MEXICO CITY — Hundreds of Mexicans bade farewell to late novelist Carlos Fuentes on Wednesday, carrying books and flowers as they filed past the casket of one of the Spanish-speaking world’s best-known writers.
During a public ceremony at the grand Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, President Felipe Calderon hailed Fuentes as “one of the greatest writers of all time.”
“He helped give global prominence to Latin-American literature,” the president said.
Standing in front of the casket next to Calderon were the writer’s widow Silvia Lemus and Cecilia, his only surviving child, born from his first marriage to actress Rita Macedo.
A crowd of people queued outside for a chance to file past the casket inside the palace. The novelist’s remains are then expected to be cremated.
Fuentes, the son of a diplomat who served as Mexico’s ambassador to Paris in 1975-1977, died in the Mexican capital Tuesday at age 83 after suffering a massive hemorrhage in his digestive tract.
A prolific Fuentes wrote more than 50 works — including novels, short stories, essays and plays.
He was a leading figure in the 1960s Latin American literature boom, befriending both Colombian leftist Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Peruvian conservative Mario Vargas Llosa.
Fuentes was also known for his use of experimental language.
Visibly shaken, Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard hailed his late friend, “who will always remain in the Mexican soul.”
“Fuentes was a great seducer who used only one weapon: the word,” said Federico Reyes Heroles, a writer who read a tribute message at the family’s request.
“Carlos embodied the idea of bringing Mexico into the world and the world to Mexico.”