Galeano's book Open Veins of Latin America has been around for a while (it was first published in 1971) but it became even more famous after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave it to Barack Obama during the Summit of the Americas. I'm not a Latin Americanist, so I hope people will forgive me for not having read it before.
The book is beautifully written and its message is very strong: "Today, the world believes that America means the United States; as for us, we inhabit a sub-America, a second-class America of nebulous identification" (Here and everywhere else the translation is mine, so my apologies for the clumsiness of style that truly fails to do justice to Galeano's beautiful Spanish).
At the same time, as soon as I started reading it, I remembered why I had abandoned my plan of becoming a Latin Americanist many years ago and became instead a Peninsularist (a person who specializes in literature and culture of Spain). So many of great Latin American thinkers and writers are, in my opinion, sadly limited by two modes of thinking: Marxism and male chauvinism.
In the preface to the book, Galeano talks about birth control measures that developed capitalist countries supposedly implement in Latin America because "it's more hygienic and efficacious to kill guerilleros in the womb than in the fields or in the streets." Leave it to the true macho to see birth control as something negative. The idea of Latin Americans procreating and multiplying in order to be able to oppose Western capitalism in huge numbers is very pleasing to him. This is no surprise since he can never get pregnant or give birth. His life choices will never be limited by yearly pregnancies. His health will not be destroyed by clandestine abortions and endless childbearing. He wants a Latin America free and rich for men to enjoy and for women to fulfill their "natural" duties of producing more guerilleros.
Easily accessible birth control is the only thing that can give women a chance at a human existence worthy of the name. It's sad that in his preoccupation about the destiny of Latin Americans Galeano forgets female Latin Americans entirely. It's wrong to exploit people but since women aren't really human, who cares if they get exploited as human guerillero-producing factories?
(To be continued...)