Librotraficante Caravan Headed for Tucson

The Librotraficante Caravan, "a bus filled with about 60 Latino writers, artists, activists and students 'smuggling' Latino-themed books to Arizona," left Houston yesterday on its four-day, six-city trip to Tucson to protest the removal of books used for the Mexican American Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District earlier this year. Those books were pulled following enactment of a state law that "prohibits public schools from teaching anything that promotes racial or ethnic 'resentment,' or that is designed 'primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group' or advocates 'ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals," as Bookselling This Week described it. The San Antonio Express-News said the law "has deemed some Latino books unpatriotic, accusing them of advancing the overthrow of the federal government."

Tony Diaz, organizer of the tour, said the caravan's "use of words such as 'trafficking, 'underground' and 'smuggling'--and its use of 'tricked-out taco trucks' to deliver them--has captured imaginations" with targeted satire: "It's meant to expose how unfair the law is." The caravan plans to help open at least four "underground libraries" to house many of the banned books.

In an opinion piece for CNN headlined "I am a book trafficker," Diaz wrote: "Arizona politicians never actually feared Latinos would overthrow the government by inciting violence. They feared Latinos would overhaul the government by voting them out of office. By prohibiting Mexican-American Studies, they very well may have created exactly what they feared the most."

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