[News] Chávez creates overnight bestseller with book gift to Obama
news at freedomarchives.org
Sun Apr 19 11:00:44 EDT 2009
Chávez creates overnight bestseller with book gift to Obama
Sales surge for book about history of Latin
America's exploitation after exchange at summit of Americas
Chavez gives a book to Obama during the Summit of the Americas
Hugo Chavez gives Barack Obama a copy of Las
Venas Abiertas de America Latina (The Open Veins
of Latin America) by author Eduardo Galeano
during a meeting at the Summit of the Americas Photograph: Ho/REUTERS
A 36-year-old historical tract attacking the
imperialist exploitation of Latin America has
become an improbable overnight bestseller after
the Venezuelan president
Chávez abruptly presented a copy to
During a session of the summit of the Americas in
Trinidad at the weekend, Chávez strode up to
Obama, patted him on the shoulder and, with a
friendly handshake, gave him a paperback copy of
Eduardo Galeano's 1973 work, Open Veins of Latin
America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent.
As footage of the encounter appeared on news
bulletins, the book rocketed up the US paperback
sales chart of the online bookseller Amazon,
soaring from number 54,295 to sixth place within 24 hours.
A classic work in left-wing circles, Galeano's
book analyses five centuries of unequal relations
with Europe and the US. It contends that Latin
America has been abused as industrialised nations
plundered its natural resources, ranging from
gold and silver to cocoa and cotton.
Obama accepted the book in good humour, telling
reporters: "I thought it was one of Chávez's
books. I was going to give him one of mine."
The US president has made it clear that he wants
a friendlier relationship than his predecessor
with Chávez, who once described George Bush as
the "devil" and who frequently railed against the
US for providing flawed global leadership.
After meeting Obama, Chávez suggested on Saturday
was ready to send an ambassador to Washington,
ending a diplomatic impasse which began in
September. The summit was also notable for
further signs of a thaw in US-Cuban relations.
It is not the first time that Chávez has
influenced the readers of the world. Three years
ago he publicly praised a Noam Chomsky tome,
Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global
Dominance, at the United Nations. The book surged
to the top of Amazon's bestseller list.
Galeano's book could provide food for thought in
the White House. A highly controversial work, it
was banned during periods of military leadership
and Uruguay. In a famous passage, it argues: "Our
defeat was always implicit in the victory of
others; our wealth has always generated our
poverty by nourishing the prosperity of others."
A recent edition contains an introduction by the
novelist Isabel Allende, who writes that the book
was one of a handful of items she took with her
when she fled Chile after a military coup in 1973
along with a bag of dirt from her garden, some family pictures and clothes.
Advisers to Obama suggested, however, that a
practical problem may interfere with the
president's enjoyment of the book. When asked
whether Obama was likely to read it, White House
spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "I think it's in
Spanish, so that might be a tad on the difficult side."
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