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The bookseller who became the guardian of Bolivian letters half a century ago

La Paz, Sep 19 (EFE) .- Half a century has passed since Gustavo Urquizo Mendoza began working at the Juventud publishing house, created by his parents in 1949, work that has led him to become a protector of out-of-print works that is in charge of reprint or popular versions of classics of Bolivian and universal literature that have reached thousands of homes in Bolivia.

It is a continuous work since 1971, something that has deserved the distinction at the International Book Fair held in La Paz and that places it together with the German Werner Guttentag, founder of the Los Amigos del Libro publishing house in 1945 and in force until today, in one of the mainstays of Bolivian letters.

The style of the texts is unmistakable, as many maintain the aesthetics of the prints of the last century, some with two-color covers that bear only the title and the author’s name, others with illustrations very similar to the decades-old school works that are offered. from a dollar and a half.


Speaking to Efe, Urquizo recalled that he worked at the Juventud publishing house, owned by his parents Rafael and Elsa. As soon as he finished school, his “initial idea” was to study business administration, a career that did not exist at the time, and in the end he combined his studies in economics with that work.

Until 1968, Juventud “was dedicated to importing books and giving their own editions to some printers.” That year started the publishing company that complemented the work of the publisher, he explained.

Urquizo’s work in the 1970s coincided with the dictatorship of Hugo Banzer Suárez (1971-1978) and the respects that government had with the publishing house that imported “left-wing books.”

“They have called (my father) the Ministry of the Interior (…) to tell him to stop or hand over the books, he has had to hand them over to avoid problems and continue with the publishing house,” he recalled.

Juventud grew when he began to produce school texts for primary school and with the efforts to contact prominent authors from the interior of the country, something his father did until his death in 1995.

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