Open Veins of Latin America

Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
Author Eduardo Galeano
Original title Las venas abiertas de América Latina
Translator Cedric Belfrage
Country Uruguay
Language Spanish
Subject History of Latin America
Publisher Monthly Review Press
Publication date
Published in English
1973 (1st edition)
1997 (25th Anv. edition)
Media type Print
Pages xiii, 317 p.
ISBN 978-0-85345-990-3
OCLC 37820142
330.98 21
LC Class HC125 .G25313 1997

Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent (in Spanish: Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina) is a book written by Uruguayan journalist, writer and poet Eduardo Galeano, published in 1971. It has sold over a million copies and been translated into over a dozen languages, and has been included in university courses "ranging from history and anthropology to economics and geography."[1]


In the book Galeano analyzes the history of Latin America as a whole, from the time period of the European settlement of the New World to contemporary Latin America, describing the effects of European and later United States economic exploitation and political dominance over the region.

The Library Journal review stated, "Well written and passionately stated, this is an intellectually honest and valuable study."[2]


Galeano wrote Open Veins of Latin America in Uruguay while working as an independent journalist and editor and while employed in the publishing department of the University of the Republic. He said, "It took four years of researching and collecting the information I needed, and some 90 nights to write the book".[3] Shortly after the publication of Open Veins, in 1973, a military junta took power in Uruguay, forcing Galeano into exile; for its left-wing perspective the book was banned under the right-wing military governments of Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay.[4]

Cultural and political significance

In the foreword to the 1997 edition, Isabel Allende stated that "after the military coup of 1973 I could not take much with me: some clothes, family pictures, a small bag of dirt from my garden, and two books: an old edition of the Odes by Pablo Neruda and the book with the yellow cover, Las venas abiertas de América Latina".[5]

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez gave United States President Barack Obama a Spanish copy of Open Veins of Latin America as a gift at the 5th Summit of the Americas in 2009.[6][7][8][9] As a result of this international exposure, the book's sales are reported to have risen sharplyit was the 54,295th most popular book on on one day, but it moved to #2 on the list a day later.[10][11]

In 2014, at an event in Brazil honoring him on the 43rd anniversary of the book's publication, Galeano said he no longer felt so connected to it. He said he was not sorry he had written it, but he had lacked the necessary development to write a book on political economy at that stage and criticized the book's prose as "extremely boring".[12] He said, "I wouldn’t be capable of reading this book again; I’d keel over. For me, this prose of the traditional left is extremely leaden, and my physique can’t tolerate it.” Surprised scholars sought to interpret his renunciation of the book, “because it still captures the essence of the emotional memory of being colonized.” Galeano's US publisher said, “Please! The book is an entity independent of the writer and anything he might think now.”[1]


  1. 1 2 Rohter, Larry (May 23, 2014). "Author Changes His Mind on '70s Manifesto". New York Times. Retrieved July 13, 2016.
  2. "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent". Retrieved 2010-08-10.
  3. "Writer Without Borders" July 14, 2006 In These Times
  4. "Fresh Off Worldwide Attention for Joining Obama's Book Collection, Uruguayan Author Eduardo Galeano Returns with "Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone"". Retrieved 2010-08-10.
  5. Allende, Isabel. Foreword. Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent by Galeano, Eduardo (1997) [First published 1971]. Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent (PDF) (25th anniversary ed.). Monthly Review Press. p. 11. ISBN 0-85345-990-8.
  6. "Obama fields press, gifts in first 100 days". Washington Times. 2009-04-28. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
  7. "Chavez presents Obama with a gift". BBC News. 2009-04-18. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
  8. "Chavez, Clinton discuss possible normalization of diplomatic relations". Xinhua. 2009-04-18. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
  9. WHITE HOUSE NOTEBOOK: Obama may not read book gift, Associated Press, 2009
  10. "Sales Soar of Book Chavez Gave Obama". ABC News. 2009-04-18. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
  11. " Bestsellers: The most popular items in Book". 2009-04-19. Archived from the original on April 20, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  12. "Galeano: "Eu não seria capaz de ler de novo 'As Veias Abertas…', cairia desmaiado" CartaCapital". CartaCapital. 2014-04-14. Retrieved 2014-05-25.
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