The renovated house of Gabriel Garcia Marquez is due to open in February but bears little resemblance to his original birthplace, claim frustrated visitors and town residents.
At a first glance, the house in the Colombian Caribbean town of Aracataca where author and Nobel laureate Garcia Marquez was born looks like a mansion belonging to an affluent political chief. For the local population the reconstruction work has taken an astonishingly short time, with results which bear little resemblance to the humble original dwelling.
Though the house was declared a national monument in 1996, renovation work only began in 2006 and according to Rafael Dario Jimenez, a former cultural coordinator of the house, “the place was in ruins. 16 years ago, Colcultura sent resources for renovation, but it was badly done: rotted wood was used and the facilities were smaller in relation to the original plans.”
A budget of COP1,200 million was allocated to the reconstruction project, of which some COP760 million has already been spent, reported newspaper El Heraldo Monday.
Today, the house is undeniably splendid, but bears little resemblance to the original building. However, the new building claims to have a larger number of supporters than opposers – though the displeasure of the latter has been widely reported in the media.
Nicolas Arias, a cousin of Garcia Marquez’s mother. rejected the new appearance of the house, stating “they have spent nearly one billion to erect a building that does not honor his past at all. We advised that wood from houses of the era be used in the restoration, but they took no notice of us.”
For his part, the mayor of Aracataca, Marcos Maria Fossi claimed “I do not understand the criticism. It was a work supervised by the family [or Garcia Marquez] and many others. Why complain about its appearance now?”
The University of Magdalena is responsible for the renovation of the house, which is expected to open to the public at the beginning of February this year and to attract a large number of tourists to the region.