When Gabriel García Márquez died in Mexico City in 2014, grief-stricken Colombians painted tribute murals of the beloved novelist on the streets. With the release of a new set of banknotes last month, Colombians now have a daily reminder of their Gabo (as García Márquez is affectionally called) in their wallets.
The portrait of García Márquez, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1982, appears twice on the obverse of the newly-released 50,000 COP banknote. The full-length image surrounded by a kaleidoscope of butterflies is a reference to a leitmotif in his 1967 opus, One Hundred Years of Solitude.
The 50,000 note ($17 USD) is the second-highest denomination issued by the Colombian central bank and has 50 anti-counterfeiting design elements, central bank governor José Darío Uribe said in an Aug. 19 speech.
Among the security features is a quotation from García Márquez’s Nobel prize acceptance speech, printed in microtext. The gist of the passage in Spanish heralds “a new and sweeping utopia of life,” explained Uribe. “This message today, if anything, is more urgent than when uttered for the first time Stockholm in 1982.”
García Márquez joins a group of illustrious authors memorialized in banknotes around the world. Among them are Hans Christian Andersen on the 10 Danish kroner (1952–1975); James Joyce on the Irish £10 (1993–1999), Charles Dickens on the UK £10 (1992–2003) and Japanese writer Ichiyō Higuchi on the ¥5,000 bill in circulation today.