Mexico bids farewell to adopted son, Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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Mexico bids farewell to adopted son, Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A yellow rose -- the favourite flower of Colombian 1982 Literature Nobel Prize laureate, Gabriel Garcia Marquez -- which he so often wore on his lapel for good luck, lies next to the urn containing his ashes, during a tribute paid to him at the Fine Arts Palace in Mexico City on April 21, 2014. Mexico bids farewell Monday to its favorite adoptive son, Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, with a national tribute filled with the late Nobel winner's favorite music and roses. Garcia Marquez, who died in Mexico City on Thursday aged 87, will be eulogized in the domed Bellas Artes Palace, a cultural centre where Mexico pays tributes to its late artistic icons. AFP PHOTO/RONALDO SCHEMIDT.

By: Yemeli Ortega

MEXICO CITY (AFP).- Mexico bid farewell Monday to its beloved adopted son, Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in a national tribute filled with the late Nobel laureate's favorite flowers and music.

A coffee-colored urn containing his ashes was placed on a podium, surrounded by yellow roses, in Mexico City's domed Fine Arts Palace as a string quartet played classical music.

Dozens of guests applauded when his widow, Mercedes Barcha, arrived dressed in black with their sons, Rodrigo and Gonzalo, at the cultural center, where Mexico pays tribute to its late artistic icons.

Hundreds of fans filed past the urn to pay their last respects to the author of "One Hundred Years of Solitude," taking pictures and short videos with their smartphones.

Some of the guests even danced as a three-piece vallenato band played folk songs from his native Colombia with an accordion, drum and guacharaca, a percussion instrument.

Known affectionately as "Gabo," Garcia Marquez died Thursday in the Mexico City house where he lived for decades with his wife and two sons. He was 87.

Visiting Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was to deliver remarks later with Mexican leader Enrique Pena Nieto.

"I want to thank him for the pleasure he gave me in reading books," said Joseline Lopez, a 21-year-old Venezuelan medical student who queued outside the palace.

"'One Hundred Years of Solitude' will survive 100 more years in our hearts," she said, clutching three yellow roses.

Garcia Marquez first moved to Mexico in 1961 and it was there that the veteran journalist wrote his seminal novel, a family and historical saga that was published in 1967.

He was a leading exponent of "magical realism," a style of story-telling that blends fantasy and realistic elements.

The cause of his death has not been disclosed but he died a week after a bout of pneumonia.

He 'loved' Mexico
The palace was decorated with the late writer's favorite flower, the yellow rose that he so often wore on his lapel for good luck.

Many mourners wore the rose as violins played Beethoven. A large portrait of Garcia Marquez hung on a wall.

The vallenato trio offered a performance to the crowd outside the palace. Then, people took turns reading pages from "One Hundred Years of Solitude."

"He loved this country. He was very grateful and felt as Mexican as any other person," Jaime Abello, director of the Ibero-American New Journalism Foundation founded by Garcia Marquez, told MVS Radio.

His biographer, British writer Gerald Martin, said he understood the secular nature of the ceremony because Garcia Marquez was not a religious man.

"But he was a man who respected other people's beliefs, like his mother," Martin told Colombia's Caracol radio.

"He joked that he didn't believe in God but feared him a lot," said the author of "Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Life."

His native Colombia will hold its own ceremony at Bogota's cathedral on Tuesday for the man Santos hailed as "the greatest Colombian of all time."

On Wednesday, to mark World Book Day, Colombians will have readings of Garcia Marquez's novel "No One Writes to the Colonel" in more than 1,000 libraries, parks and universities.

The family has not said where the author's final resting place will be but Colombia hopes his ashes will be divided between his homeland and Mexico.

His wife Barcha "says that it is a very difficult decision that will be taken in due time," said Rafael Tovar, president of Mexico's National Culture and Arts Council.

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

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