Eduardo Galeano on Obama’s Victory


Source: Democracy Now!

We go to Montevideo to speak with Eduardo Galeano, one of the most celebrated writers from Latin America. Galeano discusses the significance of an African American being elected president of the United States. [includes rush transcript]

Eduardo Galeano, one of the most celebrated writers from Latin America. He was born in Uruguay in 1940. He was imprisoned and forced to leave the country following the 1973 military coup. He is the author of many books, including The Open Veins of Latin America and Memory of Fire.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to talk about this global election. I want to you stay on with us, Professor Lacewell, as we move south. We’re joined right now by Eduardo Galeano, one of the most celebrated writers of Latin America.

We’re talking about a global figure here. Barack Obama, born in Hawaii to a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya, raised in his childhood years in Indonesia, then sent back to Hawaii and raised by his white grandparents. His grandmother just died on the eve of this election. He then heads off to California for college and then to Columbia, then on to Chicago to community organize, then to Harvard Law School, then back to Chicago, runs for state senate, then becomes senator. He’s just a first-term senator when he announces his intention to run for president of the United States. Last night, elected, the first African American president of the United States of America.

Eduardo Galeano, you were born in Uruguay in 1940, imprisoned, forced to leave the country following the 1973 military coup. Among your many, many books, Memory of Fire and The Open Veins of Latin America. Have you been watching this election? And what is your response?

EDUARDO GALEANO: Well, Amy—you are Amy, right?




EDUARDO GALEANO: Amy for president. Congratulations for your prize. I have just received the news, the good news. You have received a prize, Nobel alternative prize, it’s true?

AMY GOODMAN: The Right Livelihood Award, yes.

EDUARDO GALEANO: Well, it’s just something like proof that justice exists, so I’m happy about it. And about your question, how was it? How do I see this?

AMY GOODMAN: Your response to the election of Barack Obama as president.

EDUARDO GALEANO: Yes, yes. Well, as almost everybody else, I’m happy about it. I mean, I received it as a victory in the long, difficult struggle against racism. And it doesn’t imply that Obama may be better because he’s half-black. It’s like you, like women. I am always writing about the rights of women, black, Indians, too, equality of rights, but it doesn’t imply that I believe in your superiority. We are all half-gold and half-rubbish. It doesn’t depend on the gender or the color of the skin.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the response in Uruguay to Barack Obama? I mean, it is a first, but also, his views of Latin America, when it comes, for example, to President Chavez of Venezuela, he has been as harsh as the Republicans, though he does say that leaders should talk to each other without precondition.

EDUARDO GALEANO: Yes, yes. I’m worried about the repetition of this dangerous, toxic word, “leadership.” I have heard this word said by Obama and also by McCain, and I usually hear it with a dangerous frequency in all the—in almost all the politicians in the United States, and about Latin America, it’s usual to say, “We should recover our leadership in Latin America.” We don’t need any foreign leadership. Let it be. Let reality be as it wants to be, with no ruling state deciding the destiny of other countries. Please, no more. Stop with this tradition of the messianic mission of, you know, saving the world. No, it has been terrible during so many years, even centuries. No. Perhaps this crisis, this present crisis, so strong and terrible, may give something like a violent shower of realism and humility to this new government, who is beginning now—which is beginning now.

AMY GOODMAN: What would you most like to see, from your perspective in Montevideo in Uruguay? What would you most like to see the United States of America represent, Eduardo Galeano?

EDUARDO GALEANO: What I would most like to see? Well, I would like that Obama, who has now tremendous, historic opportunity, that he never forgets that he’s now going inside the White House. The White House will be his house in the time coming, but this White House was built by black slaves. And I’d like, I hope, that he never, never forgets this.