The "private reports" of Gabriel García Márquez to Guillermo Cano

Preamble for the Gabo 2018 Festival, to be held in Medellín from 3 to 5 October

The one who baptized them as & # 39; private reports & # 39; was Gabriel García Márquez when he sent the letters to his & # 39; friend's soul & # 39; Guillermo Cano reviewed. She misses her best Concho & # 39; so much that she writes letters to him in which he reports of his life as a correspondent in Europe, his setbacks as a beginning writer and even his loves and desires.

The stories he revealed began in the mid-fifties of the last century, when Gabo went to Europe with the only guarantee that he was a "special envoy" of The Spectator and shortly thereafter he heard that the newspaper was closed by the dictatorship of Rojas Pinilla, so he had to remain on the basis of a drip clone and faced with feelings of hunger.

Some were handwritten and others typed on the same typewriters where he typed The colonel does not have anyone to write, in Paris, and The patriarch's autumn, in Barcelona. The epistolary register goes until 1978. Today we have the privilege to know them because the director of The Spectator he never disappeared as his starwriter once asked him, and because Don Guillermo's widow, Ana María Busquets, kept them.

In September 2015, I discovered the letters while I interviewed her for a profile of Carmen Balcells – who died that month – the literary agent of García Márquez, a Catalan like her and her boyfriend. Then he remembered the most personal and painful of everything: at the end of 1986, after murder of Pablo Escobar, Don Guillermo Cano murdered when he left. The Spectatorthe widow made her pain public because the writer was not at the funeral, did not go to condemn the crime, nor was she in solidarity despite the brotherhood of the two families since Gabo was a stranger. Carmen did not, either, who knew before the fame of the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature. She invited us to her home and the best restaurants in Barcelona, ​​such as 7 Puertas. He talked a lot with Guillermo de El Espectador and the Gabo and letters were written. & # 39; (You may be interested: the magical realism of Carmen Balcells).

García Márquez and Balcells, aware of the displeasure of Ana María, demonstrated at the beginning of 1987. He came to me in surprise and he scolded me for what I wrote and he brought me a letter from Gabo. He said that they were too sensitive people, that at that moment they could not say what they felt. But I claimed that one should overcome and think that others need solidarity. She gave no room to sentimentality and said before leaving: & # 39; Do you know what that letter is worth? What can you get from that card? & # 39;

Three years ago, Dona Ana Maria did not want these papers to be made public. He agreed, however, because the family decided to sell them at the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas, Austin, in search of funding for the Guillermo Cano Foundation, which is defending press freedom on an international scale and is awarding a worldwide prize. year. They go to the same spot where the largest archive of Gabriel García Márquez rests. There they are cataloged and from January 2019 they become important documents to link the creative history of Gabo-journalist and Gabo-literate, and at the same time save the legacy of Don Guillermo Cano, because the letters are proof of the vision of the world and the profession of writer who had these two great storytellers. (Read: The eternal life of Gabo in Texas).

The first letters date from the time that García Márquez settled in Paris at the end of 1955 and sent reports to the newspaper, which could not keep up with the payments because in Bogotá he was increasingly cornered by the transition between the government. curator of Laureano Gómez and the military regime of Gustavo Rojas Pinilla. Gabo himself was investigated that year by the dictatorship after the publication The Spectator, from his series chronicles "Story of a shipwrecked", in which he argued how the naval ships were used for contraband. The breeding ground of Violence – with the capital letter that passed into the history books – boiled between conservatives and liberals. Newspapers were not allowed to report on the political conflict that devastated the country and "contempted" the head of state. In September 1952, the headquarters of again and The Spectator, in the center of Bogotá, was burnt and since June 1953 press censorship was in effect via the General Command of the Armed Forces.

After the mandatory closure of The Spectator, on February 20, 1956 the newspaper appeared as an alternative The Independent, which circulated with difficulty to June 1, 1958, the date on which it appeared The Spectator. Cano kept his correspondent informed of this context. Basically Gabo was supportive: "Although the newspaper is not in good condition, my contributions will have a price – not symbolic but real – of a Colombian peso." Reading in Europe Le Monde and The Times, he encouraged his boss to continue: "Here I have convinced myself, seriously, that The Spectator It is one of the best newspapers in the world. "He felt guilty and willing to help:" Tell me – within three days, three years or three centuries – when you open the paper. I will immediately leave to write a chronicle. I want to thank you again for the boost you gave me and put me in Paris. Stuffed animals, hugs and hugs. "(This was El Espectador in which García Márquez worked).

The first writings were from the Hotel de Flandre. I told him about his trips to England, to learn English "which is still very bad" and to Italy to learn cinema. Once the savings were up, the depressing phase began, which was beneficial as a background for creating The colonel does not have anyone to write. He typified: "My poor novel full of stumbling … All these things that happen to me confirm my idea that I am a great writer and that is why Paris is starting to hit hard.For now, my only perfectly defined sensation is that I want to sit down and crying, it's about time! "

Then he declared "terribly angry" because he did not get what he had agreed: "Years ago … I urgently sent a voucher of 420. They announced immediate delivery: it has not arrived yet I am in a desperate situation … I was left without a fair physicist. "While filming the colonel's fiction who never received his pension, he jumped on villains – in a month he changed his address twice. From the street, Cherubini complained: "Dear Concho: I do not know if you are brazen to write the same thing again." But more than two months have passed since the liquidation of The Independent. I think they had time to get out of the urgent crickets. I learned about my situation through Álvaro Mutis. The source was useless … Actually, I do not know how I'm ahead of my name. Miracles of Paris. "

How was it suffered? "Venezuela solves the problem, with a new specialty that I make available: rider comments Mexico starts to buy news notes (it also talks about two weekly reports for Venezuela and one for Peru) For now, only the few dollars in the hands of The Independentto create a little order in my messy problems … You know it's more practical to know what to expect than to wait indefinitely. I want you to avoid the need to write business letters … for you I always prefer to write & # 39; private reports & # 39; ".

For example, he confessed that he had "a horrible entanglement of blankets and pennies with an excellent friend whom I dragged from Italy." Added to this, the closure of the newspaper and the immediate prospects, you can already imagine the state of my moral collapse. will be. "Several letters, sent from 23 Oudinot Street, in a shared address with his architect-friend Hernán Vieco, insist on the topic:" Do me the favor to talk to the manager. a rain falling from the sky. "

He regretted that he was not in Colombia to make a report of the 53 people who were drunk with alcohol in a city near Barranquilla, a fact that Le Monde. "What a formidable report would have been the reconstruction of the tragedy, following the trail to the victims, the man who was secretly partying of his wife." The soul of the journalist created by his "brothers" "he was taught The Spectator contrary to his obsession to show that he could also use stories and novels. That Europe would not be great. "An icy summer with rain … I used the exile to settle in. I work hard on the novel – which is on the long run – and on a long story that I hope will first appear in French."

He spent the months reading, rereading, writing and rewriting until he saw the light at the end of the tunnel: "I would have to write a series of 25 parts if I told you in detail how I could survive in Paris. the thing straightened, fortunately, and I even have stamps to give me the luxury to write to my friends. "Paris transformed it:" I have not wasted my time, I have learned many things – but especially of life, many things in life – and apparently my French are very acceptable, I have come to the conclusion that I was an unbearable little boy in Colombia filled with sawdust, and this helped me to love my friends more. "

He sent Guillermo Cano proof of his success: "I do not know how I finished my second book, it's kind of a penance for that awful device that's called Leaf waste. Maybe I am doing an edition in Colombia. The title: The colonel does not have anyone to write. It is a simple, direct thing and I think that what happens is things that really happen to people. I manage, on the originals, a translation in French. & # 39;
In what he & # 39; open spaces & # 39; calls, he has his & # 39; superior duties & # 39; never neglected The Spectator. The proof of this is one of the longest and most emotional letters when, after a month of imprisonment, he circled the stories about his journey through the socialist countries and announced: "My dear Guillermo: there is the best journalistic work I have done So far: 14 Chronicles about my journey to the Iron Curtain … an integral work, without contradictions ". It refers to the fact that "in many cases a section on the Soviet Union implied the revision and correction of all chronicles on Poland".
And he felt proud: "It is a work done as a literary work, thinking every word, looking at the style, and with a certain vanity that it is really very good chronicles". According to him, "the total work is twice as long as Leaf waste".

He warns that he could have written "50 parts," but he confines himself to "journalistic interest," and Guillermo's commitment to the truth and rigor of his editor, "I have not written anything that a witness does not have. .. The general intention is to give sticks for both parties … I can answer any of the written words … you can be sure that there is no rule that is not true and honest … I beg you see that the titles do not have too much political intention … You know me and you know the way back, the long way back I've had to make to write these chronicles objectively. "

His "expensive Guillermo" was the only one with a license to "read carefully … to break the uncomfortable things". Gabo knew that this series & controversy & # 39; would excite in a country of sectarians & # 39; and & # 39; dogmatists & # 39; Yet he asked: "Do not try to create the impression that there was more opportunity for me than for them … try to be impartial and liberal at all costs." Also that he "would not use a line from this letter in the propaganda of the chronicles", because "the private letters are ridiculous when they are published".

With these stories he sent a pack of negatives by post, "the only photo – very bad – that my friends from Moscow sent me", because his photographer could not get any further than Berlin; one of them on the Red Square and another in a "cocktail" in Warsaw with "the US delegate", who asked him to publish to "visit" at the Foreign Ministry, in the days when he had been informed that he could not go back to England

There are travel tracks: two weeks in Casablanca (Morocco), "invited by an Arab doctor (apparently Mohammed Tebbal), who is one of the big friends I leave scattered around the world". All messages are valuable, even those left by hand in the hotels, but the most important thing for a lover of literature is a typography on April 5, 1966, in which García Márquez announces the final version of his greatest effort. and what do you want The Spectator publish the first chapter: "… in a separate envelope I will send you the first chapter of it HUNDRED YEARLY YEARS (capital letters of the original). This is not only the first time this is published, but it is the first time that I provide a chapter of a novel in the making. Cheers! "

The "exclusive" comes in three pages from the literary magazine of Sunday, May 1, 1966. Gabo describes it as follows: "It is a book of more than 1,000 pages, where it tells the story of the family Buendía tells since the founding of Macondo, until a storm dragged the city a hundred years later. & # 39; He expected a worldwide reach: "This novel will be delivered next month to Sudamericana (the label that issued it in Argentina in 1967). published), and there are already sold options for the following publishers: Harper & Row, from New York; Julliard, from Paris; Feltrinelli, from Milan; Aufbau-Verlag, from Berlin, for distribution in the two Germany, Austria and Switzerland; J. M. Meulehoff Publisher, from Holland, and for a publisher in Romania. "

In the end, he tells the story of how he celebrated: "I entered Barranquilla in a Martini barrel and my friends (La Cueva) brought me on a PAA jet at eight o'clock in the evening, after I had spent a day in Kingston, the barrel was opened in the customs of Mexico and I was saved safe and sound, but I still do not miss the guava. "He then sent the censorship of the Soviet censorship to the Russian edition & # 39 ;, of which there is currently no trace. On 6 May he thanked her for "the monumental spectacle" and her happiness is as full as worrisome: "I already feel like I am a kind of Sophia Loren".

On 20 January 1968 he informed her from Barcelona about his unsuccessful isolation to "take the step" to the next book, The patriarch's autumn. The madness of Hundred year the stalemate: "I am very lazy, I read a little bit here and there, and then the liter Valdepeñas I pack for lunch leaves me until the next day out of the battle, I begin to realize that there is nothing duller than one professional writer. "Thanks to this, this newspaper brought unique pieces," chivitas "called Gabo, as a story that was published only in English in the magazine playboy in 1971, "The most beautiful drowned man in the world", and that was part of the eight The incredible and sad story of Candida Eréndira and her heartless grandmother.

Perhaps in the midst of the worries of Gabo's world renown, since then they prefer to exchange notes by hand, at least until 1978. One has been sent from Germany, in which he warns that he has permission has been given to publish in The Spectator a foretaste of his novel about the dictator who said to him so much: "You are sent from Barcelona the publishable excerpt The fall. In consultation with the editor – who has not allowed more progress than this – it can only be published in the last week of April or later, but never before. I personally ask you to see that the deal is being executed. "

Others speak of various daily problems: messages for Ana María, with references to the wife of Mercedes Barcha-Gabo, about coincidence on vacations, about novels of other authors she sends from Europe as a read recommendation; why they ate a ham that they were keeping, why not the subscription to El Espectador, who is not going to the United States to receive the Books Abroad-Neusdadt award from the University of Oklahoma, etc. The majority sent the street República Argentina, in Barcelona, ​​where he bought a house following the advice of Mrs. Ana María Busquets. Detail thanked her and Guillermo Cano on November 18, 1967, with a sentence that might be the motto of the Catalan capital: "It turned out to be a great city, because it is at any moment how you want it: it lends for everything. "

Neither the most famous writer in the world stopped his greetings with greetings The Spectator: "At Christmas I will be in Barranquilla for 10 or 15 days … I will bring the sacrifice of climbing to Bogotá to drink something … I always hug my father" Ulises "(Eduardo Zalamea Borda, he stressed as "my unforgettable father", what he taught him about universal literature), "Clan Cano", "Salgar Ice Cream" (Don José Salgar , the editor) and all comrades … it would be terribly formidable if we were wedged by an immense barker … When will I come back?

* This would not have been published without the valuable help of Ms. Ana María Busquets and the Cano Busquets family.
Wait tomorrow: the controversial letters about Colombian cinema.

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