[Marxism] A leftist's bible
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Apr 21 08:14:14 MDT 2009
Hugo Chavez's gift to Obama is a Latin leftist's bible
'Open Veins of Latin America' by Eduardo Galeano traces the continent's
problems to Western imperialism and exploitation of its resources.
Overnight, the book is the No. 2 bestseller on Amazon.
By Tracy Wilkinson
April 21, 2009
Reporting from Mexico City — The book that Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez gave his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, has long been regarded
as a bible for the Latin American left, found on the bookshelves and
university reading lists of a generation of students in the region.
"Open Veins of Latin America" recounts, as its subtitle says, "Five
Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent" -- the harvesting of the
region's cotton, rubber, coffee, fruit and other resources by U.S. and
European powers. It argues, from a Marxist viewpoint, that such
exploitation is the root cause of Latin American poverty.
When the book was published in 1971, Publishers Weekly called its
author, Eduardo Galeano, "both impassioned and a hard-nosed scholar."
Galeano was a hero to the left, and was ridiculed by the right and for
years persecuted by military dictatorships.
Galeano fled his native Uruguay after a military coup in 1973 and ended
up in Argentina. A few years later, he fled military rule there. "Open
Veins" and other works were banned in many parts of South America, until
the continent began to return to civilian elected governments in the 1980s.
A decade ago, "Open Veins" was attacked by a conservative literary
movement and featured in an irreverent publication, "Manual of the
Perfect Latin American Idiot." Most of Galeano's work was translated
into English by a British-born Socialist, Cedric Belfrage, who was
deported in the 1950s, during the McCarthy era.
Galeano, who is a journalist, historian and essayist, has said his work
cannot be pigeon-holed in a single category because of his mix of poetic
imagery with hard political treatise.
A classic in Latin America, the book had become somewhat obscure in the
mainstream U.S. until Chavez's gift-giving. A paperback version of "Open
Veins" jumped from position 54,295 on the online retailer Amazon.com to
the No. 2 slot, practically overnight, news agencies said.
Galeano, 68, remained pointed in his criticisms during a book tour in
Mexico City this month.
"The contemporary world is not democratic, but profoundly fascist,
chauvinistic, militaristic," he was quoted telling an audience of
several thousand university students who waited in line for hours to see
He went on to say, however, that he was pleased to see that an "almost
black" candidate, referring to Obama, had been elected president of the
United States and hoped that that might help end racism.
wilkinson at latimes.com
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