Pedro Jorge Vera

Pedro Jorge Vera

Pedro Jorge Vera (Guayaquil, June 16, 1914 – Guayaquil, March 5, 1999) was an Ecuadorian journalist, novelist, short story writer, playwright, poet, university professor, and a politician from the Communist Party of Ecuador. He published and contributed to several controversial newspapers and magazines, such as “La Calle”, with the writer Alejandro Carrión, and “La Mañana”. He remained throughout his life a close friend of Cuban president Fidel Castro. Vera was the paternal uncle of Prima Ballerina Noralma Vera Arrata.

Awards and recognitions

  • Eugenio Espejo Award in Literature, conferred by Ecuador’s President in 1991.
  • In the city of Quito, a story contest was named in his honor.
  • Merit of Honor of the National Union of Journalists of Ecuador (UNP) in 1984.
  • The Félix Elmuza distinction, from the Union of Journalists of Cuba (UPEC).

Background

Pedro Jorge Vera was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on June 16, 1914, as the legitimate son of Alfredo R. Vera Benavídes and Leonor Vera Almendares.
His father was a lawyer born in Naranjal and raised in Guayaquil who rose to become Prosecutor of the Guayaquil Superior Court of Justice. His mother was also the granddaughter of the first director of the Guayaquil Municipal Library and the daughter of a lawyer, Dr. Pedro José Vera, who became a deputy. His paternal grandfather, Mr. Manuel María Vera, a philanthropist from from Manabí who lived in Naranjal, donated a gold and bronze cast bell to the church of Naranjal, which was brought from Switzerland. The town established a school that bears his name. When Manuel María died, the people of Naranjal honored him with a privilege that was only granted to Presidents of the Republic at the time, and he was buried inside the Naranjal church. Disregarding the wishes of the town, a Catholic priest with the surname Lasso ordered that the remains be removed from the church and buried elsewhere in 1970.

Political life

Pedro Jorge Veras affiliation with the Communist Party of Ecuador (PCE) defined both his political life and his work. As a member of said political party, he was a delegate to the 1944 Constituent Assembly, where he also served as Secretary General.

Journalistic career

Pedro Jorge Vera founded his first weekly with Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco. It was titled “España Leal” and supported the Republic, but he only managed to publish two issues of the magazine before he was taken prisoner. In 1958, Pedro Jorge Vera co-founded the magazine “La Calle” with Alejandro Carrión, through which he published articles critical of Ecuador’s dictatorial regime.

During a trip to Cuba in 1960, Vera met Che Guevara and had a private audience with him. Upon his return, he founded the left-wing magazine “La Mañana” and became Ecuador’s most ardent supporter of the Cuban Revolution. During the same year, he visited China and Russia with writer Jorge Icaza and painter Oswaldo Guayasamín. He interviewed Mao Tse Tung and Nikita Khrushchev before traveling to Prague and other European capitals. By the time he accepted his first university chair at Ecuador’s Central University, his ideology had evolved from communist to Marxist-Leninist.

After serving time in prison during the dictatorship of José María Velasco Ibarra, Vera founded the magazine “Ecuador 70” in 1970. In 1977, he published “El Pueblo soy yo” and the poem “Recado al Gran Viejo” based on his experiences during Velasco’s dictatorship. It concludes with the famous phrase “Alfaro Vive Carajo.”

Literary life

Pedro Jorge Vera’s first collection of poems, “Nuevo Itinerario,” was published in 1937. He traveled to Quito in 1938 and established the “General Publications Agency,” which published some of his works. His first story, “Hacia la escuela,” was published because José de la Cuadra thought it was excellent and recommended it to an editorial. When Joaquín Gallegos Lara died in 1947, Vera wrote a sonnet in his honor.

Exile and second marriage

During the dictatorship that began in 1963, Vera went into exile in Chile, where his first wife died of cancer. In 1964 he married the Guayaquil writer Eugenia Viteri Segura. Together they visited Pablo Neruda and Salvador Allende in their respective vacation homes. In that country he published two books until his return to Ecuador in 1966.

Death

Pedro Jorge Vera died of cancer, in his native Guayaquil, on March 5, 1999. His ashes were scattered in the Guayas River and thrown into the Pichincha volcano.

Works

Novels

  • Los animales puros (Buenos Aires, 1946)
  • El destino (Quito, 1953)
  • La semilla estéril (Quito, 1962)
  • Tiempo de muñecos (Quito, 1971)
  • El pueblo soy yo (Buenos Aires, 1976)
  • Las familias y los años (Madrid, 1982)
  • Por la plata baila el perro (Quito, 1987)
  • Este furioso mundo (Quito, 1992)
  • Narrativa escogida (Quito, 1995)
  • El cansancio de Dios (Quito, 1997)
  • El tiempo invariable (póstumo) (Quito, 2000)

Short stories

  • La guamoteña (México, 1947)
  • Luto eterno y otros relatos (Guayaquil, 1953)
  • Un ataúd abandonado (Quito, 1968)
  • Los mandamientos de la ley de Dios (Quito, 1972)
  • Cuentos escogidos (Guayaquil, 1976)
    • Der Applaus, in Ein neuer Name, ein fremdes Gesicht. 26 Erzählungen aus Lateinamerika. Sammlung Luchterhand, 834. Neuwied, 1987, 1989, p. 48-54
  • Jesús ha vuelto (Quito, 1978)
  • Nada más que cuentos (Quito, 1979)
  • ÁAh los militares! (Quito, 1985)
  • Cuentos duros (Quito, 1990)
  • La muerte siempre gana (Quito, 1995)
  • El asco y la esperanza y otros relatos, 1997
  • Doce cuentos de la historia (Quito, 1997)

Poetry

  • Mujer del mar (Guayaquil, 1930)
  • Nuevo itinerario: poemas (1934/1936) (Quito, 1937)
  • Romances madrugadores (Guayaquil, 1937)
  • Túnel iluminado (Quito, 1949)
  • Versos de hoy y de ayer (Guayaquil, 1979)

Theater

  • El dios de la selva (Quito, 1943)
  • Hamlet resuelve su duda (Quito, 1952)
  • Teatro (Quito, 1956)
  • La mano de Dios, Quito, 1956, incluye: La mano de Dios; Luto eterno; Los ardientes caminos; El Dios de la selva
  • Luto eterno (Quito, 1962)

Memoir

  • Gracias a la vida (Quito, 1993)

His work has been included in the following anthologies

  • Índice de la poesía ecuatoriana contemporánea (Santiago de Chile, 1937)
  • El nuevo relato ecuatoriano (Quito, 1951)
  • Cuentos hispanoamericanos (La Paz, 1957)
  • Antología del cuento hispanoamericano contemporáneo (Chile, 1958)
  • Gli migliore raccontos del mondo (Milán, 1961)
  • Antología de cuentistas hispanoamericanos (Barcelona, 1964)
  • Cuentos latinoamericanos (Lima, 1964)
  • Cuentos latinoamericanos modernos (Tel Aviv, 1964)
  • Invatati limba spaniola (Bucarest, 1966)
  • Cuentos antropófagos (México, 1972)
  • Narrativa andina (Lima, 1972)
  • Antología del relato ecuatoriano (Quito, 1973)
  • La violencia en el Ecuador (México, 1973)
  • Ecuador en el cuento (Buenos Aires, 1976)
  • Narradores latinoamericanos (Caracas, 1976)
  • Cuentos (La Habana, 1986)
  • Así en la tierra como en los sueños (Quito, 1991)
  • Cuento contigo (Guayaquil, 1993)
  • Poesía viva del Ecuador (Quito, 1998)
  • Antología básica del cuento ecuatoriano (Quito, 1998).

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