MEXICO CITY – Renowned Mexican journalist, critic and political activist Carlos Monsivais died Saturday at 72.
Examining his own country like a pop anthropologist, Monsivais chronicled Mexico’s historic upheavals, social trends and literature for more than 50 years. He was also known as a tireless and ubiquitous activist for leftist causes.
His death came one day after that of fellow leftist and Nobel-winning Portuguese novelist Jose Saramago, with whom he once toured Zapatista rebel encampments in southern Chiapas state.
“I think he is one of the great minds of Mexico, and an intellectual of the left,” said writer Elena Poniatowska, who was friends with Monsivais since about 1957. “He knew about everything, politics, poetry, art.”
The Health Department said Monsivais died at Mexico City’s National Institute of Medical Science and Nutrition of a respiratory illness. It said he had been admitted to the hospital April 2, and his condition deteriorated in recent weeks.
Born May 4, 1938, Monsivais was part of a generation of Mexican writers – Poniatowska, Carlos Fuentes and Jose Emilio Pacheco – who came of age in the 1950s and ’60s.
Monsivais’ best-known works include the books “Dias de Guardar” and “Escenas de pudor y Liviandad” and his long-running newspaper column “Por Mi Madre Bohemios,” in which he explored everything from the often-strange language of politicians to the most recent soap opera phenomena.