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Colombia: Cartagena lays to rest Garcia Marquez’s ashes

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The ashes of Nobel literature laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez were laid to rest in Cartagena, the jewel of colonial architecture on Colombia's Caribbean coast, following a tribute to the author.

"There is joy mingled with sadness," his 85-year-old sister Rosa Aida Garcia Marquez, one of the author's ten siblings, told AFP.

His ashes will be kept in a former convent near the home where he liked to stay.

Huge yellow butterflies, a symbol of magical realism -- the genre Garcia Marquez helped make famous -- graced the cloister's trees for the ceremony, which was attended by his widow and some 400 guests, most dressed in white.

A tourist psses in front of the Watch Tower in Cartagena  Colombia  on May 22  2016
A tourist psses in front of the Watch Tower in Cartagena, Colombia, on May 22, 2016
Luis Acosta, AFP

"It's an honor for the city of Cartagena to host such an event," Gonzalo Garcia Barcha, a son of the celebrated Colombian writer, told AFP.

Garcia Marquez, the author of "One Hundred Years of Solitude," died at the age of 87 on April 17, 2014 in Mexico, where he lived with his wife Mercedes Barcha.

"The family is here," Garcia Barcha said; relatives had arrived in recent days from France and the United States.

Edgar Parra Chacon, president of the University of Cartagena, to which the cloister is attached, expressed what he said was a "great honor to receive 'Gabo,'" the affectionate nickname given to the writer.

The Claustro de la Merced, or Cloister of Mercy, is about 100 meters (yards) from the family's seafront home.

General view of the inner courtyard of the former La Merced monastery where the ashes of Colombian w...
General view of the inner courtyard of the former La Merced monastery where the ashes of Colombian writer and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez will be buried, in Cartagena, Colombia
Luis Acosta, AFP

Garcia Marquez's two sons, Garcia Barcha, a designer who lives in Paris, and Rodrigo Garcia Barcha, a US-based filmmaker, unveiled a bronze bust of the author by British sculptor Katie Murray, which stands in the courtyard.

The family placed the ashes inside stonework under the bust earlier during a private ceremony.

Only a portion of Garcia Marquez's ashes are being held in Cartagena, however. The rest will remain in Mexico, where he lived since the 1980s.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who once saluted Garcia Marquez as "the greatest Colombian of all times," was absent from the funeral, despite being on the invitation list.

Garcia Marquez earned widespread admiration for his fervent defense of the rights of victims of Latin American dictatorships.

There was no unanimity around the placement of the writer's ashes.

Tourists pose for a snapshot in front of a mural painting depicting the late Colombian writer and No...
Tourists pose for a snapshot in front of a mural painting depicting the late Colombian writer and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Cartagena, Colombia
Luis Acosta, AFP

"The homage to Garcia Marquez... should take place at his native Aracataca," the village where he was born in 1927, Nereira Esparragoza, 51, told AFP. He had traveled from Barranquilla, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) away.

Katia Manjarrez, 53, a Cartagena businesswoman, went further, saying, "We should respect the country he loved, Mexico." As much as the presence of Gabo's ashes could be a boon to her city, she said, "for him, Cartagena and Aracataca were less important."

But near the walled city's famous Clock Tower, 62-year-old Gustavo Cabarcas said the ashes belonged in Cartagena.

"For us," he said, "it is a source of joy that they remain here."

The ashes of Nobel literature laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez were laid to rest in Cartagena, the jewel of colonial architecture on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, following a tribute to the author.

“There is joy mingled with sadness,” his 85-year-old sister Rosa Aida Garcia Marquez, one of the author’s ten siblings, told AFP.

His ashes will be kept in a former convent near the home where he liked to stay.

Huge yellow butterflies, a symbol of magical realism — the genre Garcia Marquez helped make famous — graced the cloister’s trees for the ceremony, which was attended by his widow and some 400 guests, most dressed in white.

A tourist psses in front of the Watch Tower in Cartagena  Colombia  on May 22  2016
A tourist psses in front of the Watch Tower in Cartagena, Colombia, on May 22, 2016
Luis Acosta, AFP

“It’s an honor for the city of Cartagena to host such an event,” Gonzalo Garcia Barcha, a son of the celebrated Colombian writer, told AFP.

Garcia Marquez, the author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” died at the age of 87 on April 17, 2014 in Mexico, where he lived with his wife Mercedes Barcha.

“The family is here,” Garcia Barcha said; relatives had arrived in recent days from France and the United States.

Edgar Parra Chacon, president of the University of Cartagena, to which the cloister is attached, expressed what he said was a “great honor to receive ‘Gabo,’” the affectionate nickname given to the writer.

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The Claustro de la Merced, or Cloister of Mercy, is about 100 meters (yards) from the family’s seafront home.

General view of the inner courtyard of the former La Merced monastery where the ashes of Colombian w...
General view of the inner courtyard of the former La Merced monastery where the ashes of Colombian writer and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez will be buried, in Cartagena, Colombia
Luis Acosta, AFP

Garcia Marquez’s two sons, Garcia Barcha, a designer who lives in Paris, and Rodrigo Garcia Barcha, a US-based filmmaker, unveiled a bronze bust of the author by British sculptor Katie Murray, which stands in the courtyard.

The family placed the ashes inside stonework under the bust earlier during a private ceremony.

Only a portion of Garcia Marquez’s ashes are being held in Cartagena, however. The rest will remain in Mexico, where he lived since the 1980s.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who once saluted Garcia Marquez as “the greatest Colombian of all times,” was absent from the funeral, despite being on the invitation list.

Garcia Marquez earned widespread admiration for his fervent defense of the rights of victims of Latin American dictatorships.

There was no unanimity around the placement of the writer’s ashes.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
Tourists pose for a snapshot in front of a mural painting depicting the late Colombian writer and No...
Tourists pose for a snapshot in front of a mural painting depicting the late Colombian writer and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Cartagena, Colombia
Luis Acosta, AFP

“The homage to Garcia Marquez… should take place at his native Aracataca,” the village where he was born in 1927, Nereira Esparragoza, 51, told AFP. He had traveled from Barranquilla, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) away.

Katia Manjarrez, 53, a Cartagena businesswoman, went further, saying, “We should respect the country he loved, Mexico.” As much as the presence of Gabo’s ashes could be a boon to her city, she said, “for him, Cartagena and Aracataca were less important.”

But near the walled city’s famous Clock Tower, 62-year-old Gustavo Cabarcas said the ashes belonged in Cartagena.

“For us,” he said, “it is a source of joy that they remain here.”

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