(Updates with comments from Mexican and Colombian presidents,
By Lizbeth Diaz
MEXICO CITY, April 21 Fans and family paid their
last respects to much-loved Colombian author Gabriel Garcia
Marquez on Monday, leaving flowers and playing music in a
colorful remembrance of the Nobel laureate and giant of Latin
Hundreds thronged outside Mexico City's Palace of Fine Arts,
a domed jewel of early 20th century architecture, to lay
bouquets and see the urn containing the ashes of the pioneer of
magical realism and author of "One Hundred Years of Solitude".
Garcia Marquez died in Mexico on Thursday, at age 87.
Mourners used umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun as
they bade farewell to Garcia Marquez, who was known to friends
and fans alike as "Gabo", while some struck up music, playing on
tambourines and maracas.
Inside, a few guests cried out "Gabo" as the author's ashes
entered in a box into the Palace of Fine Arts, where Mexican
President Enrique Pena Nieto and his Colombian counterpart, Juan
Manuel Santos, gave thanks for his life as evening fell.
"A great, really great man has left us," Pena Nieto said.
"But his work remains with us."
Colombia is due to hold a separate memorial on Tuesday, and
Santos said Garcia Marquez had achieved "eternal glory."
"More than simply the Colombian, he brought to his works the
very essence of the Latin American being," he said.
After the presidents spoke, thousands of yellow paper
butterflies blew out of the columned entrance of the palace into
the night sky, harking back to a character from "One Hundred
Years of Solitude" who is followed by the winged insects.
LOVE OF LITERATURE
Fellow authors lavished praise on the 1982 Nobel Prize
winner Garcia Marquez after his death, and political leaders
across the world were quick to pay their respects.
The works of the author, whose smiling face beamed out from
posters on the walls of the Palace of Fine Arts, have sold in
the tens of millions, captivating highbrow literary critics and
tapping into the region's everyday myth making.
"He awakened in me a love of literature and he will always
be unique for me because he marked my life," said Monserrat
Paredes, a 27-year-old biologist carrying a bouquet of yellow
roses, Garcia Marquez's favorite. "His genius didn't make him
immortal, although he is for me," she said in tears.
Monica Arrisson, a 55-year-old math teacher visiting Mexico
City from the northern state of Chihuahua, said Garcia Marquez
was "the biggest there was in Latin America."
Though he wrote stories, essays and short novels in the
1950s and early 1960s, he did not find fame until "One Hundred
Years of Solitude" was published in 1967. Late Mexican author
Carlos Fuentes dubbed it "Latin America's Don Quixote."
The novel tells the story of seven generations of the
Buendia family in the fictional village of Macondo, based on the
Colombian town of Aracataca, where Garcia Marquez was born.
Combining miraculous and supernatural events with details of
everyday life, Garcia Marquez used the novel to explore the
political landscape of Latin America. It sold more than 30
million copies and helped fuel a boom in Latin American fiction.
He followed his best-known novel with other major works
including "Autumn of the Patriarch," "Love in the Time of
Cholera" and "Chronicle of a Death Foretold."
(Additional reporting by Tomas Sarmiento)