By Emily Williams
El Perro y la Rana is the heavyweight champion among the national publishers and booksellers the Venezuelan government has set up with funding from the Cuban government. Established as an “editorial foundation,” it administers an ambitious and growing network of 57 bookstores as well as the National System of Regional Presses, spread across Venezuela’s 24 states. The publishing arm of El Perro y la Rana has put out some 1,300 titles, all ideologically approved by the socialist government, and all available at under $2 each. They also do occasional special editions of titles, such as Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables or Cervantes’ classic Don Quixote, which have had print runs as high as 1.5 million copies and are distribute in highly publicized free giveaways by the government.
El Perro y la Rana is also responsible for publishing the Chávez government’s 100 titles selected for the Revolutionary Reading Plan, and claims to have already published 5 million copies for the program to get underway.
Still, the program most important to Chávez’s populist philosophy is the National System of Regional Presses. In addition to printing books, they are tasked with giving voice to the people of Venezuela, accepting submissions and preparing them for publication.
In this spirit, El Perro y la Rana, along with other government cultural groups, organized their first literary contest, named “Historias de Barrio Adentro” or Stories from Inside the Neighborhood, inviting unpublished submissions in any genre. The winners of the contest were announced earlier this year — 181 manuscripts representing every part of the country were accepted for publication, among them poems, novels, memoirs, and local history.
VISIT: El Perro y la Rana’s website
CHECK OUT: The winners of the first literary contest
VIEW: Pictures of one of the regional presses online