Lannan Foundation awarded the 1999 Cultural Freedom Prize to Eduardo Galeano. Mr. Galeano received $250,000. An additional $100,000 was donated to a charitable cause of his choice in his name. Mr. Galeano received the award at a reception held in his honor on Wednesday, 21 April 1999 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The flowering of cultural freedom, (and) the freedom of diversity, are feats ever more difficult for poor people and weak countries to achieve, condemned as they are, to imitating the lifestyle imposed everywhere, nowadays, as the only possible way of life. — Eduardo Galeano
According to Foundation President Patrick Lannan, "We were very happy to award Mr. Galeano the first Cultural Freedom Prize. Mr. Galeano’s writing is brilliant, perceptive, compassionate, and magical. He has the courage to speak out for those people whom the privileged of this world often choose not to listen to. In doing so, he has persevered for many years in the struggle for human rights and justice."
Mr. Galeano was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1940. He began his career as a political writer when he was 13, publishing cartoons in El Sol, the weekly paper of the socialist party in Uruguay. He later wrote for the weekly journal Marcha, considered by Mr. Galeano to be "the most important Latin American publication in all of history," becoming editor-in-chief in 1961. In 1964 he became director of the daily newspaper Epoca and two years later became editor-in-chief at the University Press of Montevideo. In 1974 Mr. Galeano’s protest against corruption and violence in Uruguay forced him to flee to Argentina. There he founded the magazine Crisis, described by him as showcasing "the best of Latin American literature, art, and popular culture." After a coup in Argentina, he fled to Spain where he lived in exile until his return to Uruguay in 1984. Throughout his career and exile, Mr. Galeano continued to work on novels, short story collections, and works of nonfiction.
An outspoken critic of the increasingly dehumanizing effects of globalization on modern society, Mr. Galeano has remained a passionate advocate for human rights and justice. Throughout his lifetime, he has served as a spokesman on behalf of people living under political and economic oppression, urging Latin America’s emancipation from the imperialist influence of Europe and the United States.
Mr. Galeano, whose work has been translated into twenty languages, was the winner of the American Book Award in 1989 for his book Memory of Fire (Norton), a translation from the Spanish of Memoria del fuego. His other books translated into English include a memoir, Days and Nights of Love and War (Monthly Review Press), Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent (Monthly Review Press), The Book of Embraces (Norton), Walking Words (Norton), We Say No: Chronicles 1963-1991 (Norton), and Soccer in Sun and Shadow (Verso). His essays include the introduction to Sebastião Salgado’s An Uncertain Grace (Aperture) and the afterward to Charles Bowden’s Juárez: The Laboratory of Our Future (Aperture). A book of observations on our times entitled Upside Down (in English) was published by Metropolitan Books in the fall of 2000.