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Banned authors, activists to smuggle contraband wet books into Tucson

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"V for victory, Vatos," exhorts Tony Diaz organizer of the book smuggling operations.

The Tucson school district’s recent decision to confiscate and ban books from the now defunct Mexican-American Studies program has caused a backlash from Latino writers and activists.

Tony Diaz, novelist and founder of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say, is organizing a caravan to take banned books back into Tucson March 12 – 17.

“Me and my fellow Libro-Traficantes will be smuggling contraband books back into Arizona this Spring Break… Arizona we’re throwing the book at you,” said Diaz on his recent Wet Books YouTube statement dedicated to the effort.

The caravan will include banned authors, as well as activists concerned about student’s First Amendment rights. It was announced that Sandra Cisneros, Dagoberto Gilb and Luis Alberto Urrea, whom all have books on the banned list, will participate at various points along the route.

Diaz plans to make stops in cities throughout Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The culminating event will be held in Tucson.

The “smuggling” operation is intended to:

1. Raise awareness of the suspension of the Mexican-American Studies program and the removal of banned books.
2. Promote banned authors and their contributions to American literature, non-fiction and poetry.
3. Celebrate diversity.

A spokesperson for the school district denied the books have been banned.

“No books have been banned. The only books that have been taken from the classroom are the seven books that were part of the curriculum of the Mexican-American Studies classes, and those have been moved to storage.” says Cara Rene, TUSD Director of Communications.

After Tucson lost its recent legal battle over HB2281, which was specifically drafted to remove its Mexican American Studies program, officials confiscated the seven books that were part of the program’s curriculum.

The books were boxed up and carried away to an off campus storage facility. The confiscation triggered a rapid backlash from the public, when there were reports of books being taken away in front of students.

“What a wonderful world I live in. Tony Diaz and gang of Libro-traficantes are starting to heat up the interstate highways with contraband books,” said Gerardo Parra Jr., director at Counterpart Films, on a recent Facebook posting of the event.

Visit librotraficante.com for more information.



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