At a ceremony in Mexico City's majestic Fine Arts Palace, Fuentes was hailed as a most Mexican man of letters whose writings gained worldwide respect while helping his compatriots see themselves more clearly.
"It would be difficult to understand ourselves without Carlos Fuentes," said Consuelo Saizar, president of Mexico's culture and arts council. "His books form part of the Mexican cultural landscape.... He fine-tuned our gaze and taught us to spell 'nation.' "
President Felipe Calderon, First Lady Margarita Zavala, Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard and prominent writers and artists were present as Fuentes’ casket was carried into the domed, century-old cultural center, an emblem of Mexican identity in the heart of the capital.
People lined barriers along nearby streets as the black hearse arrived for the midday tribute, which was televised live.
The night before, Calderon and other mourners visited Fuentes’ home in the capital to pay final respects.
Fuentes, 83, died in a Mexico City hospital Tuesday after suffering massive internal bleeding that doctors attributed to an ulcer likely caused by frequent aspirin use.
Fuentes will be most remembered by foreign audiences for novels such as “The Death of Artemio Cruz,” “Aura” and “The Old Gringo,” which was later made into a movie starring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda. But those works represent a fraction of the dozens of novels, short stories, screenplays and essays he produced during a prolific career.
He remained a workhorse until the end, keeping a disciplined writing routine that allowed him to finish novel after novel, with time left over to weigh in on current affairs through opinion pieces in Mexican newspapers and often-scalding public comments aimed at politicians.
“Carlos Fuentes will live in his works, his word, in various generations of Mexicans,” Calderon said. “Carlos Fuentes has died to be loved even more. May he rest in peace.”
-- Ken Ellingwood
Photo: The coffin of Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes arrives at the Fine Arts Palace in Mexico City. Credit: Alex Cruz / European Pressphoto Agency