Then Silence – Eduardo Galeano (1940 – 2015)

Submitted by Pachamama
Hugo Chavez gives Barack Obama a copy of Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina (The Open Veins of Latin America) by Eduardo Galeano during a meeting at the Summit of the Americas. Photograph: Ho/Reuters Ho/REUTERS

Hugo Chavez gives Barack Obama a copy of Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina (The Open Veins of Latin America) by Eduardo Galeano during a meeting at the Summit of the Americas. Photo: REUTERS

Where have all the heroes gone?

For Galeano, it was to meet our collective destiny. This great Uruguayan, literary genius, poet, champion for social and economic justice, was one of a kind. The One who comes to a people every 2000 years or so.

If ever a writer disdained commercial success, it was Galeano. For Galeano sought to communicate with the people through silence. A pathway he described as ‘the perfect language’. When he found something better than silence he tried to be economical with words. He worked against inflation. His belief was that we, on the left, make language too complicated. We talk or write too much and do too little. Too little revolutionary action.

His epic, ‘The Open Veins of Latin America’ instantly became a best seller in the New York Times once his revolutionary co-conspirator, former President, Hugo Chavez, publicly presented a copy to President Obama. In this instance we must blame Chavez for having Galeano speak too much. For Chavez was a serial offender as Chomsky’s book, ‘Hegemony of Survival – America’s Quest for Global Dominance’, once Chavez presented it to the United Nations, it too became a NYT best seller. Chavez thought it well represented the nature of the North American empire.

In ‘The Open Veins of Latin America’ Galeano wrote about the history of the pillage of this region. A history which informs today’s politics. He saw the past as being present. ‘Art, as a lie which is capable of telling the truth.’ He connected slavery with freedom, poverty with wealth and justice with injustice in creative ways which thug at the heart and reveal a wide range of emotions, insights.

‘The Open Veins of Latin America’ draws a graphic portrait of the damage oil has done to Venezuela. Connects this destruction to the prostitution in oil drilling areas, as an example of total environmental decay, imperial exploitation. Links the names of sex workers to oil industry infrastructure – ‘the derrick’, ‘the pipeline’, ‘the hoist’, ‘the four valves’. He argues that the wealth from oil extraction surpassed the profits derived from slavery.

Other books by Galeano included, ‘Children of the Days’, ‘Genesis: Memory and Fire’ (three volumes), ‘Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone’ and ‘Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World’. In ‘Children of the Days’, sons and daughters of time, Galeano sought to allowed stories to choice him to tell them. Stories which were better than the best story of all – silence! He tells a story, not a true story, of the 1916 Mexican invasion of the USA – the reverse is true. An instance of the reversal of what the USA has done to the other countries of the hemisphere. A story of Bolivians’ refusal to embrace junk food, leading to the withdrawal of McDonald’s, among others.

Galeano’s life was forged in the crucible of WW2, by the United States sponsored military dictatorships at home, and again in Argentina. By the fear, not the pain, of torture engendered by military dictators. In exile in Barcelona, Galeano created the launching pad to respond to the brutality imposed on us all. His synthesis of the human condition was that we are destroying all possibilities to be the best that we could be. He blames machismo, racism, militarism and other ‘isms’ for despoiling the human potential for beauty. He saw socialism as having possibilities of serving mankind, but failing so to do.

On Monday, April 13, in his hometown of Montevideo, Uruguay, Eduardo Galeano continued his generational battle against inflation. There are no words to describe this silence he has now imposed on us all! Let us also communicate with him in silence!

It is regrettable that too many people in the region could successfully navigate school systems never to have known of his life’s work on behalf of us all.

9 comments

  • @Pacha

    It is regrettable that too many people in the region could successfully navigate school systems never to have known of his life’s work on behalf of us all.

    You don’t cease to amaze.Now if it was Eric Jerome Dickey…

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  • In 2013, speaking to the Guardian about his latest book, Children of the Days, Galeano detailed a world where power and wealth were becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, weaving in examples from the 15th century to the present day. “History never really says goodbye,” he said at the time. “History says, see you later.”

    It was a stance that permeated his writing, he told reporters, describing himself as a “writer obsessed with remembering, with remembering the past of America and above all that of Latin America, intimate land condemned to amnesia”.

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/13/eduardo-galeano-open-veins-of-latin-america-writer-dies

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  • He is right; those on the left talk and write too much and do too little. His works should be mandatory in our schools, and especially in political science classes at the universities. Unfortunately, like history, our leaders are easily forgotten. Hopefully, we do not have to wait another 2000 years for another Eduardo Galeano.

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  • Easy Squeeze (make no riot)

    R.I.P. Percy Sledge
    Born: November 25, 1941, Leighton, Alabama, United States
    Died: April 14, 2015, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States

    Warm.and.Tender.Love

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  • Thanks Pachamama for that bio piece. Very sorry to hear of the passing of Eduardo Galeano. Sorry too that I have not got around to reading The Open Veins of Latin America which I bought 2 years ago. Two great guys have left us from that region in less than one year Gabriel García Márquez being the other. Peace be unto them.

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  • Easy Squeeze (make no riot)

    I Shall Be Released

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  • Pingback: Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano, RIP | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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