16.05.2012 - ODG

Irina Bokova pays tribute to the memory of the great writer Carlos Fuentes

© UNESCO/Inez ForbesThe writer Carlos Fuentes at UNESCO Headquarters, 1994.

It was with great sadness that UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova learned of the passing of the great Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes, a lifelong companion of UNESCO, who died in Mexico at the age of 83.

"Carlos Fuentes was the ultimate travelling writer. He was an avid explorer of the world's cultural diversity and the diversity that makes up Mexican identity. Carlos Fuentes was also a diplomat committed to international solidarity and North-South dialogue, and this humanism is felt in both his career and work. He leaves us with a message of understanding and confidence in the power of culture to change the world. This is a precious legacy in our complex and globalized world," said Irina Bokova.

"Carlos Fuentes engaged in many UNESCO activities, bringing to each of them the weight of his authority and the scale of his perspective," she added.

Carlos Fuentes’ novel “Aura” was published in the literary review Periolibros, a successful UNESCO project to promote books and reading across Latin America. He was also one of the leading figures of the programme “Encounter between Two Worlds”, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America in 1492. This celebration provided an opportunity to discuss the circumstances and consequences of bringing peoples and cultures together. Carlos Fuentes was heavily engaged in the conception and activities of the World Decade for Cultural Development (1988-1997), which was one of the first global initiatives for the recognition of cultural rights and the promotion of culture for development.

A diplomat at the International Labour Organisation, Ambassador of Mexico to France from 1974 to 1977, Carlos Fuentes was professor of English and Hispanic literature at various universities in Europe and the United States. In 1958, he published The Most Transparent Region, a panorama of life in Mexico in the 1940s and 1950s. His novel Terra Nostra won the Romulo Gallegos Prize in 1977, considered the highest literary award in Latin America. Winner of the prestigious Cervantes Prize for lifetime achievement in 1987, Carlos Fuentes was a member of the International Jury for the proclamation by UNESCO of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. He received the UNESCO Picasso medal in 1994.

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