Eduardo Galeano

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The dominant culture of the world teaches us that The Other is a threat, that our fellow human beings are a danger. We will all continue to be exiles in one form or another as long as we continue to accept the paradigm that the world is a racetrack or a battlefield.

Eduardo Hughes Galeano (September 3, 1940 - April 13, 2015 ) was an Uruguayan journalist, best known for his works Memoria del fuego (Memory of Fire Trilogy, 1986) and Las venas abiertas de América Latina (Open Veins of Latin America, 1971) which have been translated into twenty languages and transcend orthodox genres: combining fiction, journalism, political analysis, and history.


  • As the owners of heaven forbade chocolate to mortals, so the owners of earth forbade it to commoners.
    • As quoted in Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (2009), p. 7
  • The results of civilization were surprising: our lives became more secure but less free, and we worked a lot harder.”.
    • As quoted in Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (2009), p. 17
  • “He discovered or described hundreds of afflictions and cures, and by testing remedies he concluded “Laughter is the best medicine””
    • As quoted in Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (2009), p. 64
  • We live in a world where the funeral matters more than the dead, the wedding more than love and the physical rather than the intellect. We live in the container culture, which despises the content.
  • Scientists say that human beings are made of atoms, but a little bird told me that we are also made of stories. [1]
  • The wages Haiti requires by law belong in the department of science fiction: actual wages on coffee plantations vary from $.07 to $.15 a day
    • Galeano (1973) Vagamundo , p. 112
  • The division of labor among nations is that some specialize in winning and others in losing.
    • Eduardo Galeano (1973), as cited in: Riley E. Dunlap (2002), Sociological Theory and the Environment, 183
  • The big bankers of the world, who practise the terrorism of money, are more powerful than kings and field marshals, even more than the Pope of Rome himself. They never dirty their hands. They kill no-one: they limit themselves to applauding the show.
    Their officials, international technocrats, rule our countries: they are neither presidents nor ministers, they have not been elected, but they decide the level of salaries and public expenditure, investments and divestments, prices, taxes, interest rates, subsidies, when the sun rises and how frequently it rains.
    However, they don't concern themselves with the prisons or torture chambers or concentration camps or extermination centers, although these house the inevitable consequences of their acts.
    The technocrats claim the privilege of irresponsibility: 'We're neutral' they say.
    • Galeano (1991) Professional Life/3 p. 108; As cited in: Paul Farmer (2005) Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor.. p. 10
  • I don't believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is so vertical. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other person. I have a lot to learn from other people.
    • Galeano, in: David Barsamian (2004) Louder Than Bombs: Interviews from The Progressive Magazine. p. 146
  • The dominant culture of the world teaches us that The Other is a threat, that our fellow human beings are a danger. We will all continue to be exiles in one form or another as long as we continue to accept the paradigm that the world is a racetrack or a battlefield.
  • Open Veins’ tried to be a book of political economy, but I didn’t yet have the necessary training or preparation
    • Attributed in article (2014). Later in article: "Precisely why Mr. Galeano chose to renounce his book now is unclear. Through his American agent, Susan Bergholz, he declined to elaborate. She said he had gradually grown “horrified by the prose and the phraseology” of “Open Veins.” "

The Book of Embraces (1991)


Translated by Cedric Belfrage

  • 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 on 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 crime reports of the local paper.
The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them.
  • The Nobodies; Cied in Mother Jones Magazine (1991) The Book of Embraces. March-April 1991. p. 71
  • somos todos mortales hasta el primer beso y el segundo vaso
    • We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine.

Quotes about Eduardo Galeano

  • This book is a monument in our Latin American history.
    • Hugo Chávez blurb for Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
  • Caroline S. Conzelman, a cultural anthropologist who teaches at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said her first thought was that she wouldn’t change how she used the book, “because it still captures the essence of the emotional memory of being colonized.” But now, she said: “I will have them read what he says about it. It’s good for students to see that writers can think critically about their own work and go back and revise what they meant.”
  • Eduardo Galeano's Genesis, he recounts a series of anecdotes which are really the roots of the Spanish American experience. It is a very poetic work because he has gathered the most moving moments of the chronicles. It is only now that we are beginning to understand many things about the conquest of America, and this book is a part of that process of reevaluation.
    • Rosario Ferré Interviews with Latin American Writers by Gazarian Gautier (1988)
  • I love Galeano’s books. I mean, his book Open Veins of Latin America was an absolute eye-opener for many people, and Days and Nights of Love and War.
  • In his 1976 essay "Defensa de la palabra" Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano wrote, "What process of change can move a people that does not know who it is, nor where it came from? If it doesn't know who it is, how can it know what it deserves to be?" The role of a socially committed historian is to use history, not so much to document the past as to restore to the dehistoricized a sense of identity and possibility. Such "medicinal" histories seek to reestablish the connections between people and their histories, to reveal the mechanisms of power, the steps by which their current condition of oppression was achieved, through a series of decisions made by real people to dispossess them, but also to reveal the multiplicity, creativity, and persistence of their own resistance.
  • I've gone back many times to Eduardo Galeano's essay Defense of the Word,"...Galeano's "defense" was written after his magazine, Crisis, was closed down by the Argentine government. As a writer in exile, he has continued to interrogate the place of the written word, of literature, in a political order that forbids literacy and creative expression to so many; that denies the value of literature as a vehicle for social change even as it fears its power. Like Nadine Gordimer in South Africa, he knows that censorship can assume many faces, from the shutting down of magazines and the banning of books by some writers, to the imprisonment and torture of others, to the structural censorship produced by utterly unequal educational opportunities and by restricted access to the means of distribution-both features of North American society that have become more and more pronounced over the past two decades.
  • Galeano's vision is unswerving, surgical and yet immensely generous and humane.... Eduardo Galeano ought to be a household name...."
    • Arundhati Roy blurb for Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent

Isabel Allende, Forward to Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent (1997)

  • Many years ago, when I was young and still believed that the world could be shaped according to our best intentions and hopes, someone gave me a book with a yellow cover that I devoured in two days with such emotion that I had to read it again a couple more times to absorb all its meaning: Open Veins of Latin America, by Eduardo Galeano…There is one other aspect of Eduardo Galeano that fascinates me. This man who has so much knowledge and who has-by studying the clues and the signs-developed a sense of foretelling, is an optimist. At the end of Century of the Wind, the third volume of Memory of Fire, after 600 pages proving the genocide, the cruelty, the abuse, and exploitation exerted upon the people of Latin America, after a patient recount of everything that has been stolen and continues to be stolen from the continent, he writes: “The tree of life knows that, whatever happens, the warm music spinning around it will never stop. However much death may come, however much blood may flow, the music will dance men and women as long as the air breaths them and the land plows and loves them." This breath of hope is what moves me the most in Galeano's work.
  • Like thousands of refugees all over the continent, I also had to leave my after the military coup of 1973. I could not take much with me: some clothes, family pictures, a small bag with dirt from my garden, and two books: an old edition of the Odes by Pablo Neruda, and the book with the yellow cover, Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina. More than twenty years later I still have that same book with me. That is why I could not miss the opportunity to write this introduction and thank Eduardo Galeano publicly for his stupendous love for freedom, and for his contribution to my awareness as a writer and as a citizen of Latin America. As he said once: "it's worthwhile to die for things without which it's not worthwhile to live."
  • In his Book of Embraces, Eduardo has a story that I love. To me it is a splendid metaphor of writing in general and his writing in particular. "There was an old and solitary man who spent most of his time in bed. There were rumors that he had a treasure hidden in his house. One day some thieves broke in, they searched everywhere and found a chest in the cellar. They went off with it and when they opened it they found that it was filled with letters. They were the love letters the old man had received all over the course of his long life. The thieves were going to burn the letters, but they talked it over and finally decided to return them. One by one. One a week. Since then, every Monday at noon, the old man would be waiting for the postman to appear. As soon as he saw him, the old man would start running and the postman, who knew all about it, held the letter in his hand. And even St. Peter could hear the beating of that heart, crazed with joy at receiving a message from a woman."
Wikipedia has an article about: