Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano, RIP


This video series from the USA is called ‘Open Veins of Latin America‘ author Eduardo Galeano on Democracy NOW! 2006.

By Len Phelan in Britain:

Eduardo Galeano, writer and journalist

Saturday 18th April 2015

September 3 1940 – April 13 2015

“Our principal enemy is not imperialism, or the bourgeoisie, or the bureaucracy. Our principal enemy is fear and we carry it inside,” one of the women who helped overthrow the Bolivian dictatorship in 1978 once told Eduardo Galeano.

The great Uruguayan journalist and writer, who died last Monday, might have written those words as an epitaph to himself. If anyone consistently and courageously gave encouragement to those in struggle — particularly the indigenous populations of Latin America and the oppressed globally — it was Galeano.

Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Galeano started work at 20 and in the early 1960s was a contributor and later editor of the influential weekly journal Marcha.

Following the 1973 fascist military coup Galeano was imprisoned and later forced to flee Uruguay. His seminal 1971 book Open Veins of Latin America — which catalogues the pillage of the continent by European and later US colonialism and imperialism over five centuries — was banned by the right-wing military governments in his native country, Chile and Argentina where he settled for a short time before being forced to flee again to Spain in 1976 following General Jorge Videla’s bloody coup.

The Open Veins was the book Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez gave to Barack Obama at the opening of the Summit of the Americas in 2009. US columnist Andres Oppenheimer described it as “a diatribe whose underlying theme is that Latin America’s poverty is caused by US imperialism” and, in lurid prose that must have amused Galeano, stated that Obama showed misplaced appreciation for the gift “considering that Chavez’s gesture was the equivalent of presenting Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf to an Israeli president.” The book subsequently went to number two on the Amazon best-seller list.

When exiled in Spain he wrote Memory of Fire, regarded as one of the most powerful literary indictments of colonialism in the Americas. The trilogy — Genesis, Faces and Masks and Century of the Wind — combines history, journalism and biography in an incandescent prose.

As former Uruguayan president Jose Mujica has said of his writing: “He worked a gigantic path which helped all Latin Americans understand our roots. His work did more than illuminate truths — it painted our suffering and our shared feelings.

“Galeano imbued this work with a thorough effort unearthing even native-American legends and went on to discover a kind of telluric past depicting ancestral cosmologies which lay at the heart of the history of America.” He was a “sharer of dreams, of hopes, of pain, of frustrations and a gigantic love for life.”

In 1985 Galeano returned to Montevideo and, following the victory of the Broad Front alliance in the 2004 Uruguayan elections — which ushered in the first left-wing government in Uruguayan history — backed the new administration.

The Uruguayan people had used “common sense,” he stated, because they were “tired of being cheated” by the traditional Colorado and Blanco parties.

In 2005, Galeano joined the advisory board of the pan-Latin American television station TeleSur based in Caracas, Venezuela. He was a supporter of the Bolivarian revolution and an unswerving, though unromantic, friend of Cuba. “I have never confused Cuba with paradise so why should I now confuse it with hell?” he once remarked. “I am just one among those who believe that Cuba can be loved without lying or shutting up (about it).”

“Fidel Castro is a symbol of national dignity. For us Latin Americans — who have been humiliated for over 500 hundred years — he is an endearing symbol.”

Throughout his career, Galeano was showered with academic and literary awards in the US, Scandinavia, his native Uruguay and Latin America, where he gained the prestigious Casa de las Americas prize in 1975, 1978 and 2011.

One of his last books’ Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone, typifies his extraordinary output. These short stories, some only a few paragraphs long, provide historical insights and radical perspectives on everything from the origins of fire to football — one of Galeano’s great obsessions — and along the way pays homage to communist leaders like Lenin, Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh.

In a recent interview, Galeano restated his literary mission. It was to give voice to “the nobodies: the no-ones, the nobodied, running like rabbits, dying through life, screwed every which way. Who are not, but could be. Who don’t speak languages, but dialects. Who don’t have religions, but superstitions. Who don’t create art, but handicrafts. Who don’t have culture, but folklore. Who are not human beings, but human resources. Who do not have faces, but arms. Who do not have names, but numbers. Who do not appear in the history of the world, but in the crime reports of the local paper. The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them.”

Galeano never lost sight of that mission and it is why his books will endure as long as the “nobodies” exist.

Uruguayan Writer Eduardo Galeano Dies at Age 74 in Montevideo


Originally posted on JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba:

Source:  TeleSUR
April 13, 2015

The famed Uruguayan writer and journalist authored over 35 books, including the “Open Veins of Latin America.”

eduardo galeano 4Internationally awarded Uruguayan author and journalist Eduardo Galeano died Monday of lung cancer at age 75 in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, according to local newspaper Subrayado.

The writer of about 35 books, including the “Open Veins of Latin America,” which became a bestseller overnight after the late President Hugo Chavez handed the book over to his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama during the fifth Summit of the Americas in 2009, was born Sept. 3, 1940.

The confirmation of his death was also covered by Spanish daily El Pais and Europe Press.

One of the most notable authors of Latin American literature

Galeano is considered to be one of the most notable authors of Latin American literature. Among his many works are “Memories of the Fire,” “The Following Days,” and “Guatemala, an Occupied Country.”

View original 64 more words

Biggest rodent ever, new research


This video says about itself:

22 April 2010

CC en Español

A short animated video about the largest rodent that ever lived, Josephoartigasia monesi, also known as the Giant Pacarana. A fossil skull discovered in Uruguay belonged to a rodent, which researchers estimate weighed up to 1 tonne (1000kg)! Andrés Rinderknecht and R. Ernesto Blanco named the new species “monesi” in honor of the famous paleontologist, Alvaro Mones.

The largest rodent alive today is the capybara, which can weigh over 60kg, much smaller than its extinct cousin.

The original article describing J. monesi can be read here.

The skull is housed in Montevideo, Uruguay in the Museum of Natural History and Anthropology.

Much thanks to Dr. Blanco and Dr. Rinderknecht for their amazing discovery! And thank you to Luisa for her Spanish translation…I owe you one!

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Biggest ever rodent was a huge guinea pig with strong, tusk-like teeth

Bite was about as strong as that of a tiger

Andrew Griffin

Wednesday 04 February 2015

The biggest rodent that ever lived, which looked like a huge guinea pig and used its big teeth like an elephant does its tusk, according to new research.

Josephoartigasia monesi, which lived about three million years ago, is the biggest fossil rodent ever found.

Computer modelling has been used to determine how powerful its bite was, and how it used its huge teeth. The research was led by Philip Cox, of the University of York’s Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences.

He found that the bite forces were similar to that of a tiger — about 1400 Newtons. The teeth would have been able to withstand three times that force.

“We concluded that Josephoartigasia must have used its incisors for activities other than biting, such as digging in the ground for food, or defending itself from predators,” said Cox. “This is very similar to how a modern day elephant uses its tusks.”

To conduct the research, Cox made a CT scan of the fossil and used it to reconstruct its skull. Researchers then used finite element analysis on the model, a technique that can be used to predict how an object would undergo stress and strain.

Costa Rica 3-Uruguay 1, congratulations with bird videos


This video is about a male resplendent quetzal in the Savegre valley in Costa Rica.

Like favourites and reigning football world champions Spain lost 1-5 to the Netherlands: tonight underdogs Costa Rica won unexpectedly 3-1 against Uruguay. Uruguay had won the World Cup twice, and was #4 at the last World Cup.

To congratulate Costa Rica, here are three videos, one per goal, about the beautiful birds in Costa Rica.

This video is called Amazing hummingbirds – Costa Rica.

And this video is called Toucans of Costa Rica.

Talking about wildlife in Costa Rica: there will be more of my reports about it, but sorting out photos took longer than expected. But Costa Rican wildlife reports will be back at this blog.

Uruguayan dictatorship torture general on trial


This video says about itself:

May 28, 2010

Tens of thousands of Uruguayans including President Jose Mujica marched in silence on May 20th demanding to know the fate of victims of the US-backed military dictatorship which led the country from 1973 to 1985.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Dictatorship general appeals jail sentence

Friday 10 May 2013

The first general convicted of human rights violations during Uruguay’s dictatorship has appealed his 28-year prison sentence, his lawyer has confirmed.

General Miguel Dalmao was found guilty on Wednesday of the 1974 murder of literature professor and communist activist Nibia Sabalsagaray.

Nibia Sabalsagaray

Gen Dalmao’s lawyer dismissed the verdict as “speculation” and said he’d already launched an appeal on Thursday.

Uruguay’s military junta had previously accepted his claim that 24-year-old Ms Sabalsagaray hanged herself with a handkerchief from an iron peg in the wall just four inches above her head.

Her family were banned from seeing her body but a medical student reported signs of torture and inconsistencies with suicide.

Gen Dalmao has been in hospital for months and is unlikely to serve his sentence.

Pre-dinosaur mesosaurs’ live birth


Despite the fact that the mesosaur embryos were dated to around 280 million years ago, researchers found them in a remarkably well preserved condition

From Discovery News:

Live Birth Predates Dinos

Analysis by Jennifer Viegas

Mon Dec 10, 2012 06:31 AM ET

Producing living young, and not external eggs, is a form of birth that could date back to 280 million years ago or even earlier, a new study suggests.

Called viviparity, this form of birth is used by humans, but clearly we were far from being the first to evolve it.

The study, published in the December issue of Historical Biology: An International Journal of Paleobiology, focuses on mesosaurs, which were among the world’s first aquatic reptiles. They lived in what are now South America and South Africa at a time when these two landmasses were united and part of the giant supercontinent Pangaea.

Mesosaurs, and even their earlier ancestors, possibly “were not able to produce hard shelled eggs, at least for the first several million years of their evolution,” lead author Graciela Piñeiro, a paleontologist at Uruguay‘s Facultad de Ciencias, told Discovery News. “After the recent discovery of mesosaur embryos, we can state with a high degree of confidence that embryo retention developed early in amniote evolution, given that mesosaurs are among the basal-most reptiles and that they date from the Early Permian around 280 million years ago.”

Piñeiro and colleagues Jorge Ferigolo, Melitta Meneghel and Michel Laurin recently discovered the exceptionally well-preserved mesosaur embryos at sites in Uruguay and Brazil. The environmental conditions at the locations allowed for the preservation of soft tissues, nerves and blood vessels, she said.

Giving birth in this manner and laying eggs each come with advantages and disadvantages. Eggs with hard, mineralized shells, such as those associated with today’s chicken eggs or those of dinosaurs, are believed to help reproduction on dry land. But many terrestrial animals, including humans, do not lay eggs, so there must be other benefits to viviparity.

“We think that the retention of the eggs may have appeared in amniotes as a useful strategy to avoid predation and increase survivorship chances for the embryos,” Piñeiro said.

Parental care often then follows. There is even some evidence that mesosaurs provided such care, because adults and juveniles have been associated together in the fossil record.

At least some mesosaurs even had the added challenge of giving birth and raising young in extremely salty water.

“In Uruguay, mesosaurs may have first colonized the shallow water environment of the Mangrullo Formation, which under the establishment of arid climatic conditions that increased evaporation became like a salty marsh where just a few opportunistic organisms could tolerate the anoxic bottom conditions generated by the accumulation of high amounts of organic matter,” Piñeiro explained.

When infant mesosaurs entered the world, they possibly even had a salt gland and other anatomical adaptations already in place, allowing them to survive the otherwise challenging conditions.

There is also compelling evidence that giant, carnivorous, four-flippered reptiles known as plesiosaurs gave birth to live young as well. Robin O’Keefe of Marshall University and team discovered a big embryonic marine reptile contained in the fossil of its 15.4-foot-long mother, which lived 78 million years ago.

“The embryo is very large in comparison to the mother,” O’Keefe said, “much larger than one would expect in comparison with other reptiles. Many of the animals alive today that give birth to large, single young are social and have maternal care. We speculate that plesiosaurs may have exhibited similar behaviors, making their social lives more similar to those of modern dolphins than other reptiles.”