Eduardo Galeano

Eduardo Galeano

Eduardo Galeano in 2012
Born Eduardo Germán María Hughes Galeano
(1940-09-03)3 September 1940
Montevideo, Uruguay
Died 13 April 2015(2015-04-13) (aged 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 (Spanish pronunciation: [eˈðwarðo ɣaleˈano]; 3 September 1940 – 13 April 2015) was an Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist considered, among other things, "global soccer's pre-eminent man of letters" and "a literary giant of the Latin American left".[1]

Galeano's best-known works are Las venas abiertas de América Latina (Open Veins of Latin America, 1971) and Memoria del fuego (Memory of Fire Trilogy, 19826). "I'm a writer," the author once said of himself, "obsessed with remembering, with remembering the past of America and above all that of Latin America, intimate land condemned to amnesia."[2]

Author Isabelle Allende, who said her copy of Galeano's book was one of the few items with which she fled Chile in 1973 after the military coup of Augusto Pinochet, called Open Veins of Latin America, "a mixture of meticulous detail, political conviction, poetic flair, and good storytelling."[3]


Eduardo Germán María Hughes Galeano was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, on[4] Sept. 3, 1940.[5] His two family names were inherited from Welsh and Genoese great-grandfathers; the other two were from Germany and Spain.[6] Galeano wrote under his maternal family name; as young man, he briefly wrote for an Uruguayan socialist publication, El Sol, signing articles as "Gius," "a pseudonym approximating the pronunciation in Spanish of his paternal surname Hughes."[7] Galeano's family belonged to the fallen Uruguayan aristocracy; Galeano himself went to work at fourteen, having completed just two years of secondary school.[6]

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.[8]

In 1973, a military coup took power in Uruguay; Galeano was imprisoned and later was forced to flee, going into exile in Argentina where he founded the magazine Crisis.[9] 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.[10] 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 list 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), described as "the most powerful literary indictment of colonialism in the Americas."[11]

Galeano in 1984

At the beginning of 1985 Galeano returned to Montevideo when democratization occurred. 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.[12] 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.[13]

On 10 February 2007, Galeano underwent a successful operation to treat lung cancer.[14] 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".[15] 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 Chávez 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.[16]

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.[17]

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."[18]

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." [19]


"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"[20]
Year Spanish title Spanish ISBN Spanish Publisher English translation
1963Los días siguientesAlfa The following days
1967Guatemala, país ocupado Guatemala: Occupied country (1969)
1967Los fantasmas del día del león y otros relatos
1968Su majestad el fútbol
1971Las venas abiertas de América LatinaISBN 950-895-094-3Siglo XXI Open Veins of Latin America (1973) ISBN 0-85345-279-2 [21]
1971Siete imágenes de Bolivia
1971Violencia y enajenación
1972Crónicas latinoamericanas
1973VagamundoISBN 84-7222-307-8
1980La canción de nosotrosISBN 84-350-0124-5
1977Conversaciones con Raimón ISBN 84-7432-034-8
1978Días y noches de amor y de guerraISBN 84-7222-891-6Del Chanchito Days and Nights of Love and War ISBN 0-85345-620-8
1980La piedra arde
1981Voces de nuestro tiempo ISBN 84-8360-237-7
1982–1986Memoria del fuego ISBN 9974620058Del Chanchito Eduardo Galeano (29 April 2014). Genesis. Open Road Media. ISBN 978-1-4804-8138-1. 
1984Aventuras de los jóvenes diosesISBN 9682320941Siglo XXI
1985Ventana sobre Sandino
1986La encrucijada de la biodiversidad colombiana
1986 El descubrimiento de América que todavía no fue y otros escritosISBN 8476681054Editorial Laia
1988–2002 El tigre azul y otros artículosISBN 9590602118Ciencias Sociales (Cuba)
1962–1987 Entrevistas y artículosEdiciones Del Chanchito
1989El libro de los abrazosISBN 9788432306907Siglo XXI The Book of Embraces ISBN 0-393-02960-3
1989Nosotros decimos noISBN 84-323-0675-4 Siglo XXI
1990América Latina para entenderte mejor
1990Palabras: antología personal
1992Ser como ellos y otros artículosISBN 9788432307614 Siglo XXI
1993Amares ISBN 84-206-3419-0 Alianza, España
1993Las palabras andantes ISBN 9974620082 Del Chanchito
1994Úselo y tíreloISBN 9507428518 Editorial Planeta
1995El fútbol a sol y sombraISBN 9788432311345Siglo XXI Football (soccer) in Sun and Shadow ISBN 1-85984-848-6
1998Patas arriba: Escuela del mundo al revésISBN 9974620147 Macchi Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World 2000, ISBN 0-8050-6375-7
1999Carta al ciudadano 6.000 millones[22] ISBN 84-406-9472-5Ediciones B
2001Tejidos. Antología ISBN 84-8063-500-2 Ediciones Octaedro
2004Bocas del tiempo ISBN 978-950-895-160-1 Catálogos Editora Voices of time: a life in stories ISBN 978-0-8050-7767-4
2006El viaje ISBN 84-96592-55-3
2007Carta al señor futuro
2008Patas arriba/ la escuela del mundo al revés ISBN 950-895-050-1 Catálogos Editora
2008Espejos ISBN 978-987-1492-00-8 Siglo XXI Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone 2009, ISBN 1-56858-423-7
2011Los hijos de los días ISBN 978-987-629-200-9 Siglo XXI Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History ISBN 978-1568587479
2015 Mujeres - antología ISBN 978-84-323-1768-2 Siglo XXI [23]

Las venas abiertas de América Latina (Open Veins of Latin America), a history of the region from the time of Columbus from the perspective of the subjugated people, is considered one of Galeano's best-known works. An English-language translation by Cedric Belfrage gained some popularity in the Anglosphere after Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez gave it as a gift to U.S. President Barack Obama in 2009.[24][25]

Galeano was also an avid fan of football, writing most notably about it in Football in Sun and Shadow (El fútbol a sol y sombra).[5] In a retrospective for SB Nation after Galeano's death, football writer Andi Thomas described the work—a history of the sport, as well as an outlet for the author's own experiences with the sport and his political polemics—as "one of the greatest books about football ever written".[26]


Galeano died on 13 April 2015 in Montevideo[27][28] from lung cancer at the age of 74, survived by third wife Helena Villagra and three children.[29]

Awards and honors

See also


  1. Parker, Graham (13 April 2015). "Eduardo Galeano: The beautiful game loses its man of letters". Archived from the original on 14 April 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  2. "Writer Eduardo Galeano dies". 13 April 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  3. Bernstein, Adam (2015-04-13). "Eduardo Galeano, influential Uruguayan author, dies at 74". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  4. Bernstein, Adam (2015-04-13). "Eduardo Galeano, influential Uruguayan author, dies at 74". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  5. 1 2 "Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano dies at 74". Fox News Latino. 13 April 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  6. 1 2 Martin 1992, p. 148.
  7. Simon Romero, "Eduardo Galenao, Uruguayan Voice of Anti-Capitalism, Is Dead at 74," New York Times, 14 April 2015, A17.
  8. Wilson 1980, p. 31.
  9. Romero, "Eduardo Galeano,"
  10. Fresh Off Worldwide Attention for Joining Obama’s Book Collection, Uruguayan Author Eduardo Galeano Returns with "Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone".
  11. Maybury-Lewis 1991, p. 376.
  12. Eduardo Galeano, "Where the People Voted Against Fear" January 2005 The Progressive
  13. Alfonso Daniels, "'Chavez TV' beams into South America",The Guardian, 26 July 2005.
  14. Eduardo Galeano se recupera de operación El Universal, 11 February 2007 (Spanish)
  15. Interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, 5 November 2008 (video, audio, and print transcript)
  16. The Washington Times
  17. Audio and transcript of interview, May 2009
  18. Sounds and Colours
  19. The Open Veins of Eduardo Galeano, Monthly Review, 11.06.14
  20. 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, p. 1.
  21. Open Veins of Latin America
  22. De autores varios: Maryse Condé; Ariel Dorfman.
  23. "Search - List of Books by Eduardo Galeano". Paperback Swap. 13 April 2015.
  24. "Open Veins of Latin America". Monthly Review Press. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  25. Clark, Andrew (19 April 2009). "Chávez creates overnight bestseller with book gift to Obama". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  26. Thomas, Andi (13 April 2015). "Looking back at Eduardo Galeano's masterpiece, 'Soccer in Sun and Shadow'". SB Nation. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  27. "Writer Eduardo Galeano dies". 13 April 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  28. "Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan Voice of Anti-Capitalism, is Dead at 74." New York Times, Tuesday, 14 April 2015, A17.
  29. Kraul, Chris (13 April 2015). "Eduardo Galeano, Latin American author and U.S. critic, dies at 74". Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  30. "Past Honorees". Global Exchange. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  31. "Stig Dagermanpriset till Eduardo Galeano". (in Swedish). 12 September 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  32. "I år går Stig Dagermanpriset till författaren Eduardo Galeano". (in Swedish). 18 August 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
Martin, Gerald (1992). "Hope Springs Eternal: Eduardo Galeano and the History of Latin America". History Workshop. 34: 148–158. JSTOR 4289188. 
Maybury-Lewis, David (1991). "Book review: Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing by Michael Taussig". Contemporary Sociology. 20 (3): 375–377. JSTOR 2073683. 
Wilson, S. R. (1980). "Eduardo Galeano: Exile and a Silenced Montevideo". Chasqui. 9 (2–3): 30–38. JSTOR 29739618. 
External video
"'Voices of Time': Legendary Uruguayan Writer Eduardo Galeano on Immigration, Latin America, Iraq, Writing – and Soccer," Democracy Now! 19 May 2006.
Uruguayan Author Eduardo Galeano Returns with Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone – video report by Democracy Now!
Eduardo Galeano, Chronicler of Latin America’s "Open Veins," on His New Book "Children of the Days", Democracy Now, 8 May 2013.
"Reflections from Eduardo Galeano," The Leonard Lopate Show, 19 May 2006.
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