Galeano & May Day

galeano1Eduardo Galeano, the Uruguayan author who had a tremendous impact on how Latin Americans understand history, passed away recently. His book about soccer, El fútbol a sol y sombra, is already on our school´s HL reading list for the IB program. Looking through his writing I found a short piece about US history that I have adapted for my level 3 classes. If you have ever lived abroad you surely have noticed that virtually every other country on Earth observes May Day, in commemoration of an event that is often cited as the birth of the labor movement. When Galeano visited Chicago he found it strange that there was no statue, no plaque, no historical memory at all of the Haymarket Square Riot. This piece, which is very characteristic of his historical writing, is anecdotal and is as much about future possibilities as it is about the past. I think that this is a wonderful introduction to his work for students in the third year of Spanish.

I have added photos and questions on the second side. You might not like the creative response questions, which try to get at the essential theme of the piece. Click here for a .pdf or, in case you want to change anything, click here for a .docx version. I plan on reading the article slowly with my Spanish 3 students on Friday, May 1, which of course is still just a normal school day in the United States.


  1. Another great contribution. Thank so much for sharing. I am reading the book to my students as a listening comprehension activity here and there, and they like it. It is all new to me. Had heard of Galeano but thought him a radical, don’t know why really. You inspired me to give it a second look. Thank you Mr. Peto.

    1. He is a radical! Back in grad school, when I aspired to become a historian of Latin America, his writing bothered me (so simple and anecdotal). It wasn´t until I actually met people and I came to understand how his words spoke to them (in a way most professional historians do not), that is when I started to reevaluate Galeano. If your students complain about an anti-yank stance, point out that Galeano also had heavy criticism for the powerful and corrupt governments of Latin America!

  2. Gracias por compartir este recurso. I suggest that you include a footnote crediting you with creating this document, as it will be passed along and will be hard to trace. Thanks for including a .doc version, as I was able to add that to my copy.

  3. I grew up in Mexico City and learned history from a very nationalistic, anti American professor. My US citizen, 2nd generation expat. father taught us (his children) that the May day celebration was viewed as “communist” with parades and posturing and that in the US, Labor Day in September was the same thing. It gives us a different perspective to compare US cultural practices through that lens maybe. My dad always wanted us to read the Jungle and think about the garment worker’s union and the purposes of its founding. I share my perspectives and then we talk about Nike and sweat shops and so on…
    I feel so bad about el fallecimiento de Galeano and I sincerely hope there are similar voices.
    Thanks so much for sharing this.

  4. I only teach Spanish 1, but will read this in my heritage classes! I’m always looking for great articles with probing questions and since we live just 20 minutes from downtown Chicago this is PERFECTO! Thanks for sharing!!

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