Eduardo Galeano

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Eduardo Galeano
Eduardo Galeano (Feria del Libro de Madrid, 31 de mayo de 2008).jpg
Eduardo Galeano in 2005.
Born Eduardo Germán María Hughes Galeano
(1940-09-03) 3 September 1940 (age 74)
Montevideo, Uruguay
Occupation Writer, journalist
Nationality Uruguayan
Period 20th century
Spouse Helena Villagra
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Hughes and the second or maternal family name is Galeano.

Eduardo Hughes Galeano (born 3 September 1940) is a Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist. His best-known works are Las venas abiertas de América Latina (Open Veins of Latin America, 1971) and Memoria del fuego (Memory of Fire Trilogy, 1982–6), which have both been translated into 20 languages and transcend orthodox genres: combining journalism, political analysis, and history. The author himself has proclaimed his obsession as a writer saying, "I'm a writer obsessed with remembering, with remembering the past of America and above all that of Latin America, intimate land condemned to amnesia."[1]


Galeano was born in Montevideo, Uruguay.

He started his career as a journalist in the early 1960s as editor of Marcha, an influential weekly journal which had such contributors as Mario Vargas Llosa, Mario Benedetti, Manuel Maldonado Denis and Roberto Fernández Retamar. For two years he edited the daily Época and worked as editor-in-chief of the University Press. In 1962, having divorced, he remarried to Graciela Berro.

In 1973, a military coup took power in Uruguay; Galeano was imprisoned and later was forced to flee. His book Open Veins of Latin America was banned by the right-wing military government, not only in Uruguay, but also in Chile and Argentina.[2] He settled in Argentina where he founded the cultural magazine, Crisis. In 1976 he married for the third time to Helena Villagra; however, in the same year, the Videla regime took power in Argentina in a bloody military coup and his name was added to the lists of those condemned by the death squads. He fled again, this time to Spain, where he wrote his famous trilogy: Memoria del fuego (Memory of Fire).

Galeano in 1984

At the beginning of 1985 Galeano returned to Montevideo, where he continues to live. Following the victory of Tabaré Vázquez and the Broad Front alliance in the 2004 Uruguayan elections marking the first left-wing government in Uruguayan history Galeano wrote a piece for The Progressive titled "Where the People Voted Against Fear" in which Galeano showed support for the new government and concluded that the Uruguayan populace used "common sense" and were "tired of being cheated" by the traditional Colorado and Blanco parties.[3] Following the creation of TeleSUR, a pan-Latin American television station based in Caracas, Venezuela, in 2005 Galeano along with other left-wing intellectuals such as Tariq Ali and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel joined the network's 36 member advisory committee.[4]

In 2006, Galeano signed a petition in support of the independence of Puerto Rico from the United States of America.

On 10 February 2007, Galeano underwent a successful operation to treat lung cancer.[5] During an interview with journalist Amy Goodman following Barack Obama's election as President of the United States in November 2008, Galeano said, "The White House will be Barack Obama's house in the time coming, but this White House was built by black slaves. And I’d like, I hope, that he never, never forgets this".[6] At the 17 April 2009, opening session of the 5th Summit of the Americas held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave a copy of Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America to U.S. President Barack Obama, who was making his first diplomatic visit to the region.[7] This made the English language edition of the book go to No. 2 position and the Spanish version to No. 11 on the bestseller list.

In a May 2009 interview he spoke about his past and recent works, some of which deal with the relationships between freedom and slavery, and democracies and dictatorships: "not only the United States, also some European countries, have spread military dictatorships all over the world. And they feel as if they are able to teach democracy". He also talked about how and why he has changed his writing style, and his recent rise in popularity.[8]

In April 2014 Galeano gave an interview at the II Bienal Brasil do Livro e da Leitura in which he regretted some aspects of writing Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina, saying "Time has passed, I've begun to try other things, to bring myself closer to human reality in general and to political economy specifically. 'The Open Veins' tried to be a political economy book, but I simply didn't have the necessary education. I do not regret writing it, but it is a stage that I have since passed."[9] This interview was picked up by many critics of Galeano's work in which they used the statement to reinforce their own criticisms.However, in an interview with Jorge Majfud he said " The book, written ages ago, is still alive and kicking. I am simply honest enough to admit that at this point in my life the old writing style seems rather stodgy, and that it's hard for me to recognize myself in it since I now prefer to be increasingly brief and untrammeled [The] voices that have been raised against me and against The Open Veins of Latin America are seriously ill with bad faith." [10]


"Fleas dream of buying themselves a dog, and nobodies dream of escaping poverty: that, one magical day, good luck will suddenly rain down on them – will rain down in buckets. But good luck doesn’t rain down, yesterday, today, tomorrow or ever. Good luck doesn’t even fall in a fine drizzle, no matter how hard the nobodies summon it, even if their left hand is tickling, or if they begin the new day on their right foot, or start the new year with a change of brooms. The nobodies: nobody’s children, owners of nothing. The nobodies: the no-ones, the nobodied, running like rabbits, dying through life, screwed every which way. Who are not, but could be. Who don’t speak languages, but dialects. Who don’t have religions, but superstitions. Who don’t create art, but handicrafts. Who don’t have culture, but folklore. Who are not human beings, but human resources. Who do not have faces, but arms. Who do not have names, but numbers. Who do not appear in the history of the world, but in the crime reports of the local paper. The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them."

— Eduardo Galeano, "The Nobodies"[11]

Las venas abiertas de América Latina (Open Veins of Latin America) is arguably Galeano's best-known work. In this book, he analyzes the history of Latin America as a whole from the time period of European contact with the New World to contemporary Latin America arguing against the European and later U.S. economic exploitation and political dominance over the region. It was the first of his many books to be translated by Cedric Belfrage into English. It is a classic among scholars of Latin American history. The book gained popularity in the English-speaking world after the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave it as a gift to U.S. President Barack Obama.

Memoria del fuego (Memory of Fire) is a three-volume narrative of the history of America, North and South. The characters are historical figures; generals, artists, revolutionaries, workers, conquerors and the conquered, who are portrayed in brief episodes which reflect the colonial history of the continent. It starts with pre-Columbian creation myths and ends in the 1980s. It highlights not only the colonial oppression that the continent underwent but particularly the long history of resistance, from individual acts of heroism to mass revolutionary movements.

Memoria del fuego is widely praised by reviewers. Galeano was compared to John Dos Passos and Gabriel García Márquez. Ronald Wright wrote in the Times Literary Supplement: "Great writers...dissolve old genres and found new ones. This trilogy by one of South America's most daring and accomplished authors is impossible to classify."

In New York Times Book Review Jay Parini praised as perhaps his most daring work The Book of Embraces (El libro de los abrazos), a collection of short, often lyrical stories presenting Galeano's views on emotion, art, politics, and values, as well as offering a scathing critique of modern capitalistic society and views on an ideal society and mindset. (The Book of Embraces was the last book Cedric Belfrage translated before he died in 1991.)

Galeano is also an avid soccer fan; in his childhood, Galeano had the dream of becoming a soccer player and this desire is the subject of some of his writings, among them Soccer in Sun and Shadow (1995), a review of the history of the game. Galeano compares it with a theater performance and with war; he criticizes its unholy alliance with global corporations but attacks leftist intellectuals who reject the game and its attraction to the broad masses for ideological reasons.

Galeano's Espejos (Mirrors) is Galeano's most expansive work since Memory of Fire. Galeano offers a broad mosaic of history told through the voices of the unseen, unheard, and forgotten. Recalling the lives of artists, writers, gods and visionaries, Galeano's makes "lore out of the mass of history and stories that make this world, and make us human." (Rick Simonson) Mirrors was published in the United States in English by Nation Books in June 2009.

Galeano is a regular contributor to The Progressive and the New Internationalist, and has also been published in the Monthly Review and The Nation.

Awards and honors[edit]


Year Spanish title English translation
1963 Los días siguientes The following days
1964 China
1967 Guatemala, país ocupado Guatemala: Occupied country (1969)
1967 Reportajes
1967 Los fantasmas del día del léon y otros relatos
1968 Su majestad el fútbol
1969 La crisis económica
1971 Las venas abiertas de América Latina Open Veins of Latin America (1973)

Open Veins of Latin America ISBN 0-85345-279-2 ; ISBN 0-85345-990-8

1971 Siete imágenes de Bolivia
1971 Violencia y enajenación
1973 Crónicas latinoamericanas
1973 Vagamundo (ISBN 84-7222-307-8)
1975 La canción de nosotros (ISBN 84-350-0124-5)
1977 Conversaciones con Raimón (ISBN 84-7432-034-8)
1978 Días y noches de amor y de guerra (ISBN 84-7222-891-6) Days and Nights of Love and War (ISBN 0-85345-620-8)
1980 La piedra arde
1981 Voces de nuestro tiempo (ISBN 84-8360-237-7)
1982–1986 Memoria del fuego, (1, 1982, ISBN 84-323-0439-5) Memory of Fire ISBN 0-394-54805-1 (v. 1)
1983 Guatemala: un pueblo en lucha (ISBN 84-85781-18-X)
1984 Aventuras de los jóvenes dioses
1985 Ventana sobre Sandino
1985 Contraseña (ISBN 950-9413-06-2)
1986 El descubrimiento de América que todavía no fue y otros escritos (ISBN 84-7668-105-4)
1988 El tigre azul y otros artículos
1988 Entrevistas y artículos (1962–1987)
1989 El libro de los abrazos (ISBN 84-323-0670-3) The Book of Embraces (ISBN 0-393-02960-3)
1989 Nosotros decimos no (ISBN 84-323-0675-4 We Say No (ISBN 0-393-30898-7)
1990 América Latina para entenderte mejor
1990 Palabras: antología personal
1990 An Uncertain Grace: Photographs by Sebastiao Salgado with essays by Eduardo Galeano and Fred Ritchin (ISBN 0-89381-421-0)
1992 Ser como ellos y otros artículos (ISBN 84-323-0761-0)
1993 Amares
1993 Las palabras andantes (ISBN 84-323-0814-5) Walking Words (ISBN 0-393-03782-7)
1994 Úselo y tírelo (ISBN 950-742-542-X)
1995 El fútbol a sol y sombra (ISBN 84-323-0879-X Football (soccer) in Sun and Shadow (ISBN 1-85984-848-6)
1996 Mujeres (ISBN 968-6719-51-2)
1997 Apuntes para el fin de siglo: antología (ISBN 950-860-055-1)
1998 100 relatos breves: antología (ISBN 950-860-066-7)
1998 Patas arriba: la escuela del mundo al revés (8432309745) Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World (2000, ISBN 0-8050-6375-7)
1999 I Am Rich Potosi: The Mountain That Eats Men photographs by Stephen Ferry, text by Ferry and Galeano
2001 Tejidos: antología (ISBN 84-8063-500-2)
2004 Bocas del Tiempo (ISBN 9974-620-16-3) Voices of time: a life in stories (ISBN 978-0-8050-7767-4)
2008 Espejos: Una historia casi universal (ISBN 978-84-323-1314-1) Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (2009, ISBN 1-56858-423-7)
2012 Los hijos de los días (ISBN 978-8432316272) Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History (ISBN 978-1568587479)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mark your calendars...... Octopus Books
  2. ^ Fresh Off Worldwide Attention for Joining Obama’s Book Collection, Uruguayan Author Eduardo Galeano Returns with "Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone".
  3. ^ Eduardo Galeano, "Where the People Voted Against Fear" January 2005 The Progressive
  4. ^ Alfonso Daniels, "'Chavez TV' beams into South America" 26 July 2005 The Guardian
  5. ^ Eduardo Galeano se recupera de operación El Universal, 11 February 2007 (Spanish)
  6. ^ Interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, 5 November 2008 (video, audio, and print transcript)
  7. ^ The Washington Times
  8. ^ Audio and transcript of interview, May 2009
  9. ^ Sounds and Colours
  10. ^ The Open Veins of Eduardo Galeano, Monthly Review, 11.06.14
  11. ^ Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor, by Paul Farmer, University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-24326-9, pg 1
  12. ^ "Stig Dagermanpriset till Eduardo Galeano". (in Swedish). 12 September 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2012. 
  13. ^ "I år går Stig Dagermanpriset till författaren Eduardo Galeano". (in Swedish). 18 August 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2012. 

External links[edit]