MEXICO CITY – Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano said that Latin American countries must invent their future and discover their own path to development, rather than transplanting models used in other parts of the world.
During Wednesday’s presentation of his most recent book, “Espejos” (Mirrors), at this capital’s Palace of Fine Arts, Galeano told the audience that policymakers must assess the strengths and weaknesses of external models with an awareness that “there are examples that can be followed but not models to be transplanted.”
The author of the “The Open Veins of Latin America” jokingly dedicated the book’s presentation to the “first Zapatista in Iraq, that is to say the journalist who hurled his shoe at (George W.) Bush, the president who destroyed with his bombs the first vestiges of western civilization, the tablets of Sumerian culture.”
Galeano was making a play on words referring both to Mexico’s Zapatista National Liberation Army, which launched a short-lived rebellion in the mid-1990s, and “zapato,” the Spanish word for shoe.
Galeano, who was received with a standing ovation by the audience, said he is very pleased that a black – “or almost black” president has been elected in the United States and hopes it ends the racism that has persisted for centuries, “even though the imperialist language remains.”
Speaking of U.S. relations with Latin America, he paraphrased an African author in saying the best support the United States can provide Latin America is to “get off of our backs.”
The 69-year-old Uruguayan writer said the reason young people are indifferent about democracy is because reality (is not acknowledged) and politicians have disillusioned young people and made democracy into an empty ceremony (that revolves around) voting every four years. It’s “a Mass without the gods.”
“The contemporary world is not democratic, but profoundly fascist, chauvinistic, militaristic” and so it is no wonder that young people reject it.
Regarding the drug war in Mexico and other countries, the writer said that Afghanistan produces 90 percent of the heroin produced worldwide but is being occupied by U.S. troops, which begs the question of whether the intention to crack down on illegal drugs is genuine.
He said the underlying causes of the addiction problem in the United States, the largest consumer of illegal drugs, also must be studied.
During the presentation of the book, the director of the National Institute of Fine Arts, Maria Teresa Franco, said Galeano has worked as a journalist since the 1960s.
She added that the writer contributed to a number of publications in Uruguay before being forced into exile in Argentina after a 1973 military coup in his homeland.
In 1976, he was forced into exile yet again after a military junta seized power in Argentina and took refuge in Spain, where he wrote another of his most notable works, the “Memories of Fire” trilogy. EFE