To the Editors:
We are sure many of your readers will want to join us in protesting the suspension of four Spanish publishing houses by the Ministry of Information and Tourism of the Franco government. These houses—Editorial Ciencia Nueva, Ediciones Halcon, Equipo Editorial, and Ricardo Aguilera Editor—have become known to many of us in recent years through their enterprising efforts to bring some of the best in recent American writing to their country. Their suspension is not only a personal blow to owners and employees, but a blow against the very small measure of intellectual freedom enjoyed by Spanish writers, publishers, and reading public.
The decree of suspension, dated March 24, 1969, was explained a few days later by the Director-General of the Ministry of Information and Tourism to a large audience of publishers at meetings of the National Book Institute in Madrid and Barcelona. The Director-General accused the suspended publishers of using the Press and Printing Law for ends beyond the law, in some cases, as he said, approaching advocacy of political subversion. His explanation left many in the gatherings puzzled, since all titles published by the four houses were printed under the system of “voluntary consultation” or “previous deposit.”
In other words, each book was seen and approved for publication by the very Ministry which has now decreed the closing of these houses! The four publishers under attack have issued in all some four hundred titles, each of which was published in accord with this system. In those cases where this prior censorship has led to legal tests, the courts have often ruled in favor of the publishers, but in no case have the latter attempted to publish in defiance of the Ministry or the courts. In fact, when under the recent “state of exception” decreed by the Franco government works published by more than thirty houses were seized and in the end ten titles were definitively prohibited, no book published by these four publishers was banned.
Given these circumstances and facts, it is clear to us that all of Spanish publishing is under threat of extinction and we strongly urge our colleagues in publishing, as well as authors, reviewers, and readers to join us in protesting strongly to the Spanish government. The decree is at present under appeal and may still be altered.
Address your letters and cables to Dirección General de Cultura Popular, Ministerio de Informacion y Turismo, Madrid, España. Be sure to send a copy of your message to Editorial Ciencia Nueva, S. L., Cruz Verde 22, Madrid 13
S. A. Russell
New York City