When he won the Romaulo Gallego International Book Award in 1972, Gabriel García Márquez committed two things he had promised publicly to never do: give a speech and receive a prize.
Romulo Gallegos, as it was known later, was settled in 1964 by the government of Raúl Leoni, the other Venezuelan civilian president who managed to complete a presidential candidate without being disturbed by a military coup.
so When it fell to a hundred years of loneliness, the prize almost did not reach its second edition, but it took with it the prestige that, in the first it had won the greenhouse, by Mario Vargas Llosa, an author already internationally inaugurated. In this context, it was very difficult for a García Márquez who was 45 years old to reject the divorce.
Gabo, whom his close friends called him, accepted it, but he did not miss the opportunity to ratify his conviction that all public recognition of a writer was the beginning of his embalming or to clarify that he only accepted this award for an act of love and solidarity with your friends from Venezuela. "Friends and generous, cojonudos and cocksuckers to death … for them I came"He left sitting in his speech.
In fact, García Márquez had a long and close relationship with the Venezuelans. A love he cultivated from his childhood, thanks to the contact with the political exiles who fled the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gómez, had come to Aracataca, his hometown, but it was achieved in the late 50s of the 20th century when He arrived at Caracas and worked as a reporter for the magazine Momento, first and Venezuela graph, later.
In those years, just as 1958, when Latin America was plagued by military dictatorships, it is a unique witness to the popular resurrection that overthrew Marcos Pérez Jiménez and gave way to democracy. Then he wrote, "… because Venezuela was for a short time, but in an unforgettable way in my life, the freestanding country in the world. And I was a happy man."
But it was not only the affective memory that encouraged him to accept the hundred thousand Bolivar, about $ 25,000, from Rome Gallegos. Gabo had met Teodoro Petkoff years before, a still young political leader, ex-guerrillas, who had achieved international notoriety for a book, Czechoslovakia: socialism as a problem, asking the totalitarian structures and logic of Soviet communism.
The book would have been a criticism of decadent communism if it were not for the fact that the writer was an outstanding communist party leader in Venezuela (PCV). And, as the author spoke from the monster's intestines, the wrath of great priests broke over the so-called Iron Curtain. Leonid Brezhnev, secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, personally condemned the author as "a threat to world communism".
But Petkoff did not escape to the right. Along with other politicians in his generation, he split up PCV; He ruled out the public's involvement with the guerrillas – As he had been in the early 60's, it explained as a big mistake; claimed democratic freedoms as a basic condition for creating more just but also free societies, and helped create the Movement for Socialism, MAS, an organization that brought a renewal air to the left, both European and Latin American, stagnated by Marxist orthodoxy in Soviet style .
Despite his eternal friendship with Fidel Castro, Gabo would personally know the clear dissident of Soviet communism. The creation of MAS was extremely exciting. The idea of a party that provided the opportunity for a financially just and egalitarian society, but within the framework of democracy and forging a left unprotected by the Cuban model, the author of a hundred years of loneliness seemed a genius.
The author and editor of the newspaper El Nacional, Miguel Otero Silva, created the meeting. And Otero Silva himself said that the spark was instant. The two seductive personalities, dazzling intelligence and incredible verbs entered into a dialogue that remained uninterrupted to the moment when García Márquez began losing faculties because of her final illness.
So when Pet-koff called him to announce that he had won "Romulus", Gabo knew immediately what the fate of the money that was waiting for him would be. At the awards ceremony he received the check. He picked it up. He kissed him
And the audience applauded him and got up. But the next day, at a press conference, he announced that he would donate $ 25,000 to the movement for socialism and gave control to his friend Teodoro Petkoff, who thanked him on behalf of his party and all Venezuelans.
Although some media questioned the transfer, the spokesmen of the two major political parties, AD and Copei, received it as an autonomous and indescribable decision from the winner, demonstrating that Venezuela was already a solid and advanced democracy. In Venezuela, times of pacification and consolidation of peaceful coexistence ran into the nearing democracy.
With the prize money, MAS bought a printing house where he began publishing a newspaper, Punto see Llamaba, which came to renew Venezuelan journalism. The new political party had its momentum, a large-capacity renewal movement for reflection, brought together scientists, artists and academics in the first line, but never managed to overcome 5.6 percent of voters.
Petkoff was twice a presidential candidate. He always came to the third. In the future, he wrote a book, Proceso a la izquierda, which is still considered one of the most devastating documents in Latin American revolutionary mythology.
And although García Márquez was never abjured publicly for the totalist project for Castroist, the relationship with Petkoff remains in time. Because among other things sThey had made good friends, and friendship, we know, as a couple is in love, is a mystery that only happens if it happens. You can't force.
García Márquez made literature for her last breath. Petkoff never left politics. Not journalism. He created and directed for six years a magazine called the Hurricane's eye of theoretical-political reflection. Then, already with Chavez in force, he welcomed the direction of El Mundo, a popular evening that he fully transformed. Until one day, on the order of the military leader and president of the republic, he was relieved of his position. Then he founded Tal Cual, a newspaper that became one of the freedom of defense centers of freedom of speech that Chavismo tightened.
After all kinds of pressure, threats, sabotage, rich case processing, multi-million dollar fines, equipment abductions and raids, through choking with blockage of paper purchases that the red regime takes newspapers that do not accept their orders, talcual circulation stopped as printed media. On the same date, Theodore Petkoff also left poor, public life not to return anymore.
As Petkoff, García Márquez also continued to do journalism while his health allowed him to do so.but it at least reduced its intervention in international political life, taking extreme caution to comment on the Venezuelan political process that followed the upbringing of Hugo Chávez to power.
Colombia's lawyer and political scientist José Luis Ramírez León, testifying to the exception of the process for his years as the CAF leader in Caracas, both friends' friend, claims that it was the friendship with Teodoro that prevented Gabo from intimacy and did not even approach Chavez, as Fidel had recommended . However, it should not be forgotten that in December 1998 he published in the newspaper El Universal de Caracas, under the title El Elma de los dos Chávez, an interview he gave to the president elected on a trip from Havana on a private flight.
With skill and sharpness that characterized him, Aracataca nobel wrote a text that was marked by suspicion that he produced a career military man who by his answers and stories seemed to be two different people wrapped up in one. Finally, he closed his text with a question that has been quoted hundreds of times.
He wrote: "While (Hugo Chávez) passed away among his escorted military and friends during the first hour, I was shocked by the inspiration he had raised and spoke quietly to two opposite men. One to whom the hardened luck gave him the opportunity to save his country. And the other, an illusionist who could go down in history as a despot more. "
Petkoff had enough personal reasons to think, as Gabo suggests in the second alternative to his last interview, that they were before someone who would go down in history as another despot. The last years of his life were those who were persecuted, censored, reviled, and persecuted by the leadership of the military socialism's power in the 21st century.
In 2015, he received the Ortega and Gasset Prize, awarded to El País newspaper, but he could not travel to Spain to receive it because he was banned from leaving the country on behalf of Lieutenant Colonel Diosdado Cabello. Also, his friend, Felipe Gonzalez, received him for him and then crossed the sea to deliver it to him in his modest apartment in eastern Caracas.
Petkoff died at the age of 86, Wednesday, October 3, 2017. But long before he left public life, he offered his beloved Colombian friend a precise answer to his doubts about December 1998: "Chávez is a psychopath that is not The same thing to say he is crazy ".
It was a friendship without borders.
SPECIAL FOR TIME
* Venezuelan sociologist and journalist