Eduardo Galeano, after a speech at the National Pedagogical University in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in 2005. Credit Tomas Bravo/Reuters
“Each one has something to tell that deserves to be heard.”
Eduardo Galeano (1941 – 2015)
“[The world is] managed by five, six countries, big corporations and so-called international institutions, which are not at all international. The World Bank is not worldly, and the International Monetary Fund and so on and the big corporations. So, it’s like—like war. Most of wars or military coups or invasions are done in the name of democracy against democracy.”
Best known for “The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent,” published in 1971, it was the book infamously given by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to President Obama at the 2009 Summit of the Americas. The book describes the legacy of the Spanish colonial era and the European and U.S. exploitation that followed it.
“Weaving tapestries of sometimes obscure historical anecdotes, Galeano’s books presented alternative histories that gave equal weight to the sufferings of the downtrodden as to grand achievements of better-known historical figures. For some, the books were rallying calls. Galeano insisted he was merely trying to ‘unmask reality, to reveal the world as it is, as it was, as it may be if we change it.’
“Galeano didn’t spare Latin American governments, using vignettes showing a panoply of injustices including murders of reformers and modern-day subjugation of indigenous peoples. He knew firsthand the boot of oppression, having been arrested in 1973 by Uruguay’s right-wing military regime and forced into exile, first in Argentina, then in Spain until 1985.” (Source: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mr. Galeano wanted to breathe life into history for his readers. “[A great writer is one] that was able to make the past become present telling a history of two centuries ago or three centuries or four or I don’t know how much, and the reader may feel it’s happening right here and now.” He went on to say in a 2013 interview on Democracy Now, “I write trying to recover our real memory, the memory of humankind, what I call the human rainbow, which is much more colorful and beautiful than the other one, the other rainbow. But the human rainbow had been mutilated by machismo, racism, militarism and a lot of other isms, who have been terribly killing our greatness, our possible greatness, our possible beauty.”
In a memorial to Mr. Galeano on Democracy Now, Amy Goodman quotes the writer John Berger: “To publish Eduardo Galeano is to publish the enemy: the enemy of lies, indifference, above all of forgetfulness. Thanks to him, our crimes will be remembered. His tenderness is devastating, his truthfulness furious.” Co-host of the program, Juan Gonzalez says, “This is a huge loss, not only for Latin America, but for those who are fighting for social justice and for truth around the world.”
Watch an interview with Mr. Galeano talking to Democracy Now:
In homage to his idol and socialist role model, Rosa Luxemburg, Mr. Galeano writes:
“In 1919, Rosa Luxemburg, the revolutionary, was murdered in Berlin.
Her killers bludgeoned her with rifle blows and tossed her into the waters of a canal.
Along the way, she lost a shoe.
Someone picked it up, that shoe dropped in the mud.
Rosa longed for a world where justice would not be sacrificed in the name of freedom, and freedom would not be sacrificed in the name of justice.
Every day, some hand picks up that banner.
Dropped in the mud, like the shoe.”