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LATIN AMERICA: Given names

One of the many projects I shall never finish is a history of Latin America as reflected in given names. Here is one more item. The great French poet Victor Hugo was a great admirer of Napoleon although Napoleon III was a painful disappointment to him. Latin America generally admired both Hugo and Napoleon. These first names were given to children indiscriminately. The Venezuelan "leader" Hugo Chavez was called Hugo by his parents, although he turned out to be an imitator of Napoleon rather of Victor Hugo. Conversely it has been revealed that the Peruvian leader of the Sendero Luminoso, the Shining Path, the philosopher Abimael Guzman, jailed under Fujimori, was granted one request by Vladimir Montesinos: a biography of Napoleon, although a life of Victor Hugo would have been more appropriate for a professor of philosophy. Moral: the world, especially Latin America, has had too many would-be Napoleons.

Ronald Hilton - 5/20/02