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Caribbean: The Writing & Politics of Gabriel García Márquez

The literary fraternity is only just starting to adjust to the idea of life without “Gabo” – the inimitable Colombian-born author who was beloved by the world – Gabriel García Márquez, who passed away last Thursday in Mexico City.

Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, García Márquez left a profound impression on readers and aspiring writers alike, with novels like One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. Ever since his death was announced, many Caribbean netizens have been expressing their grief on Facebook, while others – mostly with ties to Cuba – have taken to the blogosphere to discuss García Márquez's passing.

Havana Times published an in-depth post about the author's life, including his controversial friendship with Fidel Castro:

The death of García Marquez, the father of the literary genre known as ‘magical realism’ leaves a huge void. ‘Gabo’ was one of last great survivors of the 1960s and 70s “boom” of Latin American literature.

García Marquez was born on March 6, 1927 in Aracataca, a city in the northern Colombian department of Magdalena. His childhood experiences in this banana plantation town were inspiration for his work. [He] is survived by his wife of a lifetime, Mercedes Barcha…and his sons.

Gabo, as he was also called, was a journalist, screenwriter, short story writer and novelist, socialist sympathizer and close friend of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.

His relationship with the Cuban leader earned him criticism in the literary and political world.

In a follow-up post, the blog focused on the alleged role of the author in the story of the Cuban Five. Cuban diaspora blog Babalu was merciless in its criticism of the Gabo-Castro alliance:

The Colombian novelist…lambasted Latin American dictators constantly, especially those who ruled through military juntas, yet he praised the one tyrant who raised oppression and the art of military dictatorship to new heights.

The late Gabriel García Márquez, image by  Ver en vivo En Directo, used under a CC license.

The late Gabriel García Márquez, image by Ver en vivo En Directo, used under a CC license.

Capitol Hill Cubans was more measured, praising the writer's talent and accomplishments but echoing the same argument when it came to his politics:

Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 87, died last night at his home in Mexico City.

Known as ‘Gabo', he was one of the most popular and talented Latin American novelists of our time. His writings include…Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Autumn of the Patriarch, both with strong political undertones and stinging critiques of Latin American dictators.

Unfortunately, Gabo's criticism spared dictators of the left.

His intimate friendship with Latin America's longest-serving, deadliest and only totalitarian dictator, Cuba's Fidel Castro, was legendary.

Throughout his life, Gabo's condemnation of dictators always stopped short of Havana, where he was provided a home with all of the privileges and luxuries denied to ordinary Cubans.

His double-standard became emblematic. It is practiced today by some of Latin America's leaders, including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica — all of whom were once themselves victims of military dictatorships and scorned those who coddled their repressors.

Yet inconceivably, these Latin American leaders now coddle the sole remaining military dictatorship of the Americas.

Goodbye Gabo.

May your literary legacy live forever.

But close an unfortunate chapter in Latin America's ideological double-standard.

Blogging from Trinidad and Tobago, Kris Rampersad talked about García Márquez's literary legacy:

Gabriel Garcia Marquez influenced us in more ways than we cared to know. His literary genre of magic realism became a medium for writers and artists of the post colonial world trying to grapple with and articulate the experiences of becoming independent in the post colonial world … trying to seize the magic of the moment full with hope and longing in being architects of our own destiny yet fighting off the realism of potential failure from inherited weaknesses of colonial mentality and frailty of humans especially in the face of new found power; the failure of the dream of independence that ranged from corruption of the American dream as well as the still birth of our dreaming into being our ideal post colonial societies.

She even turned the discussion about the author's politics on its head, saying:

If only the political world read more they probably have worked harder to shape a better world driven by the conscience of the likes of Marquez. RIP.

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