“In 1492, the natives discovered they were indians, discovered they lived in America, discovered they were naked, discovered that the Sin existed, discovered they owed allegiance to a King and Kingdom from another world and a God from another sky, and that this God had invented the guilty and the dress, and had sent to be burnt alive who worships the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, and the Rain that wets it.”
Eduardo Galeano and his book “The Open Veins of Latin America” have been with me by every step on my journey through South America. It is one of the two books I held in my backpack. The other one was “The Motorcycle Diaries: A Journey Around South America” by Ernesto “Che” Guevara. They were also present in about 90% of the political conversations I had over there. While el “Che” is still overly popular around the world, Galeano is pretty much unknown to the larger public this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe a little less in the US, since Hugo Chávez offered his book as a present to Barack Obama. “The Open Veins of Latin America” is a bible to half a continent and has helped me to understand the reality of the people I was meeting as well as the history of the countries I was crossing. And it still has an influence on how I perceive things and how I try to make a difference today.
I would advise anyone who is interested in understanding that part of the world and the devastating effects that the “conquista” still has today to read it. I would also suggest to pay a visit to Uruguay, Galeano’s home country. It is not as well known as other countries on the continent. And it’s probably not the most impressive one by the nature of its landscapes. But it is by the kindness and openness of its people.
Que descanses en paz.