Both the President of Mexico and Colombia and thousands of mourners came together in Mexico City’s Fine Arts Palace to honor the life of Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His ashes were put on display so that fans could pay their final respects to him. The urn was placed on a pedestal and surrounded by the author’s favorite flowers, yellow roses. The author, who was born in Aracataca, Colombia, died last Thursday at age 87. He lived in Mexico for the past decades and wrote some of his greatest works in the country, such a “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera.” Thousands lined up outside the palace and were pleasantly surprised to see his widow, Mercedes Barcha, and his sons, Gonzalo and Rodrigo, standing as honor guards.
The highlight of the ceremony was when both Colombian President Miguel and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Pena Nieto, stood on the stage together alongside the urn and had a couple of words to say about the author. Colombian President Santos said, “We come as admirers and friends of Gabo from all corners of the planet…He will live on in his books and writings. But more than anything he will live forever in the hopes of humanity.” President Pena Nieto added by saying the author’s death was “a great loss not only for literature but for humanity. Various generations found answers to the questions of life in his stories and tales.”
The event ended on a magical note with attendees tossing up thousands of yellow paper butterflies, which happened to be one of Garcia Marquez’s most famous images from his book, “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” While authors come and go, Garcia Marquez truly was different from them all. In the minds of many Latino Americans, his works served a glimpse of hope of a better future in a region plagued by constant civil wars, corruption and crime. President Manuel Santos made mention of this in his speech: “We join together to pay tribute to the one who, from icy Stockholm in December 1982, touched the world by speaking about solitude in Latino America.” The literary juggernaut who won the Nobel prize in 1982 will not only be remembered by political leaders such Manuel Santos or Pena Nieto, but also by everyday people such as 52-year-old teacher Nelly Hernandez, who said, “Gabo was a watershed in my life, he taught me to relish life through literature.”
Carlos Vera is a Staff Writer at Latino Giant. Originally from Colombia, Carlos grew up in Southern California and has served in the Army Reserves since 2011. He is a junior at American University, pursuing a degree in Political Science. He is currently studying abroad in Brussels where is he is a Legislative Intern at the European Parliament. He is passionate about the intersection between policy, advocacy and community development as it pertains to Latinos in United States.