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On September 14, 1920, the small town of Paso de Los Toros – in the Uruguaya department of Tacuarembo – witnessed the birth of Mario Benedetti. 25 years later, he started writing in the renowned weekly paper March.
He worked there until 1974, when the fascist wave in Latin America ended with the democratic governments and decided to shut the dissenting voices, that filled the empty pages with free ideas.
By that time Benedetti was already known as a great writer and poet.
Some of this most famous works were the novel “La Tregua” (The Truce), poems like “Quemar las Naves” and stories when his look on the everyday life made the routinary things shine in a Montevideo that was less grey and greener than today.
The 70s were years of persecution, hunt and exile. Benedetti, a faithful representative of his people, was not the exception to the rule.
The commitment of his art with the world that surrounded him and his activism led him to be a target of the dictaroship.
He left his country in 1974. He first moved to Buenos Aires, where the local dictatorship also tried to kill himj.
But it failed, and the poet managed to escape the fate of many of his friends, like politician Zelmar Michelini, who was shot by the bullets of Plan Condor.
He then went to Lima, and Havana. His tour ended in Madrid.
Ten long years of exile marked his eyes and his writing.
Benedetti died on a cold, dark Sunday, on May 17 in his home town Montevideo.
Three years after death had taken his only wife, his lifetime companion, Luz Alegre.
The poet had been fighting his illness and loneliness.
He was a fighter, he struggled all his life.
But the time has come.
He left us his stories, novels, essays, poems, all those that rest in paper, and those that wake up in the voices of reciters and singers, like his compatriot Daniel Viglietti, Catalan Joan Manual Serrat, or anyone who quotes him, who brings him back, making this world a little better.
This is Real World Radio’s tribute to Mario Benedetti, a small man like all men, but also a big man like all men.
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