Miguel Otero Silva
|Miguel Otero Silva|
October 26, 1908|
|Died||August 28, 1985
|Occupation||journalist, novelist, poet, politician|
|Notable works||Casas Muertas (1955)|
Miguel Otero Silva (October 26, 1908 - August 28, 1985), was a Venezuelan writer, journalist, humorist and politician. Remaining a figure of great reference in Venezuelan literature, his literary and journalistic works were strictly related to the social and political history of Venezuela. Before the establishment of democracy in 1958, he was repeatedly forced into exile; afterwards, he was elected to the Venezuelan Senate.
Born in Barcelona, Anzoátegui State, moved to Caracas at very young age, to study in the Liceo Caracas. He applied to the Universidad Central de Venezuela for studies in civil engineering. During this time, takes place his early literary activity, writing for magazines and newspapers, such as Élite and Fantoches, and other university publications, besides entering journalism.
During the Student’s Week of the year 1928, Otero Silva formed part of a series of protests against the rule of then-president Juan Vicente Gómez (see Generation of 1928); in addition to this, he also became involved in a military plot to overthrow the government. Due to this, Otero Silva was forced to get into exile, in Curaçao. There, along with Gustavo Machado, Rafael Urbina López and other Venezuelan expatriates in June 1929 taking of Fort Amsterdam in Willemstad, in another attempt to overthrow president Gómez. This movement involved the kidnapping of the governor Leonardus Albert Fruytier by 250 men with the support of communists  as José Tomás Jiménez, and Guillermo Prince Lara. They plundered weapons, ammunition and the treasury of the island and hauled the governor Fruytier off to Venezuelan coasts on the stolen American ship Maracaibo. The revolutionaries landing at La Vela de Coro but were defeated by Gómez forces, and the raid ended in failure. After this failed raid Otero Silva went into exile in Colombia with Machado, Urbina and others revolutionaries. During this time, Otero Silva worked on his first novel, Fiebre (Fever), later published in 1939. By 1930 he had become affiliated to the Comintern, having plenty of interest for Marxist thinking.
1935 - 1958
He was able to return to Venezuela following the death of the dictator Juan Vicente Gómez in 1935. Taking advantage of the freedom of speech allowed by Gómez's successor in office, Eleazar López Contreras, Otero Silva began writing humorous poetry in newspapers, with a certain political content. Tagged soon as a communist, the government expelled him once again from the country in 1937. In these years, he went on traveling through Mexico, United States and Colombia.
Otero was permitted to return after three years of exile. Then, in 1941, he co-founded the humoristic weekly newspaper El Morrocoy Azul (The Blue Tortoise), along with Francisco José Delgado and Claudio Cedeño, besides a leftist weekly, ¡Aquí Está! (Here It Is!).
With the 1943 founding of the newspaper El Nacional by Henrique Otero Vizcarrondo (his father), Otero Silva is appointed as the head of writing, coinciding with his decision for applying at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, to study journalism. In 1946, he married María Teresa Castillo, a fellow journalist, and graduated from university in 1949. Two years later, Otero left the Communist Party of Venezuela, claiming that he wasn't ready for political discipline, and to dedicate himself to writing. He spent a year in Guárico, investigating the history of the village of Ortiz, since its growth to its abandonment due to a malaria breakout. The city served as inspiration for his next novel, Casas Muertas, which was published in 1955. The novel was awarded with the Premio Nacional de Literatura, and the Premio de Novela Arístides Rojas that same year.
His newspaper, El Nacional, was suspended twice during the military rule of Marcos Pérez Jiménez. Towards the end of the dictatorship, he was arrested for editing and publishing the Manifiesto de los Intelectuales (Intellectuals Manifesto), a text attacking the Pérez Jiménez administration.
1958 - 1985
After Marcos Pérez Jiménez was overthrown in 1958, Otero was awarded with the National Prize of Journalism, and also elected to the Venezuelan Senate, representing Aragua. However, the newspaper was again the object of much pressure by the new government of Rómulo Betancourt, for the leftist ideas of Otero and its suspected support of communism. The discontent of the government was the cause for Otero to resign from the newspaper's body of writing.
His works from the period include Oficina N° 1, in 1961, and La Muerte de Honorio in 1963, along with Las Celestiales in 1965, a book of couplets with humouristic references to politics, ideologies, and religion, which he signed as "Iñaki de Errandonea", a fictional jesuit priest invented by Otero himself.
In 1967, he was made a full member of the Academia Venezolana de la Lengua. As a senator, he promoted the creation of the Instituto Nacional de Cultura y Bellas Artes (INCIBA) in the 1970s, and participated in the founding of the Galería de Arte Nacional. In 1979, Otero was awarded with the Lenin Peace Prize.
In 1985, shortly after publishing La Piedra que era Cristo, Otero died in Caracas on August 28.
- Premio Nacional de Literatura (1955, for the novel Casas Muertas)
- National Prize of Journalism
- Member of the Academia Venezolana de la Lengua (1967)
- Lenin Peace Prize (1979)
- Fiebre (Fever, 1939)
- Casas Muertas (Dead Houses, 1955)
- Oficina N° 1 (Office N° 1, 1961)
- La Muerte de Honorio (The Death of Honorio, 1963)
- Cuando quiero llorar no lloro (When I want to cry, I don't, 1970)
- Lope de Aguirre, Príncipe de la Libertad (Lope de Aguirre, Prince of Freedom, 1979)
- La Piedra que era Cristo (The Stone that was Christ, 1985)
- Agua y Cauce (Water and Ditch, 1937)
- 25 poemas (25 poems, 1942)
- Elegía coral a Andrés Eloy Blanco (Coral Elegy to Andrés Eloy Blanco, 1958)
- La Mar que es el Morir (1965)
- Las Celestiales (The Celestials, 1965)
- Umbral (1966)
- In the first five novels by Otero, the number of words comprising the title are the same as the number of order in which they are published. Fiebre, the first novel by Otero, has only one word; the second, Casas Muertas, has two; and so until Cuando quiero llorar, no lloro, the fifth novel with a five-word title. After this, the pattern is not followed anymore. This may seem as an intentional detail by Otero.
- In 2006 Argenis Martínez made a biographical book about the life of Miguel Otero Silva, for the Biblioteca Biográfica Venezolana, with the seal of El Nacional.
- (in Spanish) venezuelatuya.com, Rafael Simón Urbina
- "Overval op fort Amsterdam in Willemstad op Curaçao door de Venezolaanse revolutionair Urbina (8 juni 1929)" (in Dutch). Ministry of Defense. Archived from the original on 28 March 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
- Roche Rodríguez, Michelle (2012-06-22). "María Teresa Castillo: 103 años dedicados al progreso de Venezuela". El Nacional (Caracas). Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- Dedicated to his son, Miguel Henrique Otero. Cuando quiero llorar, no lloro, p7.