Leopoldo Castedo.
 
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December 2000

Leopoldo Castedo:
History And Culture's Discoverer

His interest for our country's history, costumes and culture earned him, in 1948, the Chilean nationality. He was a man who shared his dreams, work and friendship with people like Federico Garcia Lorca, Ortega y Gasset, Violeta Parra, Francisco Encina and Gonzalo Rojas, among others.

A "transcast" is how Leopoldo Castedo called himself in his memoirs. The Spanish historian arrived to Chile in 1939 on the legendary "Winnipeg", a ship of Spanish refugees organized by Pablo Neruda.

He was born in Madrid in 1915, but said he was born-again, at the same place, when he turned 21, after a serious accident he suffered during the Spanish Civil War.

His interest for our country's history, costumes and culture earned him, in 1948, the Chilean nationality. He was a man who shared his dreams, work and friendship with people like Federico Garcia Lorca, Ortega y Gasset, Violeta Parra, Francisco Encina and Gonzalo Rojas, among others.

He died during a trip back to Spain. In that country the Casa de las Americas, organized a tribute for his big contribution to Ibero American culture. A year after his death, Spanish Cultural Center and the Spanish International Cooperation Agency published a biographical review and a classified bibliography about his work, which we now have the honor of printing:

To be born three times
"I was born in Madrid, on a September day of 1936, turned 21 in a mansion of the Salamanca neighborhood that we had transformed (...) into a hand grenade factory. The dynamite and submachine gun were on the basement, where more than once I saw somebody smoking. War had begun on the fatal July 18th. Actually, that may have been my second birth", Castedo remembers in his memoirs.

The building exploded and the historian survived, though under 13 feet of garbage. Afterwards, he re-entered the fight as a reporter for "La Vanguardia", also collaborating with a Propaganda Office. While working there he met Pablo Neruda, who made the necessary contacts to bring him to Chile. While arranging the papers for the trip, he was questioned for not being part of any political party and not having documents that would prove he was a political refugee. "My government had an interest for Castedo coming to Chile. Besides being a war victim (...), he has published in Spain articles about my country and studied Chilean and American History at the University", said Neruda.

When arriving in Chile he found right away a job at National Library, where he met Francisco Encina with whom he worked on a book about Chile's history. From there on his work as investigator, historian, academic and audiovisual documentary-maker didn't stop.


In 1997 he suffered from a lung cancer of which he recovered after exhausting medical treatments. He said this was his third birth.

 
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