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Guadalajara, Jalisco, April 02, 2023

Literature, Art and Liberty: Raúl Padilla López’s (1954-2023) Cultural Legacy

With profound sadness we express our condolences for the passing of  Raúl Padilla López, president and founder of FIL Guadalajara. His tireless efforts and his legacy will live on in the hearts and memories of readers of literature


The Guadalajara International Book Fair mourns the passing of Raúl Padilla López (1954-2023), founder and   president of the FIL Organizing Committee and certainly one of Mexico’s most important cultural promoters known the world over for his contributions to international cultural dialogue.

            From his university days, Raúl Padilla López  had already developed efforts to promote culture and the arts. In the mid 1970s he become the director of the Cine-Club de Arte and a promoter of two magazines, A and Omeyotl published by the University of Guadalajara’s Department of Philosophy and Letters. Since that time, film and literature were his main contributions to Guadalajara’s cultural life..

            In 1987 he developed a team to inaugurate the Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara (FIL), which very quickly became the most important book event in the Spanish-language world and which became a platform for the promotion of reading and many other artistic expressions. Under his leadership, FIL was consolidated as a premier cultural space which has received international awards including the 2022 Orden de Rio Branco 2022 in Brazil and Spain’s  2020 Princess of Asturias Award in Communication and Humanities.

            Together with Mexican writers Juan José Arreola and  Fernando del Paso, Padilla López was in charge of creating, promoting and consolidating the  Premio de Literatura Latinoamericana y del Caribe Juan Rulfo, now known as the FIL Literature Prize in Romance Languages, which is considered one of the world’s most important annual literary awards.

            Raúl Padilla López also founded the Mexican Film Festival, which became the International FILM Festival of Guadalajara, expanding its reach and importance. Always a visionary, he created LéaLA, a book fair and literary festival that takes place in  Los Angeles, California. Then with writers Carlos Fuentes and Gabriel García Márquez he founded the  Julio Cortázar Latin-American Chair at the University of Guadalajara.

            Always with the inventiveness which characterized his work as a creator and promotor of cultural institutes, he directed the creation of the University of Guadalajara’s Cultural University Center, which includes the Telmex Auditorium, the most important venue in the region; the Juan José Arreola Public Library; the FICG Cinematique; the Conjunto Santander of Dramatic Arts and the Environment Science Museum, which is presently under construction.

           Raúl Padilla’s accomplishments as the architect and promotor of cultural events have received numerous national and international recognitions. The French government bestowed upon him  the Knight of the Legion of Honor as well as the Generalitat de Cataluña Saint Jordi Cross.  For his work in promoting cultural activities he received awards from Guadalajara’s Mayor’s Office and the Congress of the State of Jalisco; the Elías Sarquís Prize; the Isabel la Católica medal bestowed by then King of Spain Juan Carlos I; the Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes patron award, among other awards, distinctions, and recognitions.

           There is absolutely no doubt that he was responsible for the development of many cultural institutions in Guadalajara, the State of Jalisco and Mexico: his legacy will be defined by the different organizations and cultural centers that he inaugurated and strengthened. Marisol Schulz Manaut, FIL Guadalajara Director, remarked upon hearing of Raúl Padilla López’s death that his passing “is not only a professional loss, put a personal one, because to me he was not only a visionary for how he elevated culture in Jalisco, Mexico and in the Spanish language world, but also because he was an amazing friend who I had the honor of working with for almost fourteen years and who I initially met in 1987 during the first Guadalajara International Book Fair.

             On behalf of the FIL Organizing Committee, Schulz Manaut added: “We will follow his example. FIL will continue to grow with the legacy Raúl left us and we will work harder than ever, because we owe his memory the continuation of what he so much loved: the Guadalajara International Book Fair and all the other programs that he initiated. As a team, we are grieving and in sorrow, but we will find the strength to continue developing Raul Padilla’s legacy. Rest in peace, dear friend.”

            In closing, the Guadalajara International Book Fair joins the voices of others who have expressed recognition of all that  Raúl Padilla López accomplished in his role as the president of FIL, as the cultural promotor who put Guadalajara and Jalisco on the global cultural map. We will honor his memory by working to ensure that literature continues to be an agent for transformation and for the consolidation of a space open to all kinds of voices and for the free exchange and debate of ideas.

May he rest in peace.


For further information contact:

Press Office and Publicity General coordinator, Mariño González at the phone number (+52) 33 3810 0331, ext. 952