Eduardo Galeano, the Uruguayan author best-known for his 1971 book Open Veins of Latin America, which inspired a generation of scholars, social activists, and revolutionaries, died at age 74 today in Montevideo. He was admitted to hospital on April 10, after being sick with lung cancer for several months.
Galeano started his journalism career at age 14 as a political cartoonist for the socialist weekly, El Sol. He later served as an editor for both weekly and daily newspapers, and was the founding editor of the magazine Crisis, which he established during his exile in Argentina. Galeano also worked as a factory worker, a painter, a typist, and a bank teller, reports El Pais (link in Spanish).
The prolific writer was only 31 when his seminal text was published. Open Veins of Latin America examined Latin America’s history through the lens of colonialism and exploitation. It re-entered the spotlight and climbed bestseller lists in 2009 when Hugo Chávez, then the president of Venezuela, handed a copy to Barack Obama at the Summit of the Americas.
Critics of the left-leaning tome seized upon the moment in May 2014 when the author renounced the book—or at least its heavy-handed, polemical prose (what author hasn’t cringed to reread his own work years later?)—answering questions at a book fair in Brasilia. Galeano applied another lens to Latin America to great effect: His poetic Football in Sun and Shadow is considered one of the greatest books ever written about the sport.
“I feel choked with affection,” he told his audience.