'Literary giant' Garcia Marquez lauded worldwide
By Leticia Pineda and Lissy De Abreu, AFP
April 20, 2014, 12:25 am TWN
MEXICO CITY--World leaders, writers and legions of fans paid tribute Friday to Nobel-winning Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, while his homeland remembered the literary legend with music, candles and roses.
Garcia Marquez, who died Thursday at age 87, was mourned in the European cities where he once lived, the United States and his native Colombia, which inspired his surreal stories of family, love and dictatorship.
Colombia declared three days of mourning for the author of "One Hundred Years of Solitude," with flags flying at half-mast, newspapers publishing special editions and folk bands singing in his honor in his native Caribbean coast town of Aracataca.
Aracataca inspired him to create the imaginary Caribbean village of Macondo in his masterpiece, "One Hundred Years of Solitude," a family and historical saga set over two centuries.
Visitors flocked to his childhood home, now a museum, to place candles, pictures of the author and his favorite flowers, yellow roses.
"We had to come," said Aida Maestre, 60, who was on vacation 70 kilometers away in Rodadero when she decided to come to Aracataca.
In Bogota, the headline in the newspaper El Espectador, where Garcia Marquez worked as a journalist for many years, called him "Immortal." Catholics marking Good Friday said they would pray for him atop a hill shrine.
Public Tribute Monday
In Mexico City, where he lived for decades until his death, officials said a public tribute would be held at the Bellas Artes cultural palace on Monday.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will attend the event.
The author's ashes will be taken to the palace and Santos will stand in an honor guard alongside Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
"It will be very simple, very beautiful and well-deserved for Gabo," said Colombian Ambassador Jose Gabriel Ortiz.
Admirers left flowers in front of Garcia Marquez's house, including white roses sent by Colombian pop star Shakira. Friends continued to flow into the house.
A 7.2-magnitude earthquake shook the city but the family stayed inside.
The author's wife, Mercedes Barcha, and two sons Rodrigo and Gonzalo said his remains would be cremated but his final resting place has yet to be disclosed.
The cause of death was not revealed, but Garcia Marquez died one week after being hospitalized with pneumonia.