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Luis Alejandro Velasco

Birth
Colombia
Death
2 Aug 2000
Colombia
Burial
Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea. Specifically: Mr. Velasco's family pledged to fulfill his last wish: to scatter his ashes over the sea that gave him his life back 45 years ago. Add to Map
Memorial ID
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Luis Alejandro Velasco, the shipwrecked sailor who was the mam character in the slim volume that confirmed Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez's reputation as a journalist and launched his career as a book writer, died Aug. 2 in Bogota, Colombia, of cancer at age 66. In announcing his death from cancer, Mr. Velasco's family pledged to fulfill his last wish: to scatter his ashes over the sea that gave him his life back 45 years ago. Mr. Velasco became a celebrity when he appeared barely alive on a beach in northern Colombia on March 10, 1955. He and seven shipmates had been reported missing after they were thrown off the deck of the Colombian navy destroyer Caldas in a Caribbean storm 10 days earlier. Search parties had given up hope of finding any survivors a week before Velasco washed up on shore. As it turned out, there had been no storm:in fact, the destroyer had been carrying so much contraband on its deck that when the eight sailors were thrown overboard after a sharp turn, the ship could not maneuver well enough to rescue them.
A month later, the respected newspaper El Espectador began publishing a series of articles based on the adventure that the young sailor recounted to 27-year-old reporter Garcia Marquez during 20 six-hour interviews.

Thus began what the writer called "The story of a shipwrecked sailor who was lost for 10 days on a raft without eating or drinking, who was proclaimed a hero of the fatherland, kissed by beauty queens and made rich by publicity and later rejected by the government and forgotten forever." The title is usually shortened to "The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor."
Velasco, as Garcia Marquez noted, was forgotten. He was forced out of the navy and worked for a bus company and as a buyer for a factory.
"Life," Garcia Marquez once wrote of Velasco, "has left him the serene aura of a hero who had the courage to dynamite his own statue."
Luis Alejandro Velasco, the shipwrecked sailor who was the mam character in the slim volume that confirmed Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez's reputation as a journalist and launched his career as a book writer, died Aug. 2 in Bogota, Colombia, of cancer at age 66. In announcing his death from cancer, Mr. Velasco's family pledged to fulfill his last wish: to scatter his ashes over the sea that gave him his life back 45 years ago. Mr. Velasco became a celebrity when he appeared barely alive on a beach in northern Colombia on March 10, 1955. He and seven shipmates had been reported missing after they were thrown off the deck of the Colombian navy destroyer Caldas in a Caribbean storm 10 days earlier. Search parties had given up hope of finding any survivors a week before Velasco washed up on shore. As it turned out, there had been no storm:in fact, the destroyer had been carrying so much contraband on its deck that when the eight sailors were thrown overboard after a sharp turn, the ship could not maneuver well enough to rescue them.
A month later, the respected newspaper El Espectador began publishing a series of articles based on the adventure that the young sailor recounted to 27-year-old reporter Garcia Marquez during 20 six-hour interviews.

Thus began what the writer called "The story of a shipwrecked sailor who was lost for 10 days on a raft without eating or drinking, who was proclaimed a hero of the fatherland, kissed by beauty queens and made rich by publicity and later rejected by the government and forgotten forever." The title is usually shortened to "The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor."
Velasco, as Garcia Marquez noted, was forgotten. He was forced out of the navy and worked for a bus company and as a buyer for a factory.
"Life," Garcia Marquez once wrote of Velasco, "has left him the serene aura of a hero who had the courage to dynamite his own statue."

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