Uruguayan Writer Eduardo Galeano Apologizes for the War That Devastated Paraguay

Asunción, 15 August (EFE) — Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano today publicly apologized to Paraguayans for the war that his country, allied with Argentina and Brazil, fought against Paraguay between 1865 and 1870.

“Let me take this opportunity to apologize as an Uruguayan, because that [imperialist] punishment [for the crime of protecting the workers and products of the nation] was inflicted through three neighboring countries of Paraguay,” Galeano said at a press conference in which Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, and Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo participated.

Fernando Lugo, Presidente de Paraguay
con Leonardo Boff, Eduardo Galeano, y Ernesto Cardenal

Next to Galeano were Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal and Brazilian thinker Leonardo Boff, one of the beacons of liberation theology, after participating in the inauguration ceremony of Lugo.

The author of Open Veins of Latin America regretted his country’s participation in a war “that was said to last three months” but lasted five years “and exterminated the entire adult male population of this country.”

Guerra do Paraguai / Guerra del Paraguay

He added that the war also killed “the bad seed called independent development” that the Paraguayan government of that epoch had implemented against the model promoted by Great Britain and the United States.

“That model was misnamed ‘free trade,’ which, as we know well, is a freedom that imprisons people, a big lie, because that’s the name that the global North gives to everything that it preaches but doesn’t practice,” said the Uruguayan.

For his part, Boff expressed how pleased he was to have taken part in the civic festival in Paraguay today on the occasion of the inauguration of Lugo and said: “I think all who are at this table are for liberation, and for me, who comes from that theology, this is an extremely happy moment.”

He reminded all that the purpose of this religious current “is to practice not so much theology as liberation, because what matters to God is not theology, it is the concrete liberation of individuals” and stressed that “the pressure of the poor has given a very powerful force to a government that realizes the dreams denied for so many generations.”

Cardenal spoke in the same vein, describing Lugo as “true bishop of liberation.”

Moreover, he said: “We are celebrating the rise to power of one more liberator of Latin America.”

“A few days ago I was in Bolivia, and there I saw a miracle: an Indian president of Bolivia.  Now I have seen another miracle here, too: a bishop president,” said Cardenal.

In the end, Lugo said he was honored to have shared “a feast” with Galeano, Cardenal, and Boff and reaffirmed that he doesn’t feel any fear about his friendly relation with the politics of Chávez, Morales, and Correa.

“People say: Don’t be close to Chávez or Evo.  I’m not afraid of Chávez, I’m not afraid of Evo, I’m not afraid of anyone.  Latin America is living a different moment,” said Lugo, who put an end to 61 years of the conservative Colorado Party hegemony in government.

The original EFE dispatch in Spanish was published in Yahoo! Noticias on 16 August 2008.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).

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