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Uruguayan Author Eduardo Galeano, Critic Of Capitalism, Dies At 74


Now let's talk about a man who stood his ground in letters. Colonialism and capitalism were often the targets of satire by Eduardo Galeano. The legendary Uruguayan author was an eloquent critic of American and European imperialism in Latin America. He died on Monday. NPR's Jasmine Garsd looks back on his life and work.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: Galeano once wrote that he was obsessed with remembering, especially when it came to Latin America, which he described as an endearing land condemned to amnesia. His 1971 book, "Open Veins Of Latin America," is a history of struggles with Europe and the U.S. He painted a violent picture of inequality in the region.

Murder by poverty in Latin America is a secret, he wrote. (Reading) Every year, without making a sound, three Hiroshima bombs explode over communities that have become accustomed to suffering with clenched teeth.

Professor Gabriela Fried Amilivia is an associate professor at Cal State University, Los Angeles. She says sentiments like those are as old as Latin America itself, but Galeano was uniquely poetic.

GABRIELA FRIED AMILIVIA: He created a special voice where he merged social and political science, culture and poetry.

GARSD: "Open Veins" created a stir, such a stir in a Latin America ruled at the time by right-wing dictators that Galeano was forced into exile in Spain until the mid-'80s. Over time, he remained an icon for the left. In 2009, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sardonically gave a copy of the book to President Barack Obama. That same year, Galeano told NPR what he'd want the president to understand from the book.


EDUARDO GALEANO: No richness is innocent. Richness in the world is a result of other people's poverty.

GARSD: Galeano wrote dozens of other works, including a history of Latin America's favorite sport, the acclaimed "Soccer In The Sun And Shadow."

There are towns and villages in Brazil, he wrote, that have no church, but not one lacks a soccer field. (Reading) Sunday is the day of hard labor for cardiologists all over the country. On a normal Sunday, people die of excitement during the mass of the ball. On a Sunday without soccer, people die of boredom.

Eduardo Galeano was 74 when he died yesterday of lung cancer in Montevideo, Uruguay. Jasmine Garsd, NPR News, Washington. [POST-BROADCAST CLARIFICATION: Last year, Eduardo Galeano disavowed his book "Open Veins of Latin America." He said he lacked the training for political and economic analysis when he was wrote "Open Veins" in 1971. He also said the book was poorly written.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jasmine Garsd