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Gariel Garcia Marquez

October 21, 1990

"Gabo Talks" quotes Garcia Marquez as saying: "Rome labored in a gloom for 20 centuries, until an Etruscan king anchored it in history." Rome was founded in 756 BC; about a century later, Lucius Tarquinius, a Roman citizen of Graeco-Etruscan origin, was elected; his last descendant, Tarquinius Superbus, was deposed in 508 BC, and Rome became a republic. Rome assimilated peoples and cultures and drew from the knowledge and technology of older Mediterranean civilizations to reach its greatness. The United States did it by absorbing various cultures and catalyzing them into a new and stronger one.

This is what Latin America has been unable to do. It has failed to build onto its great indigenous civilizations and the cultures of its conquerors. Five centuries after the European conquest, Latin America is still Third World. How long does it take to recover from a brutal invasion? Through his character Marquez whines, "Let us have our Middle Ages in peace." Despite devastating, recurring bouts of Black Death, the European Middle Ages was a period teeming with vitality: Men built soaring cathedrals and great walled cities, stimulated commerce, developed industrial innovations and above all produced great leaders. If this is indeed Latin America's Middle Ages, it is one of corruption, bankruptcy and social injustice.

Marquez latest book shatters the myth of Simon Bolivar. But despite his newly discovered flatulence and pedophilia, Bolivar was a man of vision and action. Where are Latin America's great leaders of today? Castro?

Men and nations cannot hope to improve their lot until they recognize their own shortcomings. Latin America will never achieve its potentials as long as it continues to blame the United States for all its ills.

LIDA BATES

Laguna Hills

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