“The open veins of Latin America” is a boring undocumented book, admits his author
Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano said in an interview published on the Argentine newspaper Perfil.com that he considers his 1971 book “The Open Veins of Latin America”, by far his best-known work, to be so bad he will no longer read from it during public appearances.
“I wouldn’t be capable of reading the book again,” he said on the 43rd anniversary of its release. His comments took place during the II Bienal in Brazil, an international book fair held in the capital city of Brasilia.
Although he doesn’t regret having written it, Galeano told the site, he believes he did not have the “necessary education” in economics and politics at the time he composed it. “That traditional leftist-style prose is awful,” he said.
The renown of “Open Veins” – a roughly sketched history of the imperialist plundering of Latin America’s resources -- has perhaps been stoked by its illicit air; it was considered samizdat under military dictatorships in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, which banned it. It has since sold well over a million copies worldwide.
It also got a memorable boost in sales when late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez made a gift of it to President Barack Obama at a 2009 summit of American leaders in Trinidad and Tobago. The book jumped from 54,295th place on Amazon’s sales list to number six in less than 24 hours.
Galeano himself considered Chávez a dictator, though a “curious” one, as he maintained in a 2011 interview. “[Chávez] has won eight elections in five years. And now, recently, he submitted to a referendum in which he asked Venezuelans if they wanted the model of government that he was proposing. He’s the only president in the history of humanity to do it. And he won with 60% vote.
The book and Galeano are frequently quoted in songs, films and books, and since the 1997 edition has a prologue from the Chilean author Isabel Allende. Galeano, whose real birth name is Eduardo Hughes Galeano (in Spanish first name is father's and second mother's), and now a comfortable board member of pharmaceutical labs in Uruguay, thus joins a list of Latin American left wing intellectuals who after having influenced with ideology whole generations don't feel comfortable with some of their most emblematic works.