Open veins of Latin America / Guide to the Perfect Latin-American Idiot


May 26, 2007
This thread is about two books, the first being "Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina / Open Veins of Latin America", written by Eduardo Galeano.

The second book I'd like to discuss is "Guia para / Guide to the Perfect Latin-American Idiot" by Mendoza and Llosa

"Las venas abiertas de América Latina es un ensayo del escritor uruguayo Eduardo Galeano publicado en 1971. En esta obra, difícil de clasificar como muchas otras de Galeano, el autor analiza la historia de América Latina de modo global desde la Colonización europea de América hasta la Latinoamérica contemporánea argumentando con crónicas y narraciones el constante saqueo de los recursos naturales de la región por parte de los imperios coloniales, entre los siglos XVI y XIX, y los Estados imperialistas, el Reino Unido y los Estados Unidos principalmente, desde el siglo XIX en adelante."

As a reaction to this classic, a few intellectuals wrote "Guide to the Perfect Latin-American Idiot"

Three Latin American writers, all ex-leftists, attack misconceptions about Latin America and ingrained sentiments of victimization and anti-Americanism among its people.

I still have to read both works, but I'm curious if any of the foristas have read this/these book(s) and what their opion is..

Saludos desde Venezuela :)
No, I'd real like to read Open Veins.

As for the other book I'd sooner not read it. It seems fairly obvious from a neutral perspective that Latin America has been mercilessly exploited by itself and outside powers for a long time. Anyone who lives here knows there are problems. . .
"Open Veins..." is a highly recommended book for anyone truly interested in understanding Latin America. It's an excellent starting point. And because of the way it's structured, it's very easy to read. It's thorough & well researched.
On the other hand, the "Manual.../Guide" by Alvaro Vargas Llosa et al might be read as a response written almost 30 years later... Although well written, with some insightful viewpoints, it doesn't have the depth or thoroughness that Galeano shows in "Open Veins..." Still, I would recommend that you read both.
To echo the above, I have just started reading Open Veins and would whole heartedly recommend it. There's a lot of history and detailed information there, but it is easy to read due to the author's ability as a story teller.
Just finished the first chapter. I highly reccomend this book
I'm reading Venas Abiertas in Spanish right now, but I would love to read it in English after... does anyone know where to find a copy in English?

If you like Open Veins, read Upside Down by Galeano - one of my favorites.
Well, open veins is a fairly good literary essay, but i wouldn't rely in it to get a deep understanding of Latin America, unless you are an anti-capitalist, then you'll love it. The main idea of the book is quite simple, Latin America is the way it is because of evil foreigners. Galeano arguments this with picturesque anecdotes that fits his allready set strong ideological views.

Vargas Llosa does the same thing, in an almost opposite ideological spectrum. One thing in its favor is that, while Galeano represents the PC (PC in Latin American terms) and accepted version of our history , Vargas Llosa is more of an underdog.

Both books are a good read, but neither of this authors delivers a deep analysis (no to mention at least moderately unbiased) on Latin American history or politics.

There are lots of writers, historians, social scientist, etc. with a far more insightful approach to Latin American history.
fedecc said:
. . . . There are lots of writers . . . with a far more insightful approach to Latin American history.
True. Galeano is not well-regarded by professional historians, even those with personal Marxist or anglophobe biases.
So the genocide of the native americans and the plunder of the minerals af latin america was just capitalism. Can i be so bold as to ask was the use of the Jews as slave labour and the mass slaugther afterwards just capitalism and therefore acceptable.
I ordered the books and they were delivered to my address in The Netherlands (Venezuelan mail service is almost inexistent). I'll have the time to read the books this fall and will voice my opinion here.