Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Eduardo Galeano: Dangerous Memory

"There is no frontier between past and present when you can revisit the past and make it alive again..."
Memory can be a dangerous thing, especially when it's kept alive by incendiary writers like Eduardo Galeano.

By simply retelling events without ostentation or adornment, Galeano illuminates the injustices that still ravage the present. As he has said, "Reality is a great poet...roses don't need perfume." It was his classic book, Open Veins Of Latin America, that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez presented to President Obama last April at the Summit of the Americas in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.

Galeano shifts perspective from the usurpers to the usurped and succeeds in presenting history as a moral imperative with human rights at its core. It's a searing intro into the exploitation South America's indigenous and later populations suffered at the hands of European/Yankee gringos. As a Canadian I can relate when Galeano says, "We are America also...the name 'America' has been kidnapped by the United States."

Yuko and I are flying to Peru this week and then traveling on to Chile and Bolivia. I've packed my Neruda and Vallejo, downloaded Victor Jara's songs to my iPod and have reread the accounts of Túpac Amaru's Inca uprising near Cusco, Peru and Che Guevara's last stand in Bolivia. Galeano provides the context, if not the rationale, for all these and the other revolutionary struggles that have originated in America del Sur.

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