On Eduardo Galeano, America’s Pilgrim

Dariela Aquique

Eduardo Galeano. Foto: cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES — Eduardo Germán María Hughes Galeano (Eduardo Galeano), one of Hispano-America’s most renowned intellectuals, took his last breath on Monday April 13, His narrative was one of my favorites to read. I never cease to be amazed by his excellent skills as an essayist and journalist, although I must admit I have not always entirely agreed with some of his viewpoints.

Galeano was one of the greatest narrators of his time. He was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in the fall of 1940. His humble background led him to take on various occupations such as messenger, cartoonist, an insecticide factory worker, collections agent, stenographer, bank teller, graphic designer, editor, and as he himself put it: a pilgrim of America. Maybe it was this last vocation which gave him the substance and reasons he needed to become a journalist committed to the causes of the most neglected.

Therefore, he sometimes remarked:(…) I’m a writer who would like to help rescue the kidnapped memory of America, especially that of Latin America, a despised and endearing land (…). His Las venas abiertas de América Latina (The Open Veins of Latin America) (1971) is already one of the books which defines the Continent’s cultural and historic heritage.


Galeano started his career in journalism at 14, when he sold his first political caricature to the Socialist Party’s weekly paper, ‘El Sol’. He then published many cartoons which he signed “Gius”, due to the pronunciation problems his first surname posed in the Spanish language. Not long afterwards, he began to publish articles. At the beginning of the 1960s, he was the editor of Marcha, an influential weekly journal which had the likes of Mario Vargas Llosa, Mario Benedetti, Manuel Maldonado and Roberto Fernández Retamar as contributors. He also edited the newspaper Época for two years.

During the coup d’état that took place in June 1973, he was imprisoned and forced to leave Uruguay. He settled in Argentina where he founded the cultural magazine Crisis. However in 1976, his name was added to the list of those condemned by Jorge Rafael Videla’s death squad and he fled once again, this time to Spain. It was not until 1985 that he was able to return to Montevideo.

He really stood out among the Left’s intellectuals. In 2005, he joined the Advisory Committee of the Latin American TV channel TeleSur. In February 2007, he recovered from lung cancer surgery.

Today, Montevideo has to say a carnal goodbye to one of its greatest children, however, he has left his masterful work as his everlasting legacy, something which did not dare be confined by the lines of orthodox genres, but rather drank from many different sources such as history, documentary, fiction, political analysis and sociology.

Examples of his titles published in English include works entitled: The Following Days (1963), Days and Nights of Love and War (1978), The Book of Embraces (1989), Football (soccer) in Sun and Shadow (1995), Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World 2000, Voices of time: a life in stories (2004), Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (2009), Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History(2011).

One thought on “On Eduardo Galeano, America’s Pilgrim

  • Nice essay. Thank you.

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