To be fair, I have to confess that the line is not mine. "Hugo Chavez is the Oprah of the left" was the only interesting quote that Lawrence Weschler, a journalist from The New Yorker, said last week during a conversation -it should have been called a monologue- with Eduardo Galeano at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. The encounter was organized to mark the publication of Galeano's new book, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone. Since Hugo Chavez recommended to Barack Obama to read Galeano's classic title 'Las venas abiertas de America Latina' (and gave him the book), the Uruguayan writer has become a best-seller in the USA. The same thing happened after Chavez recommended to the whole world to read Noam Chomsky´s Hegemony of Survival during a speech at the UN in 2006. That book, published three years earlier, climbed best-seller lists at Amazon overnight.
'It's the best way to sell books, to have them featured in the Oprah show', said recently Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon and Schuster. Hugo Chavez is definitely taking Oprah's place when it comes to left-wing writers. So, in part thanks to Chavez, Galeano visited New York and before a full house of his readers, the writer read a few fragments of 'Mirrors...'. Then, he was unsuccessfully 'interrogated' by Weschler. Early on it became quite clear that Weschler questions didn't seem to please Galeano. "If you had to recommend to Chavez or Obama one book, which one would you choose from all the books that you have read?" The answer: "It's very dangerous to read only one book".
It was a real pleasure to listen to Galeano. He was, in fact, the conductor of a conversation that was mainly a sharp, sweet, tough and ironic monologue about all the things he is been always concerned with: inequalities, injustice, Latin America, the underdogs... I would rather give you Galeano himself than trying to reproduce what he said. The video up there is just Galeano reading a timeless piece in Spanish sometime ago .
This one is a link to the New York event I talked about, good sound, bad image (but we are talking about words, right?), in English. Courtesy of Hugo Chavez. Dear Hugo, who's next?