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Exiled Argentine poet Juan Gelman dies

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Argentine Jewish poet Juan Gelman, who was exiled for his activism against the country’s military governments, has died.

Gelman, the author of more than 40 books, died Tuesday in Mexico City.

He was born to a Jewish family of Ukrainian immigrants who moved to the Buenos Aires Jewish neighborhood of Villa Crespo. Gelman, also a journalist, was exiled to Europe in the 1976 military coup and remained there for two decades, living in various countries before moving to Mexico.

In 2007, he received the Cervantes Prize from the government of Spain, the highest award for Spanish letters. Often considered a contender for the Nobel Prize in literature, Gelman also won numerous other awards for his works.

During his absence from Argentina, the ruling military junta, in power from 1976 to 1983, sentenced Gelman to death. His son and daughter-in-law disappeared during the military dictatorship and were murdered. After a  years-long search, Gelman was able to locate in Uruguay his granddaughter, Macarena, who was born during the captivity of her mother and given by the Uruguayan military to a local couple.

In the past decade, he wrote opinion columns in Mexico for the leftist newspaper Pagina 12, usually against the Israeli government’s treatment of the Palestinians.

 

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