End to the Pinochet Book Tax

Depriving the people of access to reflection and turning it into a luxury was one of the missions pursued by the establishment of the macabre imposed in the dark decades of Chile. How to understand that a country like Chile has the highest book tax in Latin America?, considering that in many countries this tax does not even exist. Spain, 4%, Portugal 5%, the closest is El Salvador with 13%, but still far from the 19% that was imposed. 
The macabre legacy comes from an aberrant era such as the dictatorial one. Only violently without debate could it be established in 1976. Sad and unpresentable legacy that still endures.  Canada, for example, according to different measurements, is the country that on average its inhabitants read the most (13 books) per year and not a few researchers see a direct correlation with the growth of its GDP per capita that it has experienced in recent years.
It is not just about economics at all. A reading, a book, is the possibility of knowing and living a new world. The more we deprive that true experience, the more we restrict imagination, creativity, and anyway, the more we hide and reserve knowledge. The tax plays a disservice when it comes to encouraging family reading in today’s world Entire families do not take a single book a year! Pretty terrible thing. There is certainly a deep cultural work to address, however, considering books as a luxury is an irreversible damage to the contribution of a more equitable and just society. 
It cannot be that the alternative of many who like reading and appreciate what it entails, are photocopies or cheap copies. We cannot condemn people whose encounter with reading is to live a poor experience that can mean missing pages, defoliating or unintelligible. What to say about books for children, where animations, colors, ink quality, etc., plays a key role in awakening interest and taste for reading from a young age. 
Currently everyone suddenly learned that there is an alarming reading lag in the student population. Which is quite strange when it is clearly a problem that has been dragging on for decades. Certainly the tax is not entirely to blame, the competition at present with the thousand and one mostly banal distractions that exist do not give truce, no doubt. However, being aware of the impact that contact with reading and a good book has from the youngest is known to be decisive for the rest of their lives probably. The Mineduc proposes to start a diagnosis this year that will surely confirm the black panorama, but in any case many other initiatives can be made. The answer is clearly no. 
There are a thousand turns to incorporate taxes of real wealth collectors, such as that of private mining, or to the patrimony of the great riches that in Chile, where the 1% takes 27% of everything that is produced, really unusual, such as the recent rejection of the tax reform at the hands of a couple of “honorable” with messianic delusions and with their own agenda. A horrific spectacle. The book, or reading is not a cigarette either, nor less alcohol that must be deprived and limited its consumption, quite the opposite. Nor is it fuel to deserve punishment. 
If we really want and expect a just society that looks at development, let’s start with the basics and end with something as aberrant and retrograde and contradictory as this tax stained by the antithesis of that society that raided houses in search of books and gathered them in a square and burned them in full view of everyone. It is time to repair and overcome this historic and global shame. 
The President of the country is shown as someone reader, well, the news is that the initiative on this issue can come from him. There is still plenty of time to act. For all the girls and boys, so be it!

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The content expressed in this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author, and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of El Mostrador.

Original source in Spanish

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