I am a person who enjoys the dichotomy that comes from reading the works of very talented ideological opposites or rivals or stylistic antonyms. I enjoy Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner, Averroes and Al-Ghazali, Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel García Márquez, John Dos Passos and Martin Andersen Nexø or Maxim Gorky. I enjoy all of their works not equally but on the same level. But there is no one like Eduardo Galeano; he has no rival because who could match him.
To know what Eduardo Galeano means you ought to start with his fans; they are legends in their own right. World leaders such as former Chilean President Salvador Allende, former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, former Uruguayan President José Mujica, and current Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez. Artists and intellectuals such as Chilean photographer Orlando Lagos, Chilean-American writer Isabel Allende, Peruvian Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti, Cuban poet Roberto Fernández Retamar, English-Pakistani intellectual Tariq Ali, and Argentine human rights activist and pacifist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. Eduardo Galeano meant a lot to a whole continent and many peoples. Eduardo Galeano articulated, starting in the 1960s, the dynamic, complex, and evolving history of Latin America. He articulated the hopes, dreams, fears, and aspirations of all the peoples of Latin America as they struggled with dictatorship, revolution, repression, bloodshed, violence, civil war, and the long shadow of imperialism.
To me Eduardo Galeano was so eclectic in his work and created such a rich tapestry that I don’t know in which single work I delight more so I delight in the rhythmic totality of his work. He was a maestro of words with essays on football (soccer), journalistic articles on politics and policy, non-fiction about history, novels with innumerable characters and plots that last for centuries. His obsessions were so many and we the readers were left to indulge in the fiery tempos of his latest obsession and his newest style. He was a writer who knew no bounds and only wrote that which was the quintessential truth of his human soul.
I have one thing to say about Eduardo Galeano and it is a reference to an cartoon as eclectic and wild as he was. In an episode of Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends one of the more ferocious imaginary friends, Eduardo who was really very kind and gentle, found out that his rich purple fur coat is infested with fleas. The fleas had made him their new home and he was gentle and loving that he would not be rid himself of the nuisance and pain because how dare he evict another creature. And every time Eduardo protected the fleas from a shampoo or a brush they sang, with a feverish pride, of the compassion of their host. “We love you Eduardo!” was their synchronized cry. And now it is my cry, and that of every single individual ever moved or touched by the writings of a giant of our time. I now leave you with some quotes from Eduardo Galeano’s works and I urge you to read, read all that you can find of his. You will not regret reading the words that inspired generations.
“Richness in the world is a result of other people's poverty. We should begin to shorten the abyss between haves and have-nots.”
“I'm attracted to soccer's capacity for beauty. When well played, the game is a dance with a ball.”
“The purpose of torture is not getting information. It’s spreading fear.”
“Indignation must aways be the answer to indignity.”
“Each day has a story to - deserves to be told, because we are made of stories. I mean, scientists say that human beings are made of atoms, but a little bird told me that we are also made of stories.”
“Utopia lies at the horizon. When I draw nearer by two steps, it retreats two steps. If I proceed ten steps forward, it swiftly slips ten steps ahead. No matter how far I go, I can never reach it. What, then, is the purpose of utopia? It is to cause us to advance.”
“Almost all wars, perhaps all, are trade wars connected with some material interest. They are always disguised as sacred wars, made in the name of God, or civilization or progress. But all of them, or almost all of the wars, have been trade wars.”
“The walls are the publishers of the poor.”
“Each person shines with his or her own light. No two flames are alike. There are big flames and little flames, flames of every color. Some people’s flames are so still they don’t even flicker in the wind, while others have wild flames that fill the air with sparks. Some foolish flames neither burn nor shed light, but others blaze with life so fiercely that you can’t look at them without blinking, and if you approach you shine in the fire.”
Fleas dream of buying themselves a dog, and nobodies dream of escaping poverty: that one magical day good luck will suddenly rain down on them---will rain down in buckets. But good luck doesn't rain down yesterday, today, tomorrow, or ever. Good luck doesn't even fall in a fine drizzle, no matter how hard the nobodies summon it, even if their left hand is tickling, or if they begin the new day with their right foot, or start the new year with a change of brooms. The nobodies: nobody's children, owners of nothing. The nobodies: the no ones, the nobodied, running like rabbits, dying through life, screwed every which way.
Who are not, but could be.
Who don't speak languages, but dialects.
Who don't have religions, but superstitions.
Who don't create art, but handicrafts.
Who don't have culture, but folklore.
Who are not human beings, but human resources.
Who do not have faces, but arms.
Who do not have names, but numbers.
Who do not appear in the history of the world, but in the police
blotter of the local paper.
The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them.”
Open Veins of Latin America