Eduardo Galeano

Eduardo Hughes Galeano (born September 3, 1940) is an Uruguayan journalist,writer and one of the most outstanding representatives of Ibero-American literature. His books have been translated into many languages. His works transcend orthodox genres, combining documentary, fiction, journalism, political analysis, and history. The author himself has denied that he is a historian: "I'm a writer obsessed with remembering, with remembering the past of America above all and above all that of Latin America, intimate land condemned to amnesia."


Galeano was born in Montevideo to a middle class Catholic family of European descent.

As many Latin American young boys, Galeano dreamed of becoming a football (soccer) player; this was reflected in some of his works such as El fútbol a sol y sombra (Football In Sun and Shadow). In his teens Galeano worked in odd jobs — as a factory worker, a bill collector, a sign painter, a messenger, a typist, and a bank teller. At 14 years old Galeano sold his first political cartoon to the Socialist Party weekly El Sol.

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 1973, a military coup took power in Uruguay; Galeano was imprisoned and later was forced to flee. He settled in Argentina where he founded the cultural magazine, Crisis.

In 1976, when the Videla regime took power in Argentina in a bloody military coup, his name was added to the lists of those condemned by the death squads, and he fled again; this time to Spain, where he wrote his famous trilogy: Memoria del fuego (Memory of Fire ).

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.

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.

Recently, on January 26, 2006, Galeano joined other internationally renowned figures and Latin American authors such as Nobel-laureate Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Benedetti, Ernesto Sábato, Thiago de Mello, Carlos Monsiváis, Pablo Armando Fernández, Jorge Enrique Adoum, Luis Rafael Sánchez, Mayra Montero, Ana Lydia Vega and world famous singer/composer Pablo Milanés, in demanding sovereignty for Puerto Rico and adding their name and signature to the Latin American and Caribbean Congress' Proclamation for the Independence of Puerto Rico, which approved a resolution favoring the island-nation's right to assert its independence, as ratified unanimously by political parties hailing from twenty two Latin American countries in November 2006. Galeano's demand for the recognition of Puerto Rico's independence was obtained at the behest of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP).

On February 10, 2007, Galeano underwent a successful operation to treat lung cancer.


Las venas abiertas de América Latina (The 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 what he views as 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 the left of Latin America.

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 was 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, 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 football fan; Football in Sun and Shadow (1995) is 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 is a regular contributor to The Progressive and the New Internationalist, and has also been published in the Monthly Review and The Nation.

In popular culture

  • Puerto Rican Nueva Trova musician Roy Brown adapted Galeano's "Los Ausentes" to music in the 2006 release [Que Vaya Bien] with Tito Auger and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger.
  • Venezuelan punk band "Los Dolares" released an album in 2003 which is a musical interpretation of Galeano's book "The Open Veins of Latin America".
  • Argentinian rock/ska band "Los Fabulosos Cadillacs" released an album entitled "Rey Azúcar", which is the title of one of the chapters in "The Open Veins of Latin America". The album also has a song called "The Open Veins of Latin America".
  • Brazilian rock band "Sub-versão" recorded a song named "Veias Abertas" (which stands for "Open Veins" in Portuguese) which refers to "The Open Veins of Latin America".
  • The Mekons song " Funeral" uses lines from his essay "Funeral for the Wrong Corpse" in "We Say No".

Memorable quote

Galeano is widely known for his memorable quote, regarding the civilian-military administration of 1973-1985: 'People were in prison so that prices could be free'


  • Los días siguientes (1963)
  • China (1964)
  • Guatemala (1967 - Guatemala: Occupied Country)
  • Reportajes (1967)
  • Los fantasmas del día del léon y otros relatos (1967)
  • Su majestad el fútbol (1968)
  • La crisis económica (1969)
  • Las venas abiertas de América Latina (1971) Open Veins of Latin America ISBN 0853452792 ; ISBN 0853459908
  • Siete imágenes de Bolivia (1971)
  • Violencía y enajenación (1971)
  • Crónicas latinoamericanas (1972)
  • Vagamundo (1973) ISBN 8472223078
  • La cancion de nosotros (1975) ISBN 8435001245
  • Conversaciones con Raimón (1977) ISBN 8474320348
  • Días y noches de amor y de guerra (1978) ISBN 8472228916 Days and Nights of Love and War ISBN 0853456208
  • La piedra arde (1980)
  • Voces de nuestro tiempo (1981) ISBN 8483602377
  • Memoria del fuego (1982–1986) ISBN 8432304395 Memory of Fire ISBN 0394548051 (v. 1)
  • Guatemala: un pueblo en lucha (1983) ISBN 848578118X
  • Aventuras de los jóvenes dioses (1984)
  • Ventana sobre Sandino (1985)
  • Contraseña (1985) ISBN 9509413062
  • El descubrimiento de América que todavía no fue y otros escritos (1986) ISBN 8476681054
  • El tigre azul y otros artículos (1988)
  • Entrevistas y artículos (1962–1987) (1988)
  • El libro de los abrazos (1989) ISBN 8432306703 The Book of Embraces ISBN 0393029603
  • Nosotros decimos no (1989) ISBN 8432306754 We Say No ISBN 0393308987
  • América Latina para entenderte mejor (1990)
  • Palabras: antología personal (1990)
  • An Uncertain Grace with Fred Ritchin, photographs by Sebastiao Salgado (1990) ISBN 0893814210
  • Ser como ellos y otros artículos (1992) ISBN 8432307610
  • Amares (1993)
  • Las palabas andantes (1993) ISBN 8432308145 Walking Words ISBN 0393037827
  • Úselo y tírelo (1994) ISBN 950742542X
  • El fútbol a sol y sombra (1995) ISBN 843230879X Football (soccer) in Sun and Shadow ISBN 1859848486
  • Mujeres (1996) ISBN 9686719512
  • Apuntes para el fin de siglo: antología (1997) ISBN 9508600551
  • 100 relatos breves: antología (1998?) ISBN 9508600667
  • Patas arriba: la escuela del mundo al revés (1998) 8432309745 Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World (2000) ISBN 0805063757
  • I Am Rich Potosi: The Mountain That Eats Men photographs by Stephen Ferry (1999)
  • Tejidos: antología (2001) ISBN 8480635002
  • Bocas del Tiempo (2004) ISBN 9974620163 Voices of time: a life in stories ISBN 9780805077674

See also


External links

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