Eduardo Hughes Galeano (born September 3, 1940) is a Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist. His most well known works are Memoria del fuego (Memory of Fire, 1986) and Las venas abiertas de América Latina (Open Veins of Latin America, 1971) which have since been translated into twenty languages and transcend orthodox genres: combining fiction, journalism, political analysis, and history. The author himself has denied that he is a historian saying, "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, Uruguay to a middle class Catholic family of European descent. Like many young Latin American boys, Galeano dreamed of becoming a football (soccer) player; this desire 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 odd jobs — as a factory worker, a bill collector, a sign painter, a messenger, a typist, and a bank teller. At 14 years, Galeano sold his first political cartoon to the Socialist Party weekly, El Sol and married for the first time in 1959. 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.
In 1973, a military coup took power in Uruguay; Galeano was imprisoned and later was forced to flee. 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. . He settled in Argentina where he founded the cultural magazine, Crisis. 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 lists 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).
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.
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. 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." At the April 17, 2009, opening session of the 5th Summit of the Americas held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez 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. This made the English language edition of the book go to #2 position and the Spanish version to #11 on the Amazon.com bestseller list.
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.
"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."
Las venas abiertas de América Latina (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 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 scholars of Latin American history. The book gained popularity in the English-speaking world after the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave it as a gift to the American President Barack Obama.
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 is 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's Espejos (Mirrors) is Galeano's most expansive work since Memory of Fire. Galeano offers a broad mosaic of history told through the voices of the unseen, unheard, and forgotten. Recalling the lives of artists, writers, gods and visionaries, Galeano's makes "lore out of the mass of history and stories that make this world, and make us human." (Rick Simonson) Mirrors is set to be published in the US in English by Nation Books in June 2009.
Galeano is a regular contributor to The Progressive and the New Internationalist, and has also been published in the Monthly Review and The Nation.
* 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 0-85345-279-2 ; ISBN 0-85345-990-8
* Siete imágenes de Bolivia (1971)
* Violencía y enajenación (1971)
* Crónicas latinoamericanas (1972)
* Vagamundo (1973) ISBN 84-7222-307-8
* La cancion de nosotros (1975) ISBN 84-350-0124-5
* Conversaciones con Raimón (1977) ISBN 84-7432-034-8
* Días y noches de amor y de guerra (1978) ISBN 84-7222-891-6 Days and Nights of Love and War ISBN 0-85345-620-8
* La piedra arde (1980)
* Voces de nuestro tiempo (1981) ISBN 84-8360-237-7
* Memoria del fuego (1982–1986) ISBN 84-323-0439-5 Memory of Fire ISBN 0-394-54805-1 (v. 1)
* Guatemala: un pueblo en lucha (1983) ISBN 84-85781-18-X
* Aventuras de los jóvenes dioses (1984)
* Ventana sobre Sandino (1985)
* Contraseña (1985) ISBN 950-9413-06-2
* El descubrimiento de América que todavía no fue y otros escritos (1986) ISBN 84-7668-105-4
* El tigre azul y otros artículos (1988)
* Entrevistas y artículos (1962–1987) (1988)
* El libro de los abrazos (1989) ISBN 84-323-0670-3 The Book of Embraces ISBN 0-393-02960-3
* Nosotros decimos no (1989) ISBN 84-323-0675-4 We Say No ISBN 0-393-30898-7
* América Latina para entenderte mejor (1990)
* Palabras: antología personal (1990)
* An Uncertain Grace with Fred Ritchin, photographs by Sebastiao Salgado (1990) ISBN 0-89381-421-0
* Ser como ellos y otros artículos (1992) ISBN 84-323-0761-0
* Amares (1993)
* Las palabas andantes (1993) ISBN 84-323-0814-5 Walking Words ISBN 0-393-03782-7
* Úselo y tírelo (1994) ISBN 950-742-542-X
* El fútbol a sol y sombra (1995) ISBN 84-323-0879-X Football (soccer) in Sun and Shadow ISBN 1-85984-848-6
* Mujeres (1996) ISBN 968-6719-51-2
* Apuntes para el fin de siglo: antología (1997) ISBN 950-860-055-1
* 100 relatos breves: antología (1998?) ISBN 950-860-066-7
* Patas arriba: la escuela del mundo al revés (1998) 8432309745 Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World (2000) ISBN 0-8050-6375-7
* I Am Rich Potosi: The Mountain That Eats Men photographs by Stephen Ferry (1999)
* Tejidos: antología (2001) ISBN 84-8063-500-2
* Bocas del Tiempo (2004) ISBN 9974-620-16-3 Voices of time: a life in stories ISBN 978-0-8050-7767-4
* Espejos: Una historia casi universal (2008) ISBN 978-84-323-1314-1
* Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (2009) ISBN: 1568584237