Open Veins of Latin America


Open Veins of Latin America:
Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent

Eduardo Galeano, introduction by Isabel Allende
2009, Serpent’s Tail
317 pages

IF EVER there was a title that has changed attitudes towards Latin America it is Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America. Republished in English to capitalise on the promotional impact of Hugo Chávez’s very public gift of this book to Barack Obama, this classic was first published in Spanish in Mexico in 1971. It surveys five centuries of the rape and pillage of a continent, the veins being those of the nickel, copper and other extractive products that have lured exploiters to the regions over many generations. It is, as Chávez himself has explained, a monument to Latin American history. The book has not changed, of course – and Serpent’s Tail have boxed clever to bring this title out again at this juncture – but Isabel Allende’s eloquent introduction remains pertinent and explains how she among others had to flee the US-backed terror unleashed upon the continent by the military regimes of the 1970s. Perhaps Obama has taken notice – his recent nomination of Puerto Rican Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the country’s Supreme Court would suggest strongly that he is at last sitting up and taking notice of the Hispanic support that took him to the White House, with all the historical baggage that goes with it. – GO’T

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