Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Late Uruguayan Author Galeano Receives State Honors

The late Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano will receive state honors usually reserved for deceased heads of state and ministers.

The body of the prolific writer who passed away on Monday due to lung cancer will be on view at the legislative chambers in Montevideo. Galeano will be displayed for at least seven hours today in the same hall where other important Uruguayan cultural figures also received honors after their deaths including Mario Benedetti and Carlos Páez Vilaró. In addition, senators from the ruling Frente Amplio bloc proposed a special session of Congress in recognition of the man who died at the 74.

“He was an intellectually brilliant and totally self-made man,” said ex-president José Mujica about Galeano. The current senator also praised the late author as “one of the few chosen people who in the last thirty to forty years dignified us as Latin Americans.”

Born in 1940, Eduardo German Hughes Galeano began his career by publishing cartoon under the pseudonym “Gius” based on the Spanish-language pronunciation of the name “Hughes”.  He would eventually drop that moniker as he began writing news articles while also working a series of other jobs.

In 1971, Galeano published what is considered as perhaps his most famous text: “Open Veins of Latin America.” The book strongly criticized what he viewed as the historic exploitation and ransacking of Latin America’s natural resources at the hands of foreign powers.  His work endeared him as a leftist intellectual but was also banned by in his native country as well as Chile and Argentina. Galeano was imprisoned following the 1973 military coup in Uruguay and forced into exile for nearly twelve years.

Interest in “Open Veins” pique once more in 2009 after then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez gave a copy to U.S. leader Barack Obama at the Summit of the Americas and urged him to read it. Galeano generally backed the regimes of Chávez and current chief Nicolas Maduro including co-signing a letter denouncing Obama’s executive order imposing additional sanctions against the Maduro regime. But according to Ticio Escobar, Paraguayan anthropologist and friend of Galeano, the Uruguayan was upset that Chávez used “Open Veins” in order to attract media attention to himself.

Galeano continued to write about politics and economics in texts like “The Memory of Fire” trilogy in the 1980s, “The Book of Embraces” in 1991 and a compilation book to be published posthumously of essays on the treatment of women.  Yet his fanaticism over one of the sport of soccer inspired him to write his 1995 book “Football in Sun and Shadow”. Hence, it should come as no surprise that Argentine soccer star Javier Mascherano and the president of FC Barcelona joined the scores of tributes from Latin American leaders and writers for the lifelong fan of Uruguay’s Club Nacional de Football.

Despite Galeano’s ideological leanings, Siddharth Saxena noted that the late author was not afraid to go after anti-soccer critics from both the left and right:
He wasn't too puzzled by right-wing conservatives disdain for football. "The scorn of many conservative intellectuals comes from their belief that football-worship is exactly the religion people. Possessed by football, the proles (working class) think with their feet, which is the only way they think," he wrote in an essay titled, 'The Opiate of the People?'

Then he drew a similar parallel on the strange leftist suspicion for the sport. "In contrast, many leftist intellectuals denigrate football because it castrates the masses and derails their revolutionary ardor. Bread and circus: circus without the bread," he laughed, but would never himself be ashamed being forever seduced by football. "Like the tango," he wrote of the sport's appeal, "football blossomed in the slums. It required no money and could be played with nothing more than sheer desire."
Galeano died on the same day as Nobel laureate Günter Grass and days shy of the one-year anniversary of Latin American literary luminary Gabriel García Márquez.

Video Source– user enjoywithusandhavefun

Online Sources (English) – The Times of India

Online Sources (Spanish) – Perfil.com, El Observador, La Vanguardia, La Republica Diario

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