets and the global economy, our members invest in and inspire the exchange of ideas, transforming the world we live in one word at a time. Find us online at publishers.org, or on twitter at @AmericanPublish.