Just days after Hugo Chávez gave President Barack Obama a copy of “Open Veins of Latin America” in Trinidad last week, the English-language version of the book shot to the No. 2 slot on Amazon.com.
The Wall Street Journal
Americans seemed to be curious about Mr. Chávez’s reading tastes. But in Latin America, “Open Veins” is a well-known rant by Uruguayan Marxist Eduardo Galeano. And it also has another distinction that Mr. Chávez may be less inclined to publicize: It is widely regarded in free-market circles as “the idiot’s bible.”
The book was tagged with that moniker in the 1996 best seller, “The Manual of the Perfect Latin American Idiot.” Penned by three Latin American journalists — Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, Carlos Alberto Montaner and Alvaro Vargas Llosa — the “manual” is a witty assault on the populist, militarist, caudillo mentality that has dominated the region for hundreds of years.
Chapter three is dedicated to explaining the importance of Mr. Galeano’s book for the idiot: “For the past quarter century the Latin American idiot has had the notable advantage of having at his disposal a kind of sacred text, a bible filled with all the nonsense that circulates in the cultural atmosphere that the Brazilians call the ‘festive left.’ Naturally we refer to Open Veins of Latin America.”
Open any page of Mr. Galeano’s book and you will learn that Latins are losers. Not on their own account, mind you. It’s all because Europe and the U.S. (the world’s winners) buy raw materials from them and don’t pay a fair price. In this way the haves of the world exploit the have-nots. “The history of Latin America’s underdevelopment is, as someone has said, an integral part of the history of world capitalism’s development.”
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