The Association of American Publishers (AAP) today awarded Editorial Dahbar, Venezuela, the 2022 AAP International Freedom to Publish | Jeri Laber Award. Given annually, the award recognizes a publisher outside the United States who has demonstrated courage and fortitude in defending freedom of expression. In bestowing this award, AAP has long been guided by the principle that if one of us is denied the right to publish, that threat affects us all.
“It is with respect, gratitude, and admiration that we recognize Editorial Dahbar with our International Freedom to Publish Award,” commented Maria A. Pallante, President and CEO, Association of American Publishers. “In doing so, we are reminded that publishers around the world routinely risk their freedom and safety to bring important works to light.”
“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,” commented Terry Adams, Chair, AAP Freedom to Publish Committee and Digital and Paperback Publisher, Little, Brown and Company. “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.”
“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," commented Sergio Dahbar, founder of Editorial Dahbar.
The Publishing Environment in Venezuela
Most publishing houses fled Venezuela in the mid-2000s, partly in response to economic issues, but also as the result of a new law against “hate speech” that gave the authorities broad powers to silence speech that was 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 Dahbar’s authors have been forced to flee the country.
In addition to harassment of authors, 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.
Sample Titles from Editorial Dahbar
Ahora van a conocer al Diablo
Ahora van a conocer al Diablo, published in October 2021, features interviews with 10 political prisoners who have suffered abuse and torture by different officials of the Venezuelan government. The news outlet El Pitazo wrote, “The book is a risk, in every way. Not only because it is a printed publication in times when Venezuelan publishers have had to reinvent themselves and emigrate in order to survive, but because of the journalistic exercise that made possible the collection of these raw, painful testimonies.”
Doble crimen. Tortura, esclavitud sexual e impunidad
Doble crimen. Tortura, esclavitud sexual e impunidad, which was published in 2021, tells the story of Linda Loaiza, a victim of a “double crime”: gender-based violence, followed by attempts on the part of prosecutors, judges, and public officials to silence her complaints and minimize facts.
Afiuni, la presa del comandante
Afiuni, la presa del comandante, published in 2021, tells the story of María Lourdes Afuini, a lawyer and judge who was arbitrarily and illegally detained for following United Nation’s guidance in releasing a prisoner who had been held in pre-trial detention for three years – one year longer than is allowed under Venezuelan law.
Published in December 2020, Estado delincuente deals with governmental corruption. The author of Estado delincuente, Carlos Tablante, had to flee the country and now lives in Spain.
El gran saqueo
El gran saqueo, published in November 2015, takes a deep dive into corrupt Venezuelan institutions, looking at collaborations among organized crime syndicates, government officials, and military personnel that resulted in at least $25 billion being stolen through the creation of fictitious companies, looting, and misuse of public money, leaving a nation in need without critical government support.
El prisionero rojo
El prisionero rojo, published in November 2013, tells the story of Iván Simonovis, the Metropolitan Secretary of Security turned famous Venezuelan prisoner. Blamed by Chavismo for the violent attempt to unseat Hugo Chavez in 2002, Simonovis was subject to a sham trial, with many irregularities and minimal evidence, leading to an unjust 30-year sentence.
Essays, Fiction, Diaries
In addition to investigative journalism, Editorial Dahbar specializes in essays, as well as fiction, memoirs, diaries, and other testimonials, and has published more than 110 titles in the eleven years since its founding.
How to Support Editorial Dahbar
Ongoing international attention can help protect Editorial Dahbar from future attacks and attempts to limit its freedom to publish. As a result. Editorial Dahbar asks that you follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and Tiktok under *@editorialdahbar* for updates and news.
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 Guatemala-based F&G Editores in 2021, 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.