domingo, 27 de abril de 2014

The Power of Garcia Marquez by Jon Lee Anderson

The Power of Garcia Marquez

by Jon Lee Anderson




The New Yorker, September 27, 1999

PROFILE of writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 72, also telling about Colombia... Describes his armored car and his retinue of bodyguards... They are reassuring in a country where nearly two hundred people are kidnapped every month, and more than two thousand are murdered... Along with coffee, oil, cocaine, and heroin, Colombia is rich in emeralds, and supplies some sixty per cent of the world’s market. The middle class and the wealthy have long since moved out of the center of Bogota and settled in the northern suburbs. Even there they live in fear of being robbed or kidnapped by criminal gangs, and those few who can afford it, like Garcia Marquez, have armored cars, bodyguards, or both. Garcia Marquez and his wife, Mercedes, live in a spacious duplex, two floors of a four-story apartment building with floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over a landscaped park. The apartment is all white—carpets, sofas, and walls—and filled with art, including a huge early Botero and a series of exquisite erotic Indian miniatures... He has soft brown eyes set in a comfortable, lined face. His curly hair is gray, and he has a white mustache and bushy black eyebrows. His hands are beautiful, with long slender fingers. He is an attentive and charming conversationalist, and what Colombians call a mamagallista—a joker... Tells about his relationship with Fidel Castro... He and his wife Mercedes have two children: Rodrigo, who lives in Los Angeles and has just written and directed his first feature film; and Gonzalo, who is a graphic designer in Mexico City. Garcia Marquez has several homes, and although he was Colombia’s most famous citizen long before he received the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1982, Bogota has never been his main residence. He and Mercedes have for many years spent most of their time in Mexico City and part of the year at their other homes, in Cuernavaca, Barcelona, Paris, Havana, Cartagena, and Barranquilla, on the Caribbean coast. Each of them is furnished in the same way—with white carpets, large glass coffee tables, modern art, a carefully chosen sound system, and an identical Macintosh computer. Garcia Marquez is obsessive about such things. They make it possible for him to work wherever he is. He says that he usually wakes at five o’clock, reads a book until seven, dresses, reads the newspapers, answers his E-mail, and by ten—“no matter what”—is at his desk, writing. He stays there until two-thirty, then joins his family for lunch. After lunch, the writing day is over, and the afternoon and evening are devoted to “appointments, family, and friends.”... 

Politics and journalism have taken up much of Garcia Marquez’s time since early this year, when he became the majority owner of the weekly news magazine Cambio. He bought Cambio with his Nobel Prize money...Cambio kept them in Bogota when they would normally have been in Mexico or Europe. Mentions the chilling Human Rights Watch appraisal of life in Colombia, which ...has been engulfed in a complicated civil war for more than half a century... Tells how the drug cartels and right-wing militias and left-wing guerrillas have blurred... “Narcoguerrillas” have become a big factor in U.S. drug policy... 

Tells how Garcia Marquez introduced the new Colombian president, Andres Pastrana, to Fidel Castro, who could facilitate talks with the guerrillas... Briefly mentions talks ceding a huge neutral zone to the guerrillas... Mentions the Clinton administration’s new, bellicose stance... Garcia Marquez’s views have enormous weight in Latin America. His prestige is such that he has the trust of both governments and revolutionaries... He recently established the Foundation for New Ibero-American Journalism in Cartagena. The town is a so-called safe haven for tourists... Cartagena has also become his large family’s de-facto headquarters. He is the eldest of eleven children, all but one of whom are still alive. His ninety-four-year-old mother and most of his siblings still live along the coast. Tells about his childhood years in the town of Aracataca, which writer visits... Mentions its role in the writing of “One Hundred Years of Solitude”... Describes the murderous activities of the United Fruit Company, which the writer’s driver considered, in the form of the slum of Cienaga, the root of all Colombia’s evil... Discusses his relationship with Castro, which he quietly exploits to secure the freedom of political prisoners... Mentions his friendship with General Omar Torrijos of Panama... He has lymphatic cancer... Tells about fears of increased military aid to the Army by the U.S... Garcia Marquez is described as the one person who could tell both sides to stop fighting...
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