Century of the Wind, the third volume in Eduardo Galeano’s Memory of Fire trilogy, is concerned with the 20th century through the 1980s, when it was published. Galeano highlights significant events that occurred in Latin America as well as other events that occurred in other world regions that strongly influenced Latin America, basing his entries on diverse published sources. Politics, art, science, and media are all included. The vignettes are arranged chronologically.
For 1903, two entries are concerned with the Panama Canal.
[T]he United States has decided to complete the canal, and hang onto it too. There is one hitch: Colombia doesn’t agree, and Panama is a province of Colombia…. President Roosevelt... sends in the Marines.
For 1911, Pancho Villa is profiled as a beloved northern Mexican revolutionary leader. He
likes to dance the tapatío to the strains of the marimba, and to get into shooting contests. Bullets bounce off his sombrero like raindrops.
Several entries for 1924 involve the Mexican muralists, especially Diego Rivera, who paints the people as well as the revolutionary leaders on the university’s walls. Rivera paints
all the peoples of Mexico, united in an epic of work and war and fiesta, on sixteen hundred square meters of wall….
For 1945, the end of World War II, with the dropping of the nuclear bombs in Japan, is presented along with Albert Einstein.
Albert Einstein feels as if his own hand had pressed the button. Although he didn’t make it, the atom bomb should not have been possible without his discoveries about the liberation of energy…. Einstein believed that science was a way of revealing the beauty of the universe. The most famous of sages has the saddest eyes in human history.
1979 brought the overthrow of Anastasio Somoza and the ascent of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
The Somoza clan goes into exile as Augusto César Sandino strolls through Nicaragua beneath a rain of flowers, a half-century after they shot him. This country has gone made; lead floats, cork sinks, the dead escape from the cemetery, and women from the kitchen.
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