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Gabriel Garcia Marquez won the 1982 Nobel Literature Prize and was seen as one of the key figures in the Latin American Boom during the 1960s and 1970s. (Photo: Colombian National Library)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez' novels were translated throughout the world.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Latin America Without Gabo

Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel “Gabo” Garcia Marquez, 1927-2014.


The continent is recently waking up to the tragic realization of the loss of its best historian. As literary and political leaders leave the mourning center stage and reality takes over, we the people of Latin America come to the terrible realization that the region has lost its best chronicler and portraitist. In this century of rapid change when Chile has left the dark domains of oppression to join the development club; Paraguay has dethroned Argentina as South America’s leading beef exporter; Brazil has failed to take off for the third time in its history and Venezuela’s leaders meet in a deaf dialogue, the loss of Gabo leaves the region without an interpreter for the rest of the world to understand the magic tapestry of its reality.

Ever since the first non-Viking Europeans set foot on this region baptized by Columbus as ”the Land of Grace” America has alternatively beguiled and shocked the world with its endless stories of broken promises; unrealized dreams and irrepressible joy of life.

This chain of expectations and deceit never made much sense outside the American boundaries up and until Gabo began to write. It was then that the world began to decipher the region to find a torrent of creativity; a passion for freedom and a staunch belief in the regenerative properties of love that makes it so particular and unforgettable.

None of these elements were fully understood before Gabo began to record the chronicles of a region still in search for a place in the world where its contribution are valued and its misgivings cured. That Spanish-speaking, Mestizo, music loving, freedom-elusive  America  will never find a better advocate and promoter than the boy of Aracataca who, on a Thursday morning, decided to part with his human dimension and  become a legend.  

And one wonders, whether the region will ever be understood in the days to come after losing its voice and the codices to interpret its soul. Because, as he noted in his Nobel Lecture:

And if these difficulties, whose essence we share, hinder us, it is understandable that the rational talents on this side of the world, exalted in the contemplation of their own cultures, should have found themselves without valid means to interpret us. It is only natural that they insist on measuring us with the yardstick that they use for themselves, forgetting that the ravages of life are not the same for all, and that the quest of our own identity is just as arduous and bloody for us as it was for them. The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary.”

Will the road ahead be a transit in solitude? Will the lack of understanding of the rest of a world fascinated with the Sino-American competition; paralyzed by the European economic and moral capsizing and enthrall by the progress made by African nation become yet another hindrance to Latin America’s progress?  

Who will for instance explain to the rest of an incredulous world  that the  current eruption of violence in Venezuela represents creative destruction? Who will unveil the undercurrent of innovation shaking Brazil behind the curtain of samba; football and the rain forest?  When will the world understand that Colombia needs more peace than foreign investment?

Someone will eventually take the fallen baton. But in the meantime life in America will be confusing and solitary. Because the great believer in its transformational potential has left the scene. And with his departure much of our self-confidence evaporated like ice in Aracataca. 

Beatrice Rangel is CEO of AMLA Consulting Group, a business development advisory firm in Miami. She wrote this column for Latinvex.  

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