AAP Names Venezuela’s Editorial Dahbar its International Freedom to Publish Winner

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The 2022 AAP Jeri Laber Award honors Venezuela’s Editorial Dahbar, ‘one of the few publishers still operating in the country.’

Key publications from Venezuela’s Editorial Dahbar highlighted by the Association of American Publishers in the course of its statement, honoring the Caracas publisher with its International Freedom to Publish | Jeri Laber Award

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

See also: Guatemala’s Raúl Figueroa Sarti Fêted at Guadalajara

Pallante: ‘Respect, Gratitude, and Admiration
Last year, you’ll remember, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) named Guatemala City’s F&G Editores and its founding publisher Raúl Figueroa Sarti to receive its 2021 International Freedom to Publish Award. As it happens, the Guadalajara International Book Fair this week has honored Figueroa Sarti, as well, with its Editorial Merit Prize.

And today (November 30), the American publishers have announced that the 2022 honor–also known as AAP’s Jeri Laber Award– stays in the Latin American markets, going to Caracas’ Editorial Dahbar and its founder Sergio Dahbar.

Much like the International Publishers Association (IPA) 10,000-Swiss-franc Prix Voltaire, the American publishers’ award honors publishers and publishing houses that have demonstrated determination and courage in publishing under difficult and often potentially dangerous circumstances, usually in the context of efforts at censorship and intimidation.

Maria A. Pallante

In a prepared statement today, association president and CEO Maria A. Pallante is quoted, saying, “It is with respect, gratitude, and admiration that we recognize Editorial Dahbar with our International Freedom to Publish Award.

“In doing so, we’re reminded that publishers around the world routinely risk their freedom and safety to bring important works to light.”

In some discussion of the selection of Dahbar by the AAP Freedom to Publish committee, the association’s media messaging reads, “Most publishing houses fled Venezuela in the mid-2000s, partly in response to economic issues, but also as the result of a new law againsthate speech’ that gave the authorities broad powers to silence speech critical of the government. 

As one of the few publishers still operating in the country, Editorial Dahbar and its authors face danger from both organized crime syndicates that work with the government, and the government itself. Some of Editorial Dahbars authors have been forced to flee the country.

In addition to harassment of authors,” the organization writes, ” the Venezuelan state has a history of applying economic pressure to its critics. As one example, Venezuelan bookstores with links to the state refuse to carry books from Editorial Dahbar.”

Dahbar: ‘Difficult Conditions’

In a comment from Sergio Dahbar on the honor, he says, “It is an honor to receive this award, a recognition for the work we do in difficult conditions and an encouragement to continue defending those who are silenced, who have no voice to express their ideas.”

Sergio Dahbar is a journalist who worked as a scout for Random House Mondadori (now Penguin Random House) in Venezuela, and has served in the past as deputy editor of the news outlet El Nacional. He became the founder in 2006 of a magazine, El Librero, which reviewed books in Venezuela and included some content from The New York Review of Book.

Sergio Dahbar

In addition to investigative journalism, Editorial Dahbar specializes in essays, as well as fiction, memoirs, diaries, and other testimonials, the AAP notes in its announcement, and has published more than 110 titles in its 11 years of operation.

And for AAP, the organization’s Freedom to Publish committee chair, Terry Adams–who is also Little, Brown’s digital and paperback publisher–is quote, saying, “Editorial Dahbar has exhibited tremendous courage and commitment in continuing to publish, even as the social and political environments in Venezuela have deteriorated, causing many others to flee the country.

Today we applaud Sergio Dahbar and his colleagues for their bravery, even as we celebrate our shared belief that the dissemination of ideas and information through books is essential to the restoration and maintenance of democratic society.”

The association reports that Editorial Dahbar asks you to follow it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok with the handle @editorialdahbar.

The AAP’s award was created in 2002 and is named for Jeri Laber, a co-founder of Human Rights Watch and a founding member of the organization’s Freedom to Publish committee

As many who follow news from Latin America know, the Venezuelan president has today in a news conference complained that the United States’ decision to allow Chevron to resume some oil operations in Venezuela is a move “in the right direction, though not enough for what Venezuela demands”–that being a complete lifting of US sanctions against its oil industry. As Agence France-Presse and other news services are confirming, the easing of constraints on Chevron follows a newly signed accord between the Maduro government and its opposition to resume negotiations.

Julie Turkewitz and Zolan Kanno-Youngs at The New York Times wrote on Saturday that the Biden administration in Washington green-lighted the change in part of the sanctions’ limitations, as “part of a shift in US strategy on Venezuela that many analysts say has been accelerated by reduced global oil supplies as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Venezuela holds vast oil reserves, and its energy production potential has grown in global relevance amid the largest land war in Europe since World War II.”

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 202nd awards-related report in the 215 publication days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Association of American Publishers is here. More from us on the freedom of expression and freedom to publish is here, more coverage of publishing in Latin America is here, and more on the International Publishers Association’s Prix Voltaire is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner to the International Publishers Association.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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