Eduardo Galeano (1940)
Uruguayan essayist, journalist and historian. Galeano's best-known works include
"Memoria del fuego" (1982-1986, "Memory of Fire") and "Las venas abiertas de
América Latina" (1971, "The Open Veins of Latin America"), which have been
translated into some 20 languages. Galeano defies easy categorization as an
author. His works transcend orthodox genres, and combine documentary, fiction,
journalism, political analysis, and history. The author himself has denied that
he is a historian: "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."
Eduardo Galeano was born in Montevideo into a middle-class Catholic family of
Welsh, German, Spanish and Italian ancestry. He was educated in Uruguay until
the age of 16. "I never learned in school," he once said. "I didn't like it."
At the age of twenty Galeano started his career as a journalist. He was the
editor-in-chief 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 Épocha and worked
as editor-in-chief of the University Press (1965-1973). As a result of the
military coup of 1973, he was imprisoned and then forced to leave Uruguay. By
that time he had published a novel and several books on politics and culture. In
Argentina he founded and edited a cultural magazine, Crisis.
"The Open Veins of Latin America" made Galeano one of the most widely read Latin
American writers. It was also the first book by the author to be translated into
English. In the well-documented series of essays the central theme was the
exploitation of natural resources of Latin America since the arrival of European
powers at the end of the 15th century. The Open Veins of Latin America was
written "in the style of a novel about love or about pirates", as the author
In 1975 Galeano received the prestigious Casa de las Américas prize for his
novel "La cancion de nosotros". After the military coup of 1976 in Argentina his
name was added to the lists of those condemned by the death squads and he moved
to Spain. Galeano lived mainly on the Catalan coast and started to write his
masterpiece, Memory of Fire. In 1978 Galeano received again Casa de las Américas
prize, this time for largely autobiographical work, Días y noches de amor y de
At the beginning of 1985 Galeano returned to Montevideo.
The text of the trilogy consists of short chapters, episodes which portray the
colonial history of the continent. "Each fragment of this huge mosaic is based
on a solid documentary foundation.