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Last updateFri, 07 Dec 2018 11am

Enrique Krauze: Tough historical analyst, something of a mystery for even hard probing foreigners

After the genius of (1990) Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz had stamped his homeland with brilliantly written, stunningly comprehensive national analyses, there came an expected cluster of criticism, clumsy and brutal, from former president (1970-1976) Luis Echeverria. Sadly for Mexico, that was accompanied by a much smaller, less well-known cluster of stunned writers and periodistas. These often seemingly wanted to merely couple their names regarding any matter with that of Octavio Paz, particularly once he died, April 19, 1998.

Recently, a series of brief stories by Braulio Peralta in the Jalisco newspaper, Milenio,  seems — to some readers — to fall into that category. The disappearance of Paz and his timely and unparalleled accomplishments, has encouraged often poorly-challenged and clearly lame criticisms.    

Paz had wanted “a quick and serene death.” A death like that of his grandfather, Don Ereno. But that, unkindly, wasn’t to be. A number of tragedies roughly harassed his later years. 

His second-in-command during the years of publishing the admirable literary magazines Plural and Vuelta was Enrique Krauze.

Krauze has written a lifetime of Spanish, of course. Much of that is aimed at being translated into English. Certainly, much of his work with Octavio Paz was moved into English. But often Enrique Krauze’s work, though it was written first in Spanish, was at birth meant to be translated into English. The huge and deeply useful “Mexico: Biography of Power,1810-1966,” for instance, was created to be transferred into English from the beginning. This was also true of his 2011 “Redeemers.” And many of his magazine pieces appeared first in foreign publications.

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Enrique Krause

Even in Spanish much of his style fits smoothly into English. In good part that is because Krause has been one of the few Latin American intellectuals whose work, from early on, has been carefully aimed at the foreign market. And early on he has implied that it has been useful that he began his career as an engineer. That his no-nonsense public career soon shifted to involving him in contributing heavily to Octavio Paz’s Plural, a cosmopolitan literary magazine. He fittingly moved smoothly with Paz when that author founded the magazine Vuelta.  

Among Paz’s many contributors were such highly applauded authors as Carlos Fuentes, Susan Sontag, Isaiah Berlin and Samuel Beckett. Of course, Krause himself was also a Vuelta contributor, as he was to his own magazine, Letra Libres. He also contributed to U.S. magazines and to outlets in Spain, and most of Latin America. That soon made him one of the very highly regarded intellectual writers in Mexico. 

Since his first publication, 35 years ago, of “Cultural Caudillos of the Mexican Revolution (1976),” Krause has written a wide swath of pressing and critical political analysis carefully targeting Mexico and the world.

Regarding what Mexicans see as the present Donald Trump-made world crisis, Krauze has said: “By 1994 we had become close neighbors, partners and even friends (with the United States). The two countries have jointly achieved many things and bilateral trade has increased by 556 percent. The governments of Mexico and the United States were hoping that healthy progress would continue, strengthening the North American free trade zone. Unfortunately, as on so many issues, the victory of Mr. Trump has changed all the rules. With Mexico, a new period of confrontation has arisen, not military but surely commercial, diplomatic, strategic, social and ethnic. Mr. Trump is essentially calling for a confrontation between the countries.” 

(This is the first of a series.)

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