Arturo Uslar Pietri
Politician and Writer
Arturo Uslar Pietri was a renowned Venezuelan writer and politician. Born in Caracas in 1906, his interest in politics and literature began at an early age with examples of his work present in Venezuelan newspapers from 1922. He attended the Universidad Central De Venezuela, studying at the Faculty of Law and after graduating he formed the Avant Garde Valve Magazine with Fernando Paz Castillo and Miguel Otero Silva in 1928. To avoid the fate of imprisonment, which many other young writers were enduring due to protests against the Gomez regime, Mr Pietri began working at the Venezuelan embassy in Paris. He returned to Caracas in 1934 to continue his literary pursuits and to embark on his own political career. He served as the Education Minister from 1939 to 1941, as well as the Finance Minister in 1943 and the Interior Minister in 1945. He also held the position of Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic from 1941 to 1943 and was elected Deputy to the Legislative Assembly in 1944. Over a number of years he was also a regular contributor to the newspaper El Nacional. He also held many academic positions during his career, including Professor of Political Economy at Universidad Central de Venezuela and Professor of Spanish American Literature at Columbia University. His protest against political corruption in Spain led to his forced exile to New York in 1945. It was, however, during this time that he published the novel ‘The Road to El Dorado’ and the storybook ‘Thirty Men and Their Shadows’. Upon his return to Venezuela he served as Senator in Congress and later, unsuccessfully, launched a campaign to be President of the Republic in 1963. From 1975 to 1979 Mr Uslar Pietri served as the Venezuelan Ambassador for UNESCO. Over the subsequent years he devoted himself to his literature and in 1980 he published a collection of short stories, including what would become his most renowned pieces of literature; ‘Robinson Crusoe Island’ and ‘Visit in Time.’ The success and popularity of these two novels won Mr Uslar Pietri numerous literary awards and an increased international audience.