World leaders, writers and legions of fans have paid tribute to Nobel-winning Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, while his homeland remembered the literary legend with music, candles and roses.
Garcia Marquez, who died on Thursday aged 87, was mourned in the European cities where he once lived, the United States and his native Colombia, which inspired his surreal stories of family, love and dictatorship.
Colombia declared three days of mourning for the author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” with flags flying at half-mast, newspapers publishing special editions and folk bands singing in his honour in his native Caribbean coast town of Aracataca.
Aracataca inspired him to create the imaginary Caribbean village of Macondo in his masterpiece, One Hundred Years Of Solitude, a family and historical saga set over two centuries.
Visitors flocked to his childhood home, now a museum, to place candles, pictures of the author and his favourite flowers, yellow roses.
“We had to come,” said Aida Maestre, 60, who was on vacation 70km away in Rodadero when she decided to come to Aracataca.
In Bogota, the headline in the newspaper El Espectador, where Garcia Marquez worked as a journalist for many years, called him immortal. Catholics marking Good Friday said they would pray for him.
In Mexico City, where he lived for decades until his death, officials said a public tribute would be held at the Bellas Artes cultural palace on Monday.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will attend the event.
The author’s wife, Mercedes Barcha, and two sons Rodrigo and Gonzalo said his remains would be cremated but his final resting place has yet to be disclosed.
The cause of death was not revealed but Garcia Marquez died one week after being hospitalised with pneumonia.
Garcia Marquez last appeared in public on his birthday, March 6, but he only waved and said nothing to reporters outside his Mexico City house.
Garcia Marquez’s other celebrated books include Love In The Time Of Cholera, his autobiography Living To Tell The Tale and his final novel, “Memories Of My Melancholy Whores, published in 2004.
“My maestro has died. I will not mourn him because I have not lost him: I will continue to read his words over and over,” said Chilean novelist Isabel Allende.
British novelist and screenwriter Ian McEwan told the BBC that Garcia Marquez was comparable to Charles Dickens, with “extraordinary persuasive powers over whole populations.”
A champion of left-wing causes, the longtime journalist forged a controversial friendship with Fidel Castro but he also counted foes of communism, such as former US president Bill Clinton, among his friends.
Cuban President Raul Castro, who succeeded his brother Fidel in 2006, said “the world and particularly the people of Latin America have physically lost an emblematic writer and intellectual.”
French President Francois Hollande hailed the “literary giant.”