We Say No – chronicles 1963-1991 (Eduardo Galeano) [1989]

we say no'

Galeano skriver om Latinamerika, ur ett glödande anti-kolonialt perspektiv. Han kan som få andra vända de postkoloniala myter som än idag mättar debatten. Allra bäst är han när han skriver om kulturens och främst litteraturens roll i historien, dess kraft att levandegöra människors historia. Skildringen av arbetarna i Venezuelas diamantgruvor är stark. Han är klok när han skriver att ett folk utan historia inte vet vart det är på väg:

What process of change can activate a people that doesn’t know who it is, nor from whence it comes? If it doesn’t know who it is, how can it know what it deserves to become? Cannot literature aid, directly or indirectly, in this revelation?  

Ur intervju med Che Guevara 1967:

”At those moments, I remember how hard the peasant Crespo worked to get me to walk. When I couldn’t go on and I’d ask them to leave me behind, he would use that special vocabulary of our troops: ”Shitty Argentine, walk or this gun butt will make sure you do.” 

Om Perón:

Such systematic Machiavellianism obliges Perón to live in a state of permanent contradiction. He writes one letter with the righi hand and, at the same time, another with the left. He says yes, he says no, he deals with God and the Devil at once. He never bets on just one horse; he prefers to bet on them all without ever risking his capital. Running a mass movement from afar, by remote control, both requires and encourages such a foxy style, replete with the old tricks of politicking. 

Peron’s own contradictions reflect and worsen those of the Peronist movement, a heterogeneous conglomerate where you can find everything from the extreme right to the extreme left. Holding it all together is Perón himself, the cement of a a mosaic…

Ur texten ‘Ten Frequent Lies or Mistakes about Latin American Literature and culture’ (en av antologins starkaste):

A writer is one who writes books, says bourgeois thought, which splinters everything… Meanwhile, there are those who believe they are heirs to a certain illumination that comes in a direct line from the Parthenon: the writer ”grants” culture: he doesn’t converse with the others, giving back what he receives every day from them, he rather transmits truth to the others as a favor…


In the world that they set forth, people belong to automobiles and culture is consumed, like a drug, but is not created. This is also a culture, i culture of resignation, that generates artificial needs to obscure real ones.


Lenin scoffed at ”literature for workers.” He admired and enjoyed Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Pushkin and advcocated access by the workers to ”literature for all,” as he put it, as a means to enrich their understanding of reality and their critical conscience. Lenin made fun of pious intellectuals ”who think it’s enough to speak to the workers about life in the factory and chew over what they have known for a long time.”

Om liberalernas känslighet för ”yttrandefrihet” och ”censur” (oftast betyder det att en vit intellektuell inte får skriva något nedsättande om en minoritet):

…there exist in Latin America 110 million persons ”in conditions of abject poverty.” Isn’t structural censorship Ibeing applied to a huge number, denying them access to books and magazines which ”circulate freely”?


Censorship stopped, the curtain rises, the public applauds; but watch out! That beautiful young lady named Democracy might be a transvestite: she strips, and a colonel is revealed! […] The economic policy that made the military dictatorship possible and necessary continues more or less the same, at the service of an imperial power system that lends you what it steals from you and strangles you with your own rope. 

Mer om den dominanta kulturen, och demokratins skenheliga fasad:

Slavery has supposedly been outlawed for a century, but a third of Brazil’s workers earn little more than a dollar a day, and the social pyramid is white at the peak and black at the base…

Even maps lie… the Northern Hemisphere takes up two-thirds and the Southern Hemisphere one-third. Scandinavia appears to be larger than India when in reality it is less than a third the size…

…”reconquest” of Spain by Christians against ”Moorish” invaders, a way of disqualifying Spaniards of Muslim culture who had been living in the peninsula for seven centuries when they were expelled. 

Throughout America, from north to south, the dominant culture acknowledges Indians as objects of study, but denies them as subjects of history: the Indians have folklore, not culture; they practice superstitions, not religions; they speak dialects, not languages; they make handicrafts, not art. 

Would beauty be beautiful if it were not just? Would justice be just if it were not beautiful? We say no to the divorce of beautity and justice, because we say yes to the powerful and fertile embrace they share. 

Träffsäker, kärnfull:

In his diary, the admiral [Columbus] wrote the word ”gold” 139 times, and fifty-one times the words ”God” or ”Our Lord.”

And many years later, Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa explained that there is no other way ”to save” the Indians from hunger and misery than to modernize them, even if their cultures must be sacrificed. 

At the end of the last century, a British doctor, John Down, identified the syndrome which now carries his name. He believed that an alteration of the chromosomes implied a return to inferior races, which begot Mongolian idiots, Negroid idiots, and Aztec idiots. 


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