Juan Gelman Dies: Award-winning Argentine Poet Was 83

Wednesday, 15 Jan 2014 03:51 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Juan Gelman, the award-winning Argentine poet known for his social and political commentary, died in exile on Tuesday. He was 83.

A staunch opponent of nearly all military dictatorships in South America throughout his literary career, particularly in his native Argentina, Gelman was a social revolutionary with ties to the Communist party whose weapon of choice was a pen.

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According to the newspaper Milenio, for which he wrote a weekly column, Gelman died at home in Mexico City, Yahoo News reported. There was no further information provided.

In 2007, Gelman won Spain's Cervantes Prize – the Spanish speaking world's top literature prize. He published more than 30 books over the course of his career, in addition to writing and translating for several publications.

Gelman was reportedly living in exile in Mexico for the past 20 years. Prior to which, Gelman bounced around the globe. He lived in Madrid, Nicaragua, and New York before settling in Mexico City in the 1970s.

Gelman refused to return to the country after then-president Raúl Alfonsín came to power in 1983 with the return of democracy. Alfonsín ordered the nation's courts to try both military and left-wing militia leaders for their actions over the past decades, the Buenos Aires Herald reported.

Gelman's son died in Argentina during the military dictatorship's reign.

In 1990, Gelman identified his son's remains after they were discovered in a barrel filled with sand and cement, the BBC reported. His son was apparently swept up in Argentina's so-called "dirty war," in which the government rounded up thousands of leftists and killed them.

The award-winning poet was reunited with his granddaughter in 2000, after she had been raised by a pro-government family in Uruguay, the BBC reported.

Gelman's daughter-in-law is also presumed dead, however her body was never found.

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