Renowned Argentine poet Juan Gelman, 83, dies in Mexico

Argentine poet Juan Gelman in 2012 Mr Gelman will be remembered both for the quality of his poetry and for his determination in finding out what happened to his disappeared family members

Related Stories

Argentine poet Juan Gelman has died aged 83 in Mexico City. He is considered to be one of the greatest authors in Spanish and was awarded the prestigious Cervantes Prize in 2007.

Mr Gelman, a left-wing activist and a guerrilla in Argentina in the 1960s and 1970s, lived in Mexico for 20 years.

He wrote more than 20 books and regular columns for newspapers.

His son and his pregnant daughter-in-law died after being abducted by the military government in the 1970s.

Juan Gelman

  • The son of Jewish immigrants to Argentina from Ukraine
  • Published more than 20 books of poetry since 1956, translated into 14 languages
  • Began his career as a political activist and a campaigning journalist
  • After fighting as a guerrilla against the military governments of 1976 to 1983, was forced into exile
  • His ceaseless search for his abducted family members made him a powerful symbol in the struggle for human rights

Official accounts say almost 20,000 people disappeared at the hands of the regime in between 1976 to 1983, but human rights groups say the figure is at least 30,000.

In 1990 Mr Gelman was able to identify his son's remains, discovering that he had been executed and buried in a barrel filled with sand and cement.

He was never able to find the remains of his daughter-in-law Maria Claudia.

But in 2000, he was also able to trace his granddaughter, born before Maria Claudia's presumed murder. The child had been handed over to a pro-government family in Uruguay.

The reunion was one of the most high profile involving disappeared people in Argentina's history - fewer than 600 victims of the 1976-83 "dirty war" have been found.

Correspondents say that Mr Gelman's work celebrates life but is also tempered with social and political commentary, reflecting his own painful experiences with the politics of his country.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Latin America & Caribbean stories



  • Two women in  JohanesburgYour pictures

    Readers' photos on the theme of South Africa

  • Worcestershire flagFlying the flag

    Preserving the identities of England's counties

  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health

  • The OfficeIn pictures

    Fifty landmark shows from 50 years of BBC Two

  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.