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28 - Latina Authors

In her time, Gabriela Mistral was admired and envied. In this episode, we will explore the good and the bad of Mistral’s thinking through her poetry, prose, and correspondence, which made her character and protagonist of the world scene in the first half of the 20th century.

The full bibliography can be found at the end of the transcript

Poem: Thirst by Gabriela Mistral

“All vessels are thirsty,” said the potter; “those we were talking about and those like mine, made of perishable clay. They were made like that, open, so that they can receive the dew of heaven, and also oh! so that their nectar can pour out quickly.

“And even when they are full to the brim, they are not content, because each despises the liquid in its bosom. The vessel for Falerno wine detests the acrid smell of the winepress. The vessel for perfumed oil hates its cloying thickness and envies the lightness of the vessel for clear water.

“And the vessels that hold blood live in despair because of the tenacious clot curdling inside them, which they cannot go wash away in the brooks. They are the most anguished of all. “To represent the longings of humankind, show the face alone with the lips half-opened in thirst, or simply make a vessel, which also is a thirsting mouth.”


Greeting dear listeners of Tres Cuentos, the podcast dedicated to the literary, historical, and traditional narratives of Latin America. I am Carolina Quiroga-Stultz, and we just heard a poem by Gabriela Mistral. And with the powerful poetry, prose, and thought of this enigmatic Chilean woman, we begin the series of Latina Authors.

It's been a few months since our last series. A lot of things have happened and changed in the world, and it seems it will continue like this for a while.

Today I hope that we rediscover and reflect on one of the most important poets in Latin America, the Chilean Gabriela Mistral. My goal is not to make a literary critique, but to let Gabriela speak through her poetry, prose, and correspondence. In her time, she was loved and hated. Interestingly, the animosity she generated in her time was not based on those things that I think make her so human and so contradictory, but on the banalities of bureaucracy.

The following prose was first published in a newspaper's editorial in Costa Rica in1951. It can be found in the digital book Selected Prose and Prose-Poems, Gabriela Mistral part of the Texas Pan American Literature in Translation Series, edited by Danny Anderson, and published by the University of Texas Press.

The next narrative will have the contribution of four male voices, Don Hymel, Antonio Rocha, Sam Payne and Simon Brooks. And I will tell you more about them when we get to the comments.

Gabriela Mistral, christened Lucila Godoy, lived in one of humanity's most complex, tragic, and revealing times. Her life and thought were a reflection of the contradictions and hatreds of that time, how difficult it is to be a woman in our patriarchal societies, the challenge of having independent opinions and what it means to declare peace in times of war.

The Forbidden Word

After the massacre of 1914–1918, the word “peace” leaped from mouths in an almost euphoric joy. The most nauseating smell ever known had dissipated from the air: the smell of blood, whether of cattle, of crushed insects, or of so-called “noble human blood.” Humankind is largely amnesic and has already forgotten, though the dead bodies cover hectares on the surface of unlucky Europe, which sacrificed almost everything and is now headed, if not toward taking it back, at least toward compromising what it gave.

One can work and create only in peace: this truth is patently obvious, but it dissolves when the ground turns brown with uniforms and reeks of the stench of infernal flames. This month, four letters arrived saying almost the same thing.

The first: “Gabriela, I suffered much damage because of an article, only one article, that I’d written about peace. I very quickly acquired the shady reputation of an agent-for-pay, a man for sale.”

I answer: “My friend, I well know what ‘getting thrown out’ means. I’ve suffered it after writing for a newspaper for twenty years, of having written there to keep alive the ‘little thread of the voice,’ the second umbilical cord that ties us to the mother, linking us to the land where we were born. The ‘big lie’ creates silenced and therefore desperate people. An enterprise of covert suffocation works day by day. It’s not only the honest journalist who has to bite his own (wise or incriminating) Tongue; if he addresses the incredible massacre of the Northeast, the writer of books also has to toss the books in a corner as something shameful, unless it is merely entertainment for bored readers.”

Another letter: “There is one topic that is forbidden, señora: peace. One may write about any shameful subject: about defending corruption; about bullfighting (the “fine fiesta” that Mother Spain exported to us); about the electoral “market” system of buying votes, which is distorting because of poverty. But one must not write about peace: the word is short, but it packs a punch or makes one fall flat on one’s face; one has to avoid that forbidden topic as one would avoid an electrical live wire …”

And still another says: “I don’t feel like writing about anything. World peace was my beloved object, my heart’s desire. Now war is the only ground we are allowed to cultivate; it’s also the code word for patriotism. But not to worry: the main thing that so-called ‘common’ people want is to be allowed to work, undisturbed, for their spouses and children. They have eyes; they can see. But their growing clear-sightedness doesn’t seem to matter much, and you should hear them when the radios try to heat their blood, to coax them toward the great slaughter.”

And this last letter: “Unlucky are those who still want to write or talk about that subject. And beware of the epithets that will eventually attach to you: accusations which, though they don’t actually kill, spoil a writer’s reputation and leave a stain forever. Your friends watch you from the corner of their eyes, so to speak.

“The word ‘peace’ is a forbidden term. You probably remember how the quotation goes: ‘My peace I leave you, my peace I give unto you.’ But Jesus Christ is out of fashion now, not something you carry with you. You are permitted to cry; you are a woman. I don’t cry; I feel a shame that burns my face. We have had a ‘League of Nations,’ and then a ‘United Nations’ to put an end to this human failure.

“Will they want us, closing our newspapers and our magazines, to talk like sleepwalkers out in the distance, over in the corner? Sometimes I shock myself, distractedly repeating the numbers of the corpses, six digits long.”

(None of my four correspondents is a Communist.)

I have little to add to this. Certainly, sending such a message constitutes a … “Message.” Everything said above is well said: we are educated, middleclass people, and these words have about them none of the biases of self accommodating or evil opinions—these passionate words, which are spreading all across our America. “Enough,” we say. “Enough slaughter.”

It’s wonderful that there are so many: in faithful Uruguay, in realist Chile, in literate Costa Rica. The “error” is becoming a “horror.”

There are some words that, when smothered, speak all the more, precisely because of suffocation and exile; and the word “peace” is surging even from people who have been deaf or indifferent.

Because, after all, Christians distributed through all the branches of Christianity, from Catholic through Quaker, must remember all of a sudden, like an ecstatic, that the most insistent word in the Gospels is precisely this word: this word excised from the newspapers, this word hidden in a corner, this monosyllable forbidden to us as if it were a dirty curse. It is the word par excellence that is present and repeated throughout the Holy Scripture as an obsession.

We must keep calling it out every day, so that something from the holy obligation may float up, even if it be only like a meager cork on the stream of the prevailing paganism.

Have courage, my friends. Pacifism isn’t the sweet confection that some might think it; vital conviction impresses a courage on us, so that we can’t stay still. Let us say it wherever we are, wherever we go, until it generates a body and creates a “militancy for peace” to fill the filthy, crowded air and starts to purify it.

Keep saying it out loud, against the wind and the tide, even if you go friendless for three years. Rejection is difficult; loneliness often produces something like the buzz in your ears when you descend into a cave … or a catacomb. It doesn’t matter, my friends: we must go on!


All right, dear listeners, for those of you who knew Gabriela as a poet, maternal figure and educator, Nobel prize in literature in 1945, you already realized that she was much more than that. Before we traveled back in time to de-mystify the sanctity of the poet; to meet or recognize the Gabriela who knew how to be character and protagonist on the world stage in the 20th century; I want briefly to thank the four male voices who contributed to this episode in order of appearance.

From left to right: Don Hymel, Antonio Rocha, Sam Payne, Simon Brooks.

Don Hymel: is twice retired. Now that he does not have a "day job" anymore, he spends his time teaching, making music, acting in voice and visual performances, and writing.

Antonio Rocha: originally from Brazil, lives in the US. He has more than 30 years as a performing artist with a passion for stories that united us. His unique fusion of mime and spoken word has taken him from Singapore to South Africa, pretty much to every continent.

Sam Payne: is a live performer, storyteller, musician, producer, author, and the radio host of the program The Apple Seed. He has toured through Canada, Bulgaria and Tokyo and he works as a storytelling fellow at the Weaver State University.

Finally, British storyteller, humorist and raconteur Simon Brooks has been performing to audiences from all over the world for over 30 years. Part of his mission is to show the power (and need) of the 'ancient stories' of folk and fairy tales, myths, and legends.

You can find more information about our guests on our website

The last announcement I would like to make is about a new program I launched on YouTube, and Instagram called StoryTEEPS, telling engaging, effective, and powerful stories! Where you can find strategies and interviews with storytellers, authors, artists that I hope will be of use to those who teach, tell stories, or simply want to improve their narrative techniques. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel Carolina Storyteller.


Let us then begin to meet and recognize Gabriela Mistral, with one of her poems, “The Pineapple,” written in 1926.

“She has always been rooted, an inhabiter of the earth. She does not know the fragility of a dangling golden pear; she settled into the ground for six weeks, feeling the earth gentle and strong. Not even battle helmets carry plumage powerful as hers. A warrior fruit scarred like the chest of an Amazon. And contained in this concise capsule, the whiff of a scent that can perfume a field. “I’m made that way,” she says, “like the Iliad, covered with hard mail plates, then suddenly opening, sweetly, in lines about Helen of Troy.”

For me, this poem perfectly reflects Gabriela, a woman of the land, who preferred the mountain to the sea -- a warrior who knew early that she must be vigilant of the scathing words of men, as she claimed, “Make the journey of life armed. The world is a battlefield where everyone fights, only the imbeciles rest. Fear more the man than the bloodiest beast [...] The latter would only tear your flesh apart, whereas the man would tear apart your honor, your fame, and your dignity.”

Gabriela Mistral was a woman who made peace with her difference and carried her scars with dignity, full of sweetness, and some bitterness. Like a fruit of hard skin, juicy center, she was a product of her beloved, and at the same time distant, Chilean land. She was sometimes too complex to understand, but easy to love in her lyrics. In her words: “I am a dove, and I am fierce. I can coo and roar. I am modest and arrogant. I know how to admire greatness, but only those cynical greatnesses that I believe in: virtue and intelligence.”

Christened with a different name and surname, the poet chose the name by which fame would recognize her, as she said: What if I had another name? Yes, I had two: the one I was given (Lucila Godoy) and the one who I stubbornly gave myself (Gabriela Mistral). And the new one killed the old one: one in me I killed, I did not love her.

It is unknown whether the name change manifested a desire to make a blur and new account, but the truth is that both Lucila and Gabriela were forever the objects of admiration and envy. And she was aware of it, sometimes seemed to enjoy and feed into it, in her words, “I am proud to inspire attacks and hatreds. Inspiring contempt would grieve me. I have a shell that makes impossible every mortal blow directed at me by slander and evil: my aloof, indomitable, unchanging character. I speak in my songs to those who know the language in which they come: let them understand me!”

Some have said that Mistral had a somewhat paranoid character, due to the attacks of opponents and the troubles of her own life. But I mean, who does not end up having paranoia in a world built by men and for men; in such turbulent, bloody, fascist, sexist and racist times in which she lived, that is, the first part of the twentieth century? Today it seems that we are repeating the same tragedies and misunderstandings, thus paranoia is running free again.


The scholar Licia Fiol Matta points out in her book A Queer Mother for the Nation that part of the confusion surrounding Gabriela's figure is that her place in Latin American letters was justified only under the national status of a schoolteacher and mother. The author says that after the poet's death, she and her work were partly forgotten because her poetry had a sentimental air that, for many, only spoke of mothers and children.

Yet we have seen, in several of the poet’s reflections, her defiant and critical character. I dare to say that it may also be a reason why more than one person turned a back on Gabriela. Thus, if her poetry was labeled sentimental, in a progressive world, no one would take a second look at her body of work, prose, essays, and correspondence, that expressed her real thoughts. Those thoughts that said, “I confess the sin of speaking without prudence, covering the mouths of those who have much to say to me.”

As we dig more into her past, we find that from an early age, controversy surrounded her. Interestingly, although Mistral started as a rural teacher, part of the antagonism she received was due to her lack of a degree. Unlike the other educators, she could not attend a school, and this was a pain in the neck for many. In her words: “They stone me for entering a school to teach without having gone through a school where all teachers must be manufactured by state law. I came from somewhere else. I came from my heart. [...] And then I came from a life of study, from self-studying. I did not go to school because I was born poor. But if I started life again, now that I know, I would not go through that big door, behind which science and art are mummified, and life is not there. I would ignore it, and this time consciously.”

This reminds me of the still recent scandal of certain celebrities accused of paying off large sums so their children could enter renowned universities. I think there are so many people who, with infinite financial resources, attend universities, but not because of an interest in learning or with a desire to improve their lives. And yet how many others are drowning in student loans and others cannot even dream of attending college.


Now let’s talk about her feminist opinion that overtime seemed to become more conservative.

Early in her writing career, Gabriela showed her feminist side, which, like everything else, eventually changed. First, let us listen to what the poet wrote in 1905 when she was 16 years old: “The education of women is a great work that carries in itself the complete reform of an entire sex. Because the educated woman ceases to be that ridiculous fanatic who attracts on her only mockery; because she ceases to be that boring wife who to maintain conjugal love counts only with her physical beauty and ends up filling that life in which contemplation ends. [...] It has been said that women do not need an education. And there are still those who see in her a being able only to rule the home [...] You will have in the beautiful educated sex, less miserable, less fanatical, and fewer null women.”

I think her youth thinking is probably what led her to be so emphatical and radical regarding women's education. But as she entered adulthood, gained recognition, and learned about the new political discourses that regarded women as economic and social agents on a political agenda of isms (doctrines), her position adjusted to those circumstances.

Licia Fiol Matta tells us that "Mistral created a public discourse that supported a conservative role for women within the state, but her private life deviated significantly from the state prescription." It is possible the poet’s way of thinking changed after her trip to Mexico and being exposed to the patriotic doctrines that were spreading throughout the early twentieth century.

Gabriela says in her book Lecturas para Mujeres (Readings for Women), published in 1924 when she was 35, “In my opinion, perfect patriotism in women is ideal motherhood.” According to this, the most patriotic education given to women is, therefore, the one that accentuates the sense of family.

With this statement, it seems that the poet contradicts herself, first advocating for the education of women in her youth, so that they may end up being mothers in their adulthood. The truth is that it was already fashionable, the matter of finding a husband in college.

Another element where Gabriela seems to contradict herself is that, to her, motherhood makes a woman whole, but if we take a look at her life, she did not integrate into the typical archetype of the family: that is father, mother, and children. However, we must clarify that, in her way, she became a mother when she adopted and raised the young Juan Miguel Godoy Mendoza.

The author Licia Fiol Matta continues to say that Gabriela's position changed strategically during her life, making it difficult to know with certainty how she felt about different topics, in so showing an ambivalent character.

Gabriela’s example resembles many other people, whose youth was rebellious and outspoken but as they grow old they become more fearful and conservative.


Now, let's talk about the banners with which Mistral was associated.

Mistral was considered an advocate for the defenseless, women, children, mestizos (mixed race), and indigenous people. Let us first hear her poem "Thrown Out”:

“My father said he would throw me out, yelled at my mother that he would throw me out tonight. The night is lukewarm; by the clarity of the stars, I could walk to the nearest village; but what if he is born at this hour? My sobs have called him perhaps; maybe he wants to come out to see my face in tears. And he would shiver in the raw air, even if I covered him.”

After including this short poem and similar others in the book Desolation, Gabriela was harshly criticized for her defense of women who did not fit within the patriarchal mold of what is to be a chaste female.

Still, she replied: “One afternoon, walking down a street in Temuco, I saw a woman from the village, sitting at the door of her shack. She was close to motherhood, and her face revealed a deep affliction. A man passed by and said a crude remark, which made her blush. At that moment I felt all the solidarity of my sex, the infinite compassion of women for women, and I walked away thinking: "It is up to one of us women to say (since men have not said it) to speak of the holiness of this painful and divine state. If the mission of art is to show the beautify of everything, in immense mercy, why have we not revealed, for the eyes of the impure, the purity of this?

And so, I wrote the preceding poems, with an almost religious intent. Some of those women who, to be chaste, need to close their eyes on a cruel but fatal reality, made ruinous comments about these poems, which saddened me for their sakes. They even insinuated to removed them from the book. [...]. Should I remove them? No! Here they stay [...]”

Gabriela’s reflection and stand make sense to me, I say we need to educate women, so fewer unwanted pregnancies happen, so we develop solidarity for our gender and in such debunking comments such as: “Well, she was looking for it!” Or, “When the man proposes, the woman disposes!” Or, “When a woman says no, she means yes!”


Let us continue by taking a look at the beginnings of her thinking about the situation of the indigenous people. When Gabriela was around the age of 30, she wrote the following text that you can find in the book Bendita sea mi Lengua, (Blessed be my Tongue) compiled by Jaime Quesada, in the “Notebook of Magallanes and Temuco (1918-1920).”

“In reflecting about what the land means to the Indian man, it must be understood that what for us is a part of our goods, a slice of our many enjoyments, is for the Indian his alpha and his omega, the seat of men and of gods [..] These emotions are braided in the Indian's deep passion for the earth. We people disturbed and corrupted by industry; us, descendants of Spaniards apathetic towards cultivation; insensitive of all insensitivity to the landscape, and Christian spectators instead of pagans coexisting with it, we will never reach the essence of the indigenous love for the land, which must be studied […] [The indigenous people] lost [...] the many virtues they had in terms of the clan [...] They dropped the taste of the crop, abandoned the loyalty to the tribe, which derived from the farming community, forgot the love of the family [...], and once the grower, the head of the family and the priest or the believer were slowly re-entering the barbarity - entering, I would say, because they were not the pure barbarity that the pillagers have painted for us. After finishing our robbery, we have set about washing with bleach the exploitation, until we left it looking like white flour. To steal from savages is to serve the will of a god, who would have had a Caucasian will.”

Later, after her trip to Mexico in 1922, invited by José Vasconcelos on a cultural mission to combat illiteracy, Gabriela wrote the essay "The Type of American Indian." I will read just a short extract, but I copied the link to the full text in the bibliography of this episode.

“One of the reasons for the native repugnance to confess the Indian in our blood, one of the origins of our fear of telling the world that we are loyally mestizos, is the so-called ugliness of the Indian. We hold this as an irrefutable truth; we have accepted without question. It goes hand in hand with such phrases as ‘The Indian is lazy,’ and ‘the Indian is evil.’

[...] We should have taught our children about the differentiated and opposed beauty of the races. A long and slender eye is beautiful in the Mongolian, while in the Caucasian, it debases the face. The yellowish color, ranging in shade from straw to sheepskin, accentuates the delicate nature of the Chinese face. In the European it suggests sanguine misery. Curly hair is a glorious crown on the head of the Caucasian; in the mestizo, it hints at mulataje, and we prefer the flat locks of the Indian.

Instead of educating our children in observing and interpreting, our biased teachers have taught them a unique type of beauty, the Caucasian, outside of which there is no appeal, a beauty fixed for the centuries by the Greek race through Fidias.

In every attribute of beauty that teachers teach us, they give us precisely the repudiation of our traits; in what they make us praise, they suggest the shame of our bones or our skin. This is how men and women are formed with disgust of their own skin; thus, the sense of inferiority from which our race is invisibly poisoned, and therefore our people become vile by suggesting that to flee to the other race is the only salvation.”

However, before you rise to applaud Gabriela's indigenous vision, I must suggest that you read the full text and take into account that she was of the same opinion of Vasconcelos himself; who, in writing the “Cosmic Race,” praised our mestizo (mixed race), but with eugenicist tints. In which Afro-descendants were doomed to disappear, through a selective social filter.

We are told by Licia Fiol Matta that “Gabriela represented the pedagogical image of the Indian and the mestizo.” As a result, this image entered the curriculum of schools in Latin America.

This discourse and many others may have contributed to the fact that in certain Latin American countries, they praise themselves of the indigenous past that existed in their geographies, claiming the characteristics of bravery and genius of the ancestors. But at the same time, they make a considerable effort to privatize the land and the natural resources, become capitalists, white, and modern. That is to keep up with those who they want to be.

I wonder, then, how far should we claim to be heirs of the great indigenous past?

For how long should we call ourselves mestizos? This, of course, is a debate for another episode. In the meantime, let us briefly hear an excerpt of the “Cosmic Race” the text written by Vasconcelos:

“The low types of the species will be absorbed by the superior type. In this way, for example, the Black man would be able to redeem himself, and, little by little through voluntary extinction, the uglier races will pave the way for the most beautiful. The inferior races, through education, will become less prolific, and the best specimens will ascend on a scale of ethnic improvement. On this scale, the uppermost type is not the white man, but a new race, to which the white man will also have to aspire for the synthesis to be achieved. The Indian, by being grafted onto a race, which with he has affinities, will take the leap over the million-year gap that separates Atlantis from our time. In a few decades of aesthetic eugenics, the black man will disappear, along with the types that the free instinct of beauty signals as fundamentally recessive and, for that reason, unworthy of survival. In this way a process of selection by taste, will take place. It will be much more efficient than the brutal Darwinist criterion of selection, which may be relevant, at best, to inferior species, but no to man.”

Indeed, my dear listeners, the way of thinking of these intellectuals, reflect the trends of their times; just remember the Nazi's experiments. Do not forget that Gabriela lived during the two world wars, the birth of communism, fascism, and lived well into the Cold War. These beliefs do not excuse the racism against Afro-descendants, and the desire to build the ideal man through eugenics and hygienic methods; however, it explains how their words and thought still permeate our idiosyncrasies and conversations, and why we need a new way of thinking, inclusive, diverse, and tolerant. It is time to say goodbye to the old attitudes and approaches that had only brought pain, discontent, misunderstanding and hate.

Finally, Vasconcelos states that black people in Latin America have been transformed into mulattos (mixed with white). In this way, suggesting that, in subsequent generations, if the appropriate mestizaje or mix continues, they will be completely assimilated and improved. I wonder how many Latin nations still claim to have no Afro-descendants? Or how many people call themselves white? Even though it is evident that they have not looked carefully at themselves in the mirror..


With everything we have heard about Gabriela Mistral's thinking – the good, the bad, and the ugly-- we could say that she was a woman of opinions, perhaps political ones. Although, that word to her was the antonym of peace.

In her time, despite what we have heard in this episode, Gabriela Mistral represented a figure of peace, agreement, and diplomacy. She called herself "the phenomenon of a woman without a political party." Despite her efforts to distance herself from politics, she was not exempt from participating in it. After all, she was the Chilean consul in different parts of the world during the early part of the 20th century, when radical policies were taken to a global scale. In the following text, we see how reluctant Gabriela felt about being considered a political figure for her social ideas.

“My position in favor of peace does not come from a political party, for I do not belong to any of them. My moral position as a pacifist is the normal reaction that the war raises in a woman, and particularly in a former teacher, and in a Hispanic-American who knows the scarcity of our resources and also knows that our government's aspirations are to diminish our democracy, which because it was born just yesterday, cannot be mature. [...] My reluctance to political extremism has not changed; on the contrary, it clings more to the old concept that the politics of the two absolutes, the ultra-traditionalist and the futuristic, damage our Creole America from North to South and waste our time in a sort of equatorial fever.”

[...] The conservative and the communist are for me plain and simple ‘Chilean citizens’ […] More than one person has reproached me for my ‘selfish and lazy’ withdrawal from politics. I tell them: I am so sorry I cannot please you; I have a real lack of political temperament.”

Whether or not she had a political temper, Gabriela had opinions about almost everything. She cried when Augusto César Sandino died after leading a rebellion in Nicaragua against the military occupation of the United States between 1927 and 1933. She protested the dictatorships that infected the Americas when she said: “I am fed up with governments of generals in the pacific, the poor, the unhappy America, full of hunger, of plagues, of disorder, and all of it ruled by them, from Peru to Cuba. I'm sorry to see that the Chileans don't have a different super-man than the general. It's unfortunate to see your homeland fallen into a tribe mentality. Chile has forgotten its terrible experience. Those times of the military government!”

This woman who preferred to be left out of political affairs still proposed to help Spanish refugees during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco between 1936-1975.

“My minister tells me that he finds appropriate my idea of doing something about it bringing to Americas the scholars who are in danger in Spain, to which they may be at this time, and especially the ones who will be if the advance of the rebels continues (yesterday Irun fell, and hopes are broken). [...] I see a press campaign of the Spanish refugees has begun. It is quite possible they will not win it. What makes me more astonished about Franco is that his military-Catholic conscience has simply accepted to have in exile some four hundred thousand Spaniards. No other country has ever done so.


If after all that Gabriela has told us, you feel that she does not remind you of any woman in your life, stubborn and sensitive, adelid and sympathizer, a hermit but sociable, feminist but conservative; with a specific condition of selective racism, but generous with the defenseless, then perhaps you should give it a second thought.

To me, Mistral reminds me of relatives, aunts, neighbors, friends, and family members, whom I appreciate, but with whom I have fundamental differences. Because the truth is that every human being is a handful of contradictions, but there is merit in the desire to learn and the willingness to reflect with an open heart. I say let’s not fool ourselves; the truth is that no one knows anyone completely, as Gabriela noted it:

“They know me, but not really... I am the phenomenon of a woman without a political party. I, therefore, have no political comrades to watch over me. I have desired and, to this day realized, the absurd but absolute fact, of living party fasting, as free, and as alone as the loneliest bird and more helpless at the same time. I think it is the only way I do not have a clan to govern me. But I have kept the love for the poor man, a doctrine that looks only at independence, to judge the facts of the world without dictations that signify orders of reds or blacks.

Very well, dear listeners, with this statement of political independence, we end today's program. In our next episode of Latina Authors, we will meet another teacher who did not silence the social injustices that surrounded her, a woman with a sharp tongue and a sarcastic thought, the fabulous Costa Rican Carmen Lyra. Until the next story, adios, adios.


  1. Selected Prose and Prose-Poems, Gabriela Mistral. (Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture; Texas Pan American Literature in Translation Series, Danny Anderson, Editor). University of Texas Press. Kindle Edition.

  2. A Queer Mother for the Nation. The State and Gabriela Mistral by Licia Fiol-Matta. Published by University of Minnesota Press. Minneapolis. 2002.

  3. Bendita sea mi Lengua, Gabriela Mistral. Diario Íntimo (Spanish Edition). Editorial Catalonia. Kindle Edition.

  4. Madwomen. The Locas Mujeres Poems of Gabriela Mistral. A bilingual Edition Edited and Translated by Randall Couch. The University of Chicago Press.

  5. “El Tipo del Indio Americano” Gabriela Mistral. Url:

  6. “La Raza Cósmica. Misión de la raza iberoamericana” José Vasconcelos. Url:

  7. Lectura para Mujeres. Destinadas a la Enseñanza del Lenguaje. Gabriela Mistral. México. 1924


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