Carlos Fuentes and Veterans Day

Today’s 11 November 2013. Y hoy, Google has new doodles to greet people visiting their search engine landing page, but people north of the Río Bravo or south of the Río Grande will get way different greetings.

GoogleFuentesIn México, celebrates the birthday of the late writer Carlos Fuentes while in the US highlights Veterans Day, el día que se recuerda a todos los soldados que han servido al imperio.

I don’t know if this remembrance includes those soldiers who persecuted and killed Native Americans. You know, some sort of clarification on that use of the armed forces. But that’s a story for another day. Today’s story is about Carlos Fuentes.

It would’ve been nice than more than a puño de gringos learned something about the author of The Old Gringo (Gringo Viejo), the 1985 novel that was later turned into a movie starring Gregory Peck, Jane Fonda, y el boricua de Brooklyn Jimmy Smits.

But chance will have it happen next year if Google repurposes it for their American page in 2014.

Fuentes, whose dad was a diplomat, was one of the most prominent Mexican writers and social commentators until his death on 15 May 2012

The author died of massive internal bleeding triggered by a gastric ulcer. He was 83.

The doodle, as you can see in the image on this site, presents the Google header with a sketch of Fuentes’ face.

The background seems to be a (Mexican?) landscape. It probably refers to the scenery of that México that was reborn en la revolución y que plasmó en algunas de sus más de 70 obras publicadas, like La Muerte de Artemio Cruz.

His work and critical stance were not favorite among Mexican and international officials.

Documents made public recently on the FBI web site show that he was denied entry to the country at least twice in the 1960s, according to a story on Fox News Latino.

From the article:

The documents posted on the FBI’s website this week show the United States denied Fuentes an entry visa at least twice in the 1960s.

In one of the memorandums Fuentes is described as “a leading Mexican communist writer” and a “well-known Mexican novelist with long history of subversive connections.”

Fuentes also had some serious beef with former Mexican president Vicente Fox. Both would lash at each other on editorials and interviews with the media.

In 2001, it was precisely then-president Fox’s Secretary of Labor, Carlos Abascal, who censored Fuentes’ novel Aura after his daughter read it as a class assignment.

This is a specific paragraphed the one that irked Abascal:

Felipe cae sobre el cuerpo desnudo de Aura, sobre sus brazos abiertos, extendidos de un extremo al otro de la cama, igual que el Cristo Negro que cuelga del muro de su faldón de seda escarlata, sus rodillas abiertas, su costado herido, su Corona de brezos montada sobre la peluca negra, enmarañada, entreverada con lentejuela de plata. Aura se abrirá como un altar. Murmuras el nombre de Aura al oído de Aura, sientes los brazos llenos de la mujer contra tu espalda. Escuchas su voz tibia en tu oreja: ¿Me querrás siempre?

The teacher that assigned this reading was fired, according to reports from back then.

Years later, Fuentes would say that the sales of Aura increased thanks to Abascal’s censorship.

I don’t know if the author helped the teacher in any way.

This wouldn’t be la última vez que Aura would upset a un político. In 2009, the novel, published in 1962, was among the five banned from the school curriculum in Puerto Rico.

Juan J. Rodríguez, who back then was deputy secretary for academic affairs at Puerto Rico’s education department, argued that the books contained unacceptable vocabulary and language.

Other works by Fuentes include La región más transparente (Where the Air Is Clear), La silla del águila (The Eagle’s Throne), Chac Mool y otros cuentos, and Los caifanes.

If you want to learn more about Veterans Day, you can do a Google search.


About Gustavo Martínez Contreras

was born in Texas, brewed in Mexico City, seasoned in the Mexico-United States border, aged walking the streets of Philadelphia. He had a short-lived stint eating grits, fried chicken, and peaches in Atlanta. He later became a béisbol writer for El Diario de Nueva York. He has written about immigrant communities in English, Spanish, and some Spanglish. Although he does not have a shelf full of awards, Gustavo has received thank you notes and hugs from people who have trusted him with their stories. His work has appeared in Voices of New York, El Diario/La Prensa, Dallas’ Al Día, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Philadelphia Weekly, Radio Bilingüe, Latina Lista,, among others. He is currently pursuing a master's degree at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
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