Between cumbias and vallenatos: this is how Gabo celebrated the Nobel Prize

“For his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the real are combined in a calm world rich imagination, reflecting the life and conflicts of a continent.”

This is one of the parts of the laudatory of the Swedish Academy upon awarding the Nobel Prize for Literature to Gabriel García Márquezwho would travel to the cold Stockholm (Sweden) to receive the award and put together a real party that broke the protocol of the royalty of that country and that delivers this award.

After learning on October 21 that Gabo would receive this important prizemany began to pack suitcases, and before arriving in Sweden, the Nobel organization was already warned not to have strict compliance with the protocol, since Gabriel García Márquez would not use frag, and instead, they would present in guayabera or denimnot advisable for a city with very low temperatures.

In 172 pages, Gonzalo Mallarino Flórez, makes a deep and detailed account of what it was, his experience 40 years ago, traveling to distant Stockholm (Sweden), as part of the guests at the delivery of the Nobel Prize for Literature that Gabriel received. Garcia Marquez.

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It is about ‘The day Gabo won the Nobel Prize’, a book published by the Planeta publishing house, as a chronicle of a luxury witnesswith the before, during and after what this award has been for an entire country.

All this without ignoring the political and social moment that the country was experiencing at the beginning of the eighties, when the event occurred, at the end of the government of Julio Cesar Turbay, the beginning of the four-year term of Belisario Betancur.

The relations between the writer and the outgoing government were not minor. García Márquez had harshly criticized the security statute imposed by Turbay, which had generated hundreds of imprisoned and politically persecuted. Forms and styles similar to those used by the different dictatorships that had been protagonists in Latin America in recent years.

Such was the tension that there was a possibility that the ‘Son of Aracataca’ would be captured, so it was best that he will stay in Mexicowhere he spent the rest of his life.

As is a Colombian tradition, the country was divided between two sides, between those who were in favor of the government’s decisions, and those who thought the same as García Márquez, until the news of the Nobel Prize for Literature arrived.

That October 21, the country united in the same celebration, although after the euphoria, the resistance would return, but with the prize, could return to the country especially to his beloved Cartagena.

In the final part of the book, before a large album of photographs, Gonzalo invites the reader to accompany him on the trip to Stockholm, with all the particular characters that made up that flight and all the possible anecdotes that can occur when a group of Caribbean people arrive on the shores of the Baltic Archipelago.

Ever since Gabo found out he was the winner, he kept saying that he wanted to celebrate with ‘cumbias and vallenatos’, and he did so, to the letter, in Stockholm.

from the hands of Colcultura, the institution before the creation of the Ministry of Culture, was organizing the delegation that accompanies Gabo to receive the Nobel. The idea would be to show the world, from Stockholm, part of the Macondo that the writer had portrayed in his works.

Gloria Triana was in charge of selecting the best exponents of some of the most representative Colombian folk music.

The names of Luis Quinitiva and his llanero ensemble, together with Toto La Momposinatopped the list, which could not miss Leonor González Mina, better known as ‘La Negra Grande de Colombia’, as well as Carlos Franco and his Atlantic dances or Julián Bueno and the Ingrumá Dances.

Avianca offered one of its famous jumbo jets to make the round trip flight and Artesanías de Colombia provided travelers with balaclavas, ruanas and glovesas temperatures of up to 22 degrees below zero were expected.

It is said that some received dental plans, since they did not have their complete set of teeth, as well as some small workshops for those who had never been on a plane, which could be an inconvenience due to the long journey that awaited them.

A certain sector of the press at the time began harsh criticism of this organization, and many predicted what Colombia would do in Sweden as a ‘monumental bear’.

Given this, the President of the Republic, Belisario Betancur, requested a general rehearsal at the Teatro Colón, all with the purpose of knowing that everything was prepared to be presented during the Nobel celebration banquet.

Had to integrate all folk groups because it could not take all of its members, so the rehearsals were extended for several days.

An adventure that could have ended in disaster became perhaps the best organized party abroad for Colombia. In fact, the newspaper with the largest circulation in Sweden, among its coverage, stated that: “Gabo’s friends had taught Stockholm how to celebrate a Nobel.”


December 11 will mark the 40th anniversary of the day Gabriel García Márquez received the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature from the King of Sweden in Stockholm.

His Nobel Lecture, ‘The loneliness of Latin America’, is considered an authentic literary and political masterpieceof which, these phrases are exalted:

“However, in the face of oppression, looting and abandonment, our response is life.”

“Latin America, that immense homeland of hopeful men and historic women whose endless stubbornness is confused with legend.”

“Neither floods nor plagues, nor famines nor cataclysms, not even eternal wars through the centuries and centuries have managed to reduce the tenacious advantage of life over death.”

“Europeans with a clarifying spirit, those who they also fight for a bigger homelandmore humane and fairer, could help us better if they thoroughly reviewed the way they see us”.

“Solidarity with our dreams will not make us feel less alone, as long as it does not materialize with acts of legitimate support for the peoples who assume the illusion of having a life of their own in the division of the world.”

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“Faced with this overwhelming reality, the inventors of fables, who believe everything, feel entitled to believe that it is still not too late to undertake the creation of a new and burning utopia of life where no one can decide for others even the way to die, where love is truly true and happiness is possible, and where the lineages condemned to a hundred years of solitude finally and forever have a second chance on earth”.

*”Why is the originality that is unreservedly admitted to us in literature denied to us with all kinds of suspicions in our very difficult attempts at social change?”.

The advances in navigation that have reduced so many distances between our Americas and Europe seem to have increased our cultural distance. Why is the originality that is unreservedly admitted to us in literature denied to us with all kinds of suspicions in our very difficult attempts at social change? Why think that the social justice that advanced Europeans try to impose in their countries cannot also be a Latin American objective with different methods under different conditions? No: the excessive violence and pain of our history are the result of secular injustices and untold bitterness, and not a conspiracy hatched 3 thousand leagues from our house. But many European leaders and thinkers have believed it, with the childishness of grandparents who forgot the fruitful follies of their youth, as if no other destiny was possible than to live at the mercy of the two great masters of the world. This, my friends, the size of our loneliness.

“During the colony, some chickens raised in the lands of Alluvion were sold in Cartagena de Indias, whose gizzards contained little gold stones.”

*”A day like today, my teacher William Faulkner said in this place: “I refuse to admit the end of man”. I would not feel worthy to occupy this place that was his if I were not fully aware that for the first time since the origins of humanity, the colossal disaster that he refused to admit 32 years ago is now nothing more than a simple scientific possibility.” .

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Between cumbias and vallenatos: this is how Gabo celebrated the Nobel Prize